Henry Zimmerman's path wasn't exactly charted for him, but the New Albany High School boys track and field team's junior thrower knew from an early age the kind of work it would take if he were to become his family's latest athletic standout.
His father, Shawn, played football at Bowling Green in the 1980s, and his two older sisters, Alex and Sam, are throwers at Villanova and Denison, respectively.
So far during his prep career, Zimmerman has established his own successful reputation -- and he is far from satisfied.
After finishing third in the discus and sixth in the shot put in last year's Division 4 state meet for Kalamazoo (Michigan) Hackett Catholic Prep, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Zimmerman is among the area's top throwers. He ranked fifth in the discus (154 feet, 11 inches) and 29th in the shot put (47-6 1/4) last week but is taking nothing for granted as championship season begins with the OCC-Capital Division meet Thursday, May 9, and Saturday, May 11, at Groveport.
"There are already a few guys well over 180 (in the discus across the state). I have my work cut out for me to get to state," Zimmerman said. "Most of the throwers around here, I am friends with so there is some friendly competition. I do pay attention to other guys' distances."
Zimmerman, who moved to New Albany about a week into this school year, considers the hammer -- which is not an Ohio High School Athletic Association event -- and discus his best disciplines. Zimmerman finished eighth in the weight throw (68-2 1/2) at the indoor New Balance Nationals in March in New York City, one of four Ohioans in the top eight of the event.
He threw 187-3 in the hammer to place first at the Warhawk Invitational on May 3 at Otterbein and was third in the discus (137-1).
"When I was injured the summer before my sophomore year, I couldn't throw the shot or disc so I picked up the hammer. I love the hammer," said Zimmerman, who plans to participate in the Ohio State Hammer Championship on June 2 at Ohio State, the day after the Division I state meet concludes. "Shot is my weakest event, but I've worked on it a lot and I'm getting better. I had a back injury so I couldn't twist for a while but with the hammer, you don't have to twist."
Zimmerman practices the hammer throw at Denison, to which Sam Zimmerman transferred after originally competing at Temple. Coincidentally, her transfer came before the family moved to central Ohio.
"Henry was accomplished already when he came here but you can tell he's not content with his (past) performances. That's an incredible trait to have with an athlete of his caliber," New Albany boys coach Greg Flecher said. "He will keep pushing. He has some very lofty goals and with all of the outside work that he puts in -- this is definitely a year-round sport for him -- we're looking forward to seeing what he can do in all of his throws. I had to do some research with him to see what he's done in the past because he wasn't going to talk much about it."
New Albany will participate in the Division I, district 2 meet Tuesday, May 14, Wednesday, May 15, and May 18 at Hilliard Darby.
Zimmerman hopes another strong postseason will help him toward his ultimate goal of competing at the Division I level in college.
"That's the goal for me," he said. "I'm open (to any destination) right now, but Division I is the definitely the level I want to compete at. That's where I think I could really unleash my full potential."
Tennis team wins another league title
The boys tennis team finished another dominating run through the OCC-Capital with a 5-0 home win over Big Walnut on May 2, clinching its 13th consecutive league championship.
New Albany won all of its league matches by 5-0 scores and was 12-1 overall before playing Pickerington North on May 7.
Earlier last week, the Eagles advanced in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district tournament with a 3-0 home win over Thomas Worthington in a second-round match April 29.
New Albany will play Delaware or Reynoldsburg in a quarterfinal on a date to be determined.
In the individual postseason, defending Division I singles state champion Robert Cash is seeded first and teammate Ryan Mudre is seeded third for a sectional tournament Thursday, May 9, and Saturday, May 11, at Reynoldsburg. Devin Boyer and Nathan Jose are the top seed in doubles as they try to repeat as state champions, and Dev Vasani and Ben Yan are seeded fourth.
Alek Jacoby will be the Eagles' third singles player at sectional.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles will advance to district May 16 and 18 at Reynoldsburg.
Girls lacrosse team wins OCC title
Not only did the girls lacrosse team remain ranked first in the state by LaxNumbers.com last week, but it extended its string of league championships to four.
New Albany routed visiting Big Walnut 20-3 on April 30 to wrap up its fourth consecutive league title, the past three of which have come in the OCC-Buckeye. The Eagles went 7-0 in the league and have won 25 league games in a row dating to April 30, 2015.
New Albany, which improved to 14-3 overall with a 12-4 win over Massillon Jackson on May 3, has outscored its league opponents 447-78 since the start of the 2016 season.
The Eagles finish the regular season Friday, May 10, at home against Rockford (Michigan).
New Albany was voted the top seed for the 15-team Division I, Region 1 tournament and will play host to ninth-seeded Wadsworth or 11th-seeded Westerville North in a second-round game May 17.
Baseball team pursues league title
The baseball team recorded its 20th win of the season May 1 when it routed Newark 12-1 in five innings, but the Eagles still had work to do this week to capture the OCC-Capital championship.
New Albany was 20-1 overall and 10-1 in the league before playing Groveport on May 6. The Eagles were two games ahead of the second-place Cruisers (8-3), to whom they lost 4-1 on April 15, and three in front of third-place Canal Winchester (7-4) before May 6, and they were scheduled to face both teams this week.
New Albany faced the Indians on May 8 and are scheduled to finish league play Friday, May 10, at Franklin Heights.
Spencer Hill had consecutive five RBI games last week, first in a 14-4 win over Franklin Heights on April 30 in which he had a three-run home run and again at Newark.
New Albany was voted the top seed for the 48-team Division I district tournament and took a first-round bye. The Eagles will play host to 39th-seeded Teays Valley or 43rd-seeded Logan in the second round Wednesday, May 15, and the winner will play 20th-seeded Groveport, 22nd-seeded St. Charles or 33rd-seeded Westerville North in a district semifinal May 20 at a neutral site.
Softball team begins tournament
Seeded 22nd in the 45-team Division I district tournament, the softball team visited 17th-seeded Hilliard Bradley for a first-round game May 6.
The winner visited 13th-seeded Upper Arlington in the second round May 8.
That winner will play fourth-seeded Groveport, 24th-seeded Hamilton Township or 25th-seeded Olentangy in a district semifinal Monday, May 13, at a neutral site. The district final will be May 17 or 18.
The Eagles were swept by Groveport in OCC-Capital play, losing 5-0 on April 15 and 13-9 in eight innings April 30.
New Albany was 13-11 overall before playing Bradley and finished 5-5 in the OCC-Capital, defeating Franklin Heights 16-4 on May 1. Taylor Rhea had four hits and four RBI, Emma Valley had three hits and four RBI and Kirsten Tibbitts had four RBI to pace the Eagles, who also defeated Dublin Coffman 8-2 on May 2 behind three hits each from Olivia Angles and Aurora Lescody.
Below are the coming schedules for the New Albany boys lacrosse and boys volleyball teams:
*May 10 -- At Olentangy Liberty
May 14 -- Home vs. 15th-seeded Gahanna in first round of Division I, Region 3 tournament. Winner plays fifth-seeded Thomas Worthington or sixth-seeded St. Charles in quarterfinal May 17 at home of better seed. The Eagles are seeded third.
May 14 -- OCC Challenge at Hilliard Darby