Big Walnut High School girls lacrosse coach Steve Palmer headed into the Division II regional tournament draw May 5 ready to plead his case.
Although the Golden Eagles had lost their first five games, they answered with six consecutive victories. The winning streak was followed by losses to New Albany (20-3 on April 30) and Olentangy (21-7 on April 23), Division I programs that were ranked first and 12th, respectively, in the state last week regardless of division by InsideLacrosse.com.
"In fact, four of our seven losses have come against (top-16) teams in the state," said Palmer, whose team was 6-7 overall and 2-4 in the OCC-Buckeye Division before playing Olentangy Orange on May 10 and closed the regular season May 11 against Chillicothe.
Big Walnut's other two losses to top-16 teams came against Olentangy Liberty (17-5 on April 8) and Dublin Scioto (14-6 on March 15). The Patriots and Irish were ranked 15th and 16th, respectively, in the state last week.
"These are not only ranked teams, but they are (Division I) ranked teams," Palmer said. "Against Division II, Region 7 teams, we are 3-0 (before playing Chillicothe)."
Palmer believes his team's weighty schedule has helped prepare it for the postseason. The Golden Eagles are seeded eighth in the Region 7 tournament and will play host to 10th-seeded Bexley in the first round Wednesday, May 15.
The winner plays fifth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne or 12th-seeded Dayton Carroll in a regional quarterfinal Saturday, May 18, at the home of the higher seed. That winner likely would face top-seeded DeSales or fourth-seeded Watterson in a regional semifinal May 21.
Big Walnut defeated Bexley 6-5 in overtime on April 18, with senior midfielder Cassady Becker scoring the winning goal.
Becker had a team-high 33 goals through 13 games, followed by freshman attacker Peyton Deverso (29) and freshman midfielder Ashley Fisher (20). Senior midfielder Meri Buckles was next with 10 goals.
The Golden Eagles were averaging 10 goals per game and allowing 10.3 through 13 contests.
"I'm sure Bexley is looking at that game and saying, 'Well, we held them to six,' " Palmer said. "But we're looking at it and saying, 'If we can get up to our average, we'll be fine.'"
Boys lacrosse team preps for Lions
The sixth-seeded boys lacrosse team opens the Division II, Region 7 tournament Monday, May 13, at home against 11th-seeded Bexley.
The winner plays third-seeded Columbus Academy or 15th-seeded Olentangy Berlin in a regional quarterfinal Thursday, May 16, at the home of the higher seed. That winner plays second-seeded DeSales, seventh-seeded Bellbrook, 14th-seeded Jonathan Alder, 17th-seeded Lima Senior or 18th-seeded Johnstown in a regional semifinal May 20.
Big Walnut defeated Bexley 15-4 on March 30 as John Grumney and Judah Lozano both scored three goals and Nathan Montgomery and Luke Chiles both scored two.
"I'm trying to get my guys to not look ahead, because our (quarterfinal) matchup could be a rematch as well," coach Michael Brunner said, referring to a 19-6 loss to Academy on April 13. "We're just trying to stay focused on our next opponent."
Big Walnut was 9-8 overall before closing the regular season May 10 at Buckeye Valley. The Golden Eagles finished 2-5 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Track teams set for district meet
The track and field teams will compete in the Division I district meet this week at Hilliard Darby.
The boys team will compete in the 17-team district 2 meet, which begins with the field events Tuesday, May 14, continues with the running preliminaries Wednesday, May 15, and concludes with the running finals Saturday, May 18.
The girls team will compete in the 17-team district 3 meet. The field events are May 15, followed by the running preliminaries May 16 and the running finals May 18.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional meet May 22 and 24 at Pickerington North.
Big Walnut competed in the OCC-Capital meet May 9 and 11 at Groveport.
Led by champions in three field events, the boys team scored 50 points to tie Delaware for fourth in the Delaware County Championships on May 3, behind Liberty (137.5), host Orange (135) and Olentangy (78) and ahead of Berlin (49.5), Buckeye Valley (26) and Village Academy (1).
Mark Ruffing won both the discus (126 feet, 8 inches) and shot put (47-2 3/4) and Jackson Podraza won the high jump (6-0).
The girls team finished third (71) behind Orange (129.5) and Liberty (109) and ahead of Olentangy (55.5), Buckeye Valley (54), Berlin (41), Delaware (33), Delaware Christian (26) and Village Academy (8).
Hanna Pinkston won the 200 meters (26.68 seconds).
Baseball team preps for district tourney
The baseball team is seeded 26th of 48 teams in the Division I district tournament and will play host to 34th-seeded Chillicothe in the first round Monday, May 13.
The winner plays at 14th-seeded Marysville in the second round Wednesday, May 15, with that winner likely facing second-seeded Lancaster in a district semifinal May 21.
Big Walnut defeated Franklin Heights 10-0 on May 8 and was 10-11 overall and 6-8 in the OCC-Capital before playing Groveport on May 10. The Golden Eagles closed the regular season May 11 against Teays Valley.
Postseason underway for softball team
The third-seeded softball team opened the Division II district tournament May 9 with a second-round game against 12th-seeded Licking Valley.
The winner plays fourth-seeded Bloom-Carroll or 20th-seeded Columbus East in a district semifinal Tuesday, May 15, at a neutral site. That winner likely faces top-seeded Lakewood or seventh-seeded DeSales in a district final Friday, May 17, or Saturday, May 18, at Pickerington Central.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal May 22 at Mason.
Big Walnut closed the regular season May 7 with a 12-8 loss to Sparta Highland to drop to 17-5.
Boys tennis team competes at sectional
The boys tennis team competed in a Division I sectional May 9 and 11 at Pickerington Central.
Grant Mudre, Charlie Jaeger and Andrew Grubb competed in singles, while Sebastian Kirkpatrick and Devon McCullough comprised one doubles team and Gabe Mexicott and Matt Pushkin comprised the other.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to the district tournament Thursday, May 16, and Saturday, May 18, at Reynoldsburg. At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles qualify for the state tournament May 24 and 25 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Big Walnut was 10-9 following a 5-0 win over Westerville Central on May 8.