Lacrosse and wrestling are on Peter Ackley's mind all year, and not just because the New Albany High School senior excels at both sports.
Given that Ackley is a faceoff specialist for the boys lacrosse team, his success in one sport is intertwined with the other.
"I like the physicality of (faceoffs). Wrestling definitely helps with that," Ackley said. "When you're down and kind of in a squat, just the movements are familiar. I like having the ball in my stick and going one-on-one and getting the ball for my team.
"I definitely like working on faceoffs when I'm in wrestling season because all those muscle groups are more in tune and coming into faceoffs right out of wrestling is a big advantage. All the motions go hand-in-hand."
Ackley had won approximately 75 percent of his faceoffs through 18 games, in which New Albany was 14-4 overall and finished 5-2 in the OCC-Buckeye Division. The Eagles were voted the third seed for the 16-team Division I, Region 3 tournament and played host to 15th-seeded Gahanna in a first-round game May 14.
"Peter's kind of a workhorse. He's as much of a utility player as you could possibly think," coach Danny Gibson said. "He can go on the field and do whatever. We had a lot of injuries early in the year, whatever you think can of, and guys like Peter and Ben (Chaddock) could go on and do whatever we needed."
Ackley was 96-41 for the wrestling team the past three seasons at 170 pounds, qualifying for the Division I district tournament each year.
He took up faceoffs in eighth grade, taking informal lessons from longtime friend and current Ohio State player Carter Kistler, who played at Columbus Academy.
Chaddock missed his sophomore and junior seasons with a right shoulder injury but flanked Ackley on the wing as a freshman and again this year.
"There's really good chemistry between us. To have a good faceoff unit, you need to have a good pole and a good faceoff guy and Peter does a good job of communicating with me where he's going to go, whether he will go forward or if he'll bounce it back to me," Chaddock said. "Good players can take coaching and implement that in the game and be a coach on the field. Peter is like a coach on faceoffs."
The Eagles fell short of sharing the OCC-Buckeye title, losing 7-6 in overtime at Olentangy Liberty on May 10. A New Albany win would have meant a three-way tie for the championship with the Patriots and Olentangy.
The New Albany-Gahanna winner will play fifth-seeded Thomas Worthington or sixth-seeded St. Charles in a regional quarterfinal Friday, May 17 on the better-seeded team's home field. That winner will take on top-seeded Upper Arlington, 10th-seeded Miamisburg, 11th-seeded Hilliard Bradley or 14th-seeded Kettering Fairmont in a regional semifinal Tuesday, May 21 at the home of the better seed.
The Eagles defeated St. Charles 9-5 on March 26.
The regional final will be May 24.
"When we mesh and come together, we can beat anybody in the state," Ackley said. "At this point, it's more about us as a team and less about what anybody else is doing. If we can pass well and get all phases of our game going, we can play extremely well. In big games, our big players have made big plays."
Baseball team wraps up league title
The baseball team ground out two low-scoring wins last week to capture the outright OCC-Capital championship, edging Groveport 1-0 on May 6 and Big Walnut 2-1 the next day.
Jimmy Stevens had three hits against the Cruisers and two against the Golden Eagles, scoring both of his team's runs in the clinching victory. Mike Sokol struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings and gave up four hits.
New Albany was 24-1 overall before playing host to 39th-seeded Logan or 43rd-seeded Teays Valley in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 15 and finished 14-1 in the OCC-Capital with a 17-0, five-inning win at Franklin Heights on May 10.
"(The league championship) was our first goal," coach Dave Starling said. "The way we had to approach it was win that first and then take care of our other goals."
Last week's highlights also included a no-hitter May 8 for Austin Erdely in a 3-0 home win over Canal Winchester. Erdely struck out 14 in a 100-pitch outing.
Among the Eagles' other goals is a second consecutive district title. New Albany was voted the top seed for the 48-team district tournament.
"To get that kind of respect from guys you've coached against for years is big," Starling said. "The kids will be awed by it, but we have to make sure we stay humble enough to do what we've got to do (and) just show up and play the games."
The second-round winner will play 20th-seeded Groveport, 22nd-seeded St. Charles or 33rd-seeded Westerville North in a district semifinal Monday, May 20, at a neutral site. That winner will take on fifth-seeded Gahanna, 15th-seeded Central Crossing, 16th-seeded Grove City, 37th-seeded Thomas, 38th-seeded Westland or 44th-seeded Franklin Heights in a district final Wednesday, May 22, at a neutral site.
New Albany also defeated Franklin Heights 14-0 in five innings April 29 and 14-4 the next day and split its first two league games against Groveport, losing 4-1 on April 15 and winning 6-3 on April 17.
The district champion will advance to a regional semifinal May 30 at Dublin Coffman.
Track teams finish third at league meet
Led by Henry Zimmerman's wins in the discus (155 feet) and shot put (program-record 50-1/4), the boys track and field team scored 89.5 points in the OCC-Capital meet that concluded May 11 to finish third behind Canal Winchester (173) and host Groveport (108) and ahead of Big Walnut (70.5), Newark (54) and Franklin Heights (28).
The Eagles got runner-up finishes from Michiah Burton in the 200 meters (22.73 seconds), Julian Meacham-Dean in the long jump (20-9 1/4) and Victor Orsinelli in the 1,600 (4:35.2). Burton also was third in the 100 (11.4) and Orsinelli was fourth in the 800 (2:07.75).
On the girls side, Nicole Stewart helped the 400 relay to first place (50.95) and finished second in the 100 (12.69) and fourth in the 200 (27.22). The Eagles scored 89 points to place third behind Big Walnut (150) and Canal Winchester (113) and ahead of Groveport and Newark (67) and Franklin Heights (37).
Stewart also was on the runner-up 800 relay (1:48.94). Mia Lobel was third in the 100 hurdles (16.43) and long jump (17-1).
New Albany began the Division I, district 2 meet May 14 at Hilliard Darby with field events. Preliminaries for the running events were May 15 and running finals will be Saturday, May 18.
The top four finishers in each event advance to regional Wednesday, May 22, and May 24 at Pickerington North.
Boys tennis team rolls into district
Two singles players and two doubles teams will represent the boys tennis team in the Division I district tournament, although it might not be the group observers expected.
The doubles teams of Devin Boyer and Nathan Jose and Dev Vasani and Ben Yan, along with singles players Ryan Mudre and Logan Spiess, will compete Thursday, May 16, and Saturday, May 18, at Reynoldsburg. The top four finishers in singles and doubles will advance to state May 24 and 25 at Lindner Family Center in Mason.
Boyer and Jose are seeking their second consecutive state championship. They finished second in the sectional that concluded May 11 at Reynoldsburg, losing to Olentangy Orange's Tommy Heiden and Soham Pradhan 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the final.
Vasani and Yan defeated Olentangy's Omar Khayat and Sam Routzahn 7-5, 6-4 in the third-place match.
Mudre defeated Spiess 6-0, 6-0 in their third-place match.
Spiess, a senior in his only year with the team, took the place of top-seeded Robert Cash, last year's singles state champion. Cash opted to sit out the individual postseason because of family obligations, according to coach Marc Thomas.
Cash still will play in the Eagles' Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I team tournament matches.
Spiess qualified for district with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Marietta's Jackson Macatol in the third round of sectional May 9.
"A lot of my friends are on the team so I wanted to play with them ... since I'm not playing as many golf tournaments this spring," said Spiess, a Kenyon golf recruit. "I think my strengths are definitely serves and volleys. It was tough feeling comfortable out here, but I was able to get through it."
Also competing but failing to advance was singles player Alek Jacoby, who went 1-1.
New Albany was 13-1 before playing host to Dublin Jerome in the OTCA district final May 13 or 14. The winner advanced to the state tournament May 26 at Reynoldsburg.
Volleyball team wins late matches
The boys volleyball team won consecutive matches for the first time since starting 2-0, defeating host Delaware 25-21, 25-9 on May 4 before wrapping up OCC-Ohio play with a 22-25, 25-22, 25-14, 26-24 win at Reynoldsburg on May 7.
New Albany was 6-13 overall before participating in the OCC Challenge on May 14 at Darby and finished 3-11 in the OCC-Ohio in its first season in the league. Two of those wins came against the Raiders, the first being 25-12, 25-19, 25-18 on April 16, and the other was against UA 26-24, 25-17, 25-18 on April 22.
The Eagles found out their postseason path during the Division I East Region tournament draw May 13. First-round matches will be Friday, May 17, followed by the second round the next day and regional semifinals Tuesday, May 20.
Girls lacrosse team surges into tourney
The top-seeded girls lacrosse team will play host to ninth-seeded Wadsworth or 11th-seeded Westerville North on Friday, May 17, in a Division I, Region 1 quarterfinal.
New Albany finished the regular season at 15-3 with a 10-4 home win over Rockford (Michigan) on May 10. Chloe Platte had four goals and Liz Beckner, Alyssa Kneedler and Emily Rezabek each added two.
The quarterfinal winner will play fifth-seeded Medina, sixth-seeded Strongsville, 10th-seeded Brunswick or 13th-seeded Westerville South in a regional semifinal Monday, May 20, at the home of the better seed. Of those teams, New Albany defeated South 21-0 on April 6.
The regional final will be May 23.
Softball squad splits tourney games
Seeded 22nd in the 45-team Division I district tournament, the softball team won at 17th-seeded Bradley 6-3 in a first-round game May 6 but lost 10-3 to 13th-seeded UA in the second round May 8 at Tremont Elementary.
Kirsten Tibbitts had two hits and two RBI to lead the Eagles against UA as New Albany finished 14-12.
The Eagles scored three runs in the seventh inning at Bradley to get the win.
Tibbitts, who usually played third base, is one of four starters New Albany will lose to graduation. The Eagles also will lose their primary pitcher in Taylor Rhea.
Among players eligible to return are junior Halle Galbraith (C/INF), sophomores Olivia Angles (P) and Sophia Halliday (C/INF/OF) and freshmen Sophia Angles (INF/P) and Aurora Lescody (C/INF/OF).