As the two-time defending OCC-Capital Division champion, the Big Walnut High School girls track and field team knew it would need a strong effort to secure a third consecutive league title.
"On paper, every coach in the OCC-Capital thought that Canal (Winchester) was going to beat us," coach Joe Evener said. "But paper doesn't measure heart and desire and dedication."
The Golden Eagles won six events, scored in every event, double-scored in four events, triple-scored in five events and totaled 150 points in the league meet held May 9 and 11 to finish well ahead of runner-up Canal Winchester (113) as well as New Albany (89), host Groveport and Newark (67) and Franklin Heights (37).
"That just shows how much the girls really wanted that title," Evener said.
Winning league titles were Colbi Borland in both the 1,600 meters (5 minutes, 18.92 seconds) and 3,200 (11:47.2), Kaley Rammelsberg in the high jump (5 feet, 1 inch), Grace Salloum in the discus (99-4), Cindy Serna in the 300 hurdles (48.11) and the 3,200 relay of Borland, Alina Pecci, Grace Grunewald and Adelee Gartner (9:57.52).
It was the second consecutive league title for Rammelsberg in the high jump, while the Golden Eagles won the league title in the 3,200 relay for the fourth year in a row. In addition, Serna set the school's freshman record in the 300 hurdles.
"We're pretty talented across the board, with field events, distance and relays," Gartner said of her team's success. "Everyone took it upon themselves to get as many points as they could."
The boys team scored 70.5 points in the league meet to finish fourth, behind Canal Winchester (173), Groveport (108) and New Albany (89.5) and ahead of Newark (54) and Franklin Heights (28).
Winning titles were Jackson Podraza in the high jump (6-3), Caleb Ramey in the long jump (20-9.5) and Mitchell Truax in the pole vault (12-6).
Big Walnut began the postseason in the Division I district meet last week at Hilliard Darby.
The girls team competed in the 17-team district 3 meet, in which field events were held May 15, followed by the running preliminaries May 16 and the running finals May 18. The boys team competed in the 17-team district 2 meet, which started with field events May 14, continued with the running preliminaries May 15 and concluded with the running finals May 18.
On May 15, Rammelsberg won her third district title in the high jump in four years by clearing 5-5. A day earlier, Podraza advanced to regional by finishing third in the high jump (6-3), while Ramey just missed advancing in the long jump by placing fifth (21-6).
The top four finishers in each district event advanced to the regional meet Wednesday, May 22, and Friday, May 24, at Pickerington North. At regional, the top four finishers in each event advance to the state meet May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State.
Boys lacrosse team cruises past Lions
Nathan Montgomery, Judah Lozano and John Grumney each scored four goals and goalkeeper Josh Hageman had eight saves as the sixth-seeded boys lacrosse team routed 11th-seeded Bexley 17-0 in the first round of Division II, Region 7 tournament May 13.
Big Walnut was 12-7 before playing third-seeded Columbus Academy in a regional quarterfinal May 16. The winner faces second-seeded DeSales or seventh-seeded Bellbrook in a regional semifinal Monday, May 20, at the home of the better seed, with that winner facing top-seeded Watterson, fourth-seeded Licking Valley, fifth-seeded Kettering Alter or ninth-seeded Dayton Oakwood in the regional final Thursday, May 23, at a neutral site. The regional champion advances to a state semifinal May 29.
Doubles team reaches district
Gabe Mexicott and Matt Pushkin of the boys tennis team qualified for the Division I district tournament held May 16 and 18 at Reynoldsburg in doubles.
The duo went 2-2 and placed fourth in a sectional May 9 and 11 at Pickerington Central. They upset the third seed, Granville's Andrew Pfau and Scott Sharp, 6-4, 6-7, 7-6 in a district-qualifying match before losing to Worthington Kilbourne's Jacob Lindaman and William Wiet 6-4, 6-4 in a semifinal and the fourth seed, Pickerington Central's Stevan Klein and Karson Stanley, 6-3, 7-5 in the third-place match.
At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles qualify for state Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Also at sectional, Devon McCullough and Sebastian Kirkpatrick won their opening match in doubles, beating Canal Winchester's Corey Berner and Jake Chapman 6-3, 6-3, before losing to Granville's Noah Flowers and Peter Leithauser 6-2, 6-1 in the second round.
In singles, Grant Mudre went 2-1, losing to Kilbourne's Owen Alderman 6-1, 6-0 in a district-qualifying match, while Andrew Grubb went 1-1 and Charlie Jaeger went 0-1.
The Golden Eagles beat DeSales 3-2 on May 14 to finish the regular season 11-9.
Baseball team falls to Monarchs
The baseball team lost 8-1 at 14th-seeded Marysville in the second round of the Division I tournament May 15 to finish 12-13 overall.
The 26th-seeded Golden Eagles took a 1-0 lead in the first inning before the Monarchs tied the game in the third and took the lead for good by scoring two runs in the fourth. Marysville added one run in the fifth and four in the sixth.
Ryne Conley went 2-for-3, driving in the only run for Big Walnut.
Wes Coey pitched a complete game and Carson Becker went 3-for-3 in the Golden Eagles' 8-3 victory at 34th-seeded Chillicothe in the first round May 13.
Big Walnut lost to Groveport 4-1 on May 10 to finish 6-9 in the OCC-Capital and closed the regular season May 11 with an 11-1 over Teays Valley.
Softball team upset in district opener
The third-seeded softball team entered the postseason with the hope of reaching a Division II district final for the second consecutive season.
However, the Golden Eagles came up a run short in a 12-11 loss to 12th-seeded Licking Valley in the second round of the district tournament May 10. Big Walnut, which had a first-round bye, finished 17-6 overall.
"When we got down 12-1, I thought we're good, but I didn't think we could come back," coach Jeff Hatfield said. "They fought back, and we had two opportunities to win the game."
The Golden Eagles scored five runs in the fifth inning off RBI singles by junior catcher Molly Sharpe and sophomore outfielder Karley Becker and a three-run home run from junior Sierra Perry.
Big Walnut added another run in the sixth and four in the seventh. The Golden Eagles had the bases loaded when the game ended.
Offensive leaders for the Golden Eagles included junior third baseman Hailey Krinn (.536, 14 doubles, 6 home runs, 24 RBI), Sharpe (.456, 4 home runs, 32 RBI), sophomore shortstop Arielle Brown (.420, 3 home runs, 26 RBI), junior second baseman Alyssa Tarney (.388, 19 RBI), senior first baseman Taylor Schulz (.382, 2 home runs, 13 RBI), junior pitcher Autumn Imhoff (.375, 1 home run, 14 RBI) and senior outfielder Jocelyn Lucas (.366, 16 RBI).
In the circle, Imhoff was 12-5 with a 3.79 ERA, 46 strikeouts and 32 walks in 101 innings.
Big Walnut, which is losing three seniors in Lucas, Schulz and Kayla Simms, went 7-3 in the OCC-Capital to place second behind Groveport (9-1).
"We look to be very promising next season," Hatfield said.
Season ends for girls lacrosse team
The eighth-seeded girls lacrosse team lost to 10th-seeded Bexley 14-13 in the first round of the Division II, Region 7 tournament May 15 at home to finish 8-8.
The Golden Eagles had beaten the Lions 6-5 in overtime on April 18.
In the rematch, Peyton Deverso scored five goals, Cassady Becker scored three, Kimmie Serna scored two and goalie Aubrey Logue had 12 saves.
Big Walnut closed the regular season with victories over Olentangy Orange (20-3 on May 10) and Chillicothe (16-12 on May 11).