Pickerington North girls golf coach Nathan Weibush expects junior Cassie Tasney to top the Panthers' lineup throughout this season, given that she is in her third season on varsity and did not shoot over 80 during tryouts and the team's first two tournaments.
Beyond Tasney, Weibush acknowledges that the lineup could be flexible, but he doesn't plan to spend much time thinking how that could play out as the Panthers seek their third consecutive OCC-Ohio Division championship.
"I don't want the girls to get too caught up in their position," said Weibush, who is in his second season. "I try to tell them to play well against who they're playing. The scores will take care of themselves. If one of our girls goes in (the lineup) in the fifth spot and ends up shooting the second-best score that day, that's great. Competition has a way of making you better."
Senior Allyson Rosen and sophomore Kendall Burton also return from last year's team that went 20-0 in the league to finish ahead of runner-up Gahanna (16-4). The Panthers finished third in a Division I sectional and eighth at district for the second year in a row.
North opened Aug. 5 by finishing sixth (355) of 15 teams in the Lady Lion Invitational at Jefferson as defending Division I state champion New Albany won (297). Tasney shot a 76, followed by Burton (91), junior Ella Bertke (92) and freshman Reagan Norton and Rosen (both 96).
Senior Amanda Lampron shot a 108.
They will have to replace the production of 2019 graduates Caroline Kane, who now plays at Toledo, and Zhanner Davis.
"Five of our six girls shot under 100 in the first tournament of the year on a tough course. That's a good start, especially with some new players," Weibush said. "Cassie will always be her own biggest critic. She always expects to go low and we expect that from her. I expect her to be in the conversation for league Player of the Year with Lizzie Sauer from Grove City and Elise (Wenz) from Gahanna. It's going to be a dogfight."
North was in third place after the first round of the four-round OCC-Ohio championship Aug. 7 at Blacklick Woods. Tasney shot an 80 to lead the Panthers to a team score of 365, behind Gahanna (351) and Grove City (354) and ahead of Pickerington Central (385) and Big Walnut (429).
Also scoring were Burton (92), Bertke (95) and Rosen (98). Norton shot a 100.
The second round of the OCC-Ohio tournament was Aug. 14 at Royal American.
Entering the week, North was 40-4 in league play since the start of the 2017 season.
"The big goal is to win another league championship," Weibush said. "That's on everyone's mind and we think we have the talent to do it."
Girls tennis team sets high goals
The girls tennis team returns all but one member of its lineup from a year ago, including a three-time Division I state qualifier and Toledo commit in senior Cassie Alcala, as it tries to win its third OCC-Ohio championship in four years.
North brings back all five of its district qualifiers in Alcala, seniors Sophia Anderson, Maggie Haas and Kim Nguyen and junior Corrina Moesle. All but Alcala competed in doubles.
Alcala went 0-1 at state last year in singles after finishing as state runner-up in 2017.
The Panthers were sixth in OhioTennisZone.com's preseason Division I rankings.
"We have a ton of experience. I've never had a team before with six seniors," said coach Brian Hoff, who has led the team since North opened in 2003.
"They've all played big matches over the years against the top teams in the state. We've had some big wins and tough losses. There's no substitute for that kind of match experience. It should help us as we tackle a very daunting schedule once again.
"This group has been together since junior high and they want to go out with a bang and set the standard for future North tennis teams."
Rounding out the roster are seniors Rhyan Cook and Kim Nguyen, who will play second and third singles, respectively, behind Alcala.
"Our doubles teams will be very fluid. Everyone feels comfortable playing with anyone else," Hoff said. "Central Ohio tennis is loaded. ... We look forward to competing against them and seeing how we measure up."
North, which went 16-3 overall and 5-0 in the league last year, opened Aug. 13 at home against Olentangy Liberty. The Panthers begin OCC-Ohio play Aug. 22 at Central.
Boys golfers look for improvement
Fifth-year boys golf coach Steve Schill was both encouraged and disappointed with the Panthers' first two tournaments of the season, in which they shot identical scores of 317.
"We're not playing our best yet," Schill said. "We're not playing well, but we have the potential to get a lot better. We've seen some good scores, but the guys have been grinding out some of their rounds. It's a matter of getting everybody to play well together. There's time for that to happen."
North opened Aug. 5 by finishing seventh of 19 teams in Massillon Jackson's Polar Bear Invitational at Shady Hollow as Akron Hoban won (288), and the next day in the first round of the four-round OCC-Ohio tournament at Darby Creek came up two shots shy of Central and Gahanna. The Tigers finished first on a fifth-score tiebreaker.
The Panthers finished ahead of Grove City (323), Lancaster (373) and Reynoldsburg (416).
Sophomore Carson Bellish shot a 74 at Shady Hollow and a 76 at Darby Creek.
Also scoring at Darby Creek were senior Elijah Hale (77), sophomore Hadyn Hunt (79) and seniors Tomasz Douangsy (85) and Colin Mulligan (87).
Bellish, Douangsy and Hale are returnees from last year, when North finished third (12-8) in the OCC-Ohio behind Gahanna (20-0) and Central (16-4).
Hunt saw some varsity time at the end of last season. Mulligan is in his first year with the team.
"We'll need to continue to get better, especially once school starts, and I think this group can do that," Schill said. "I think we've gone out and tried to make things happen instead of letting them happen. They need to trust in their own talent and let things happen."
Bellish shot a 74 in the second round of the league tournament Aug. 12 at Apple Valley, leading the Panthers to a team score of 314 and first place ahead of Central (319), Grove City (323), Gahanna (323), Lancaster (364) and Reynoldsburg (394).
Also scoring were Hale (77), Mulligan (80) and Douangsy (83).
Below are the coming schedules for the North boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 17 -- Watkins Memorial Invitational at Cumberland Trail
Aug. 19 -- DeSales and Licking Heights at Turnberry
Aug. 21 -- Canal Winchester and Hartley at Turnberry
Aug. 16 -- Home vs. Marysville
Aug. 16 -- Home vs. Marysville
Aug. 21 -- Home vs. New Concord John Glenn
Aug. 15 -- Home vs. Columbus Academy
Aug. 20 -- At Canal Winchester
Aug. 17 -- Spikefest at Marysville
Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Westland