The Pickerington North girls golf team knew it would be in a season-long fight for its third consecutive OCC-Ohio Division championship after placing third in the first round of the league tournament Aug. 7 at Blacklick Woods.
Although the Panthers fought their way up the standings, placing second in the second round and first in the third round, they fell just short of the championship by coming in second in the fourth and final round Sept. 4 at Mentel Memorial. Still, coach Nathan Weibush saw plenty of progress from a team that has lowered its scores throughout the season and become more consistent overall.
"If we've had a bad round, we don't get down for long. I let them be mad at themselves between the green and the next tee," Weibush said. "We figured that the (league) race could be wide open with (Gahanna's) Kayla Davis and (North's) Caroline Kane graduating. We figured we could be in one of those top three spots, but when Grove City brings in two scores in the 70s, that's tough to overcome."
Powered by rounds of 71 from Lizzie Saur and 78 from Abby Jones, the Greyhounds shot a 344 at Mentel Memorial to outdistance North (370), Pickerington Central (373), Gahanna (379), Big Walnut (401) and Lancaster (483).
North went 16-4 in the league to finish second behind Grove City (18-2) and ahead of Gahanna (13-7), Pickerington Central (9-11), Big Walnut (4-16) and Lancaster (0-20).
Scoring Sept. 4 for the Panthers were Cassie Tasney (77), Allyson Rosen (95), Ella Bertke (98) and Reagan Norton (100).
North had shot 365 in the first round, third behind Gahanna (351) and Grove City (354), and 357 in the second round Aug. 14 at Royal American to come in one shot behind Grove City before edging the Greyhounds 360-364 in the third round Aug. 28 at New Albany Links.
Despite having tweaked her back during tryouts, an injury that caused her to sit out a few events, Tasney's 77.8 league average was second behind Saur's 73.8.
"I struggled early, but I went to our school trainer for shock therapy and I am feeling much better," Tasney said. "I want to improve in my short game quite a bit. I've been a little up and down, but I like where I am. All of us are getting better. There's a lot of competition (from the second to fifth spots) and that is going to help everybody."
North has just one 18-hole invitational the rest of the regular season, the Marysville Invitational on Sept. 21 at Darby Creek. The Panthers will participate in a Division I sectional Oct. 1 or 2.
"The biggest thing for us will be working on our short game and eliminating big mistakes," Weibush said. "We have to be better around the greens and avoid (scoring) nine or 10. We have to avoid having anything over two putts. I've seen some improvement with our long putts."
Tennis team repeats as league champion
The girls tennis team finished off its second consecutive OCC-Ohio championship and third in four seasons Sept. 5 with a 5-0 home win over Grove City, extending an undefeated season in the process.
North, which was ranked fifth in Division I in OhioTennisZone.com's preseason poll, was 12-1 overall before playing Dublin Coffman on Sept. 10.
The Panthers have not dropped a court in league play since a 4-1 win over Grove City on Sept 7, 2017, and had lost just three courts this season through 11 matches, in a 3-2 season-opening win over Columbus Academy on Aug. 15 and a 4-1 win at Cincinnati Ursuline on Aug. 23.
North beat Reynoldsburg 5-0 on Sept. 3 in a match that also counted as an Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district quarterfinal. The Panthers will play host to Olentangy Berlin or Olentangy Orange in a district semifinal on a date to be determined.
Volleyball tourney honors official
The girls volleyball team will play host to the Wayne Roller Memorial Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 14, honoring the late longtime basketball and volleyball official who also served as commissioner of the MSL.
Twelve teams will be divided into four pools. North is in a pool with Big Walnut and Granville.
The rest of the field consists of Berne Union, Bloom-Carroll, Centerburg, Fairfield Christian, Fairfield Union, Fisher Catholic, Hartley, Lancaster and Licking Valley.
Roller, who died in 2017 at age 64, officiated 17 state volleyball tournaments and 14 state basketball tournaments. He was MSL commissioner from 2001-07.
"(Roller) was an integral part of Ohio high school sports for over 40 years," coach April Boudreau said. "He touched the lives of many players, coaches, administrators and parents. In addition, in the (coming) years, a scholarship will be awarded to one of the (participating) student-athletes."
North was 8-1 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Lancaster on Sept. 10. The Panthers split their first two league matches last week, defeating host Central 25-8, 25-11, 25-23 on Sept. 3 before losing 25-17, 25-14, 18-25, 22-25, 15-8 at home to Gahanna on Sept. 5.
Langenderfer retires as girls track coach
Jim Langenderfer recently retired as girls track and field coach after leading the program for all of its 16 seasons, although he plans to remain girls cross country coach for the foreseeable future.
"I have coached for a long time and enjoyed it all -- the athletes here at Pickerington, coaches I worked with and the coaches we competed against," Langenderfer said. "We accomplished a lot over the years (and there is) always more to do, but as high school sports have evolved, it takes more time to coach and handle the administrative side. I feel that the (team) is in good shape to move forward."
The track team has advanced at least one individual or relay to the Division I state meet in each of the past 14 seasons.
Langenderfer's coaching career began in the late 1970s at Circleville Junior High. He came to Pickerington in 1985 and became girls head coach in 2001 before moving to North when the school district split in 2003.
Langenderfer also is the only girls cross country coach in school history.
Below are the coming schedules for the North cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 14 -- Boys: Galion Cross Country Festival at Amann Reservoir Park; Girls: Milford Invitational
Sept. 14 -- Rodney Butt Classic at Denison Golf Club
Sept. 16 -- Olentangy Liberty Invitational at Kinsale
Sept. 12 -- Pickerington Central at Turnberry
Sept. 17 -- Olentangy and Olentangy Liberty at Turnberry
Sept. 14 -- At Mason
*Sept. 17 -- Home vs. Gahanna
Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby
Sept. 14 -- Home vs. Watterson
*Sept. 17 -- At Gahanna
Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Watterson
Sept. 17 -- At Westerville Central
Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Chillicothe
*Sept. 12 -- At Reynoldsburg
Sept. 14 -- Wayne Roller Memorial Tournament at home
*Sept. 17 -- Home vs. Grove City