The Olentangy Orange girls tennis team captured its second consecutive OCC-Buckeye Division championship, but it was far from easy.
The Pioneers entered their league showdown with Liberty on Sept. 25 without junior first-singles player Caroline Sproule, who was sitting out with a right wrist injury. That shuffled the lineup, but the second-doubles team of seniors Teresa Hawk and Gabi Valiulis won 6-4, 6-1 to clinch an outright league title with a 3-2 victory.
"I had no idea we were the final (doubles) match to determine the (league title)," said Valiulis, who moved up from j.v. to play in the contest. "Teresa is similar to my playing style and it works. But she is more of an all-around player and I play the net more."
Entering the contest, Hawk had yet to play doubles with Valiulis this season. They stayed focused on the task at hand.
"I tried to keep calm and make sure we focused on our match and played our game," Hawk said. "I was working on consistency and setting her up to put the ball away at the net."
Sophomore Karol Korotkin earned a win at third singles, as did the first-doubles team of senior Hannah Logan and sophomore Tyler Reed. Senior Kortney Reed played first singles and senior Erin Storrer played second singles.
"It's really rewarding because we worked really hard and it was nice to win even without our best player, Caroline, playing," Logan said. "That put some pressure on us because we knew we had to win our court if we were going to win the title."
The Pioneers finished 5-0 in the OCC-Buckeye, ahead of Olentangy (4-1), Liberty (3-2), Westerville Central (2-3), Westrville North (1-4) and Westerville South (0-5). Had the Patriots won, the three Olentangy schools would have shared the title.
"It was tough without Caroline, who had a wrist injury that kept her out," said coach Susan Storrer, whose team was 14-4 overall after defeating Dublin Scioto 5-0 on Sept. 30. "We tried to keep the second-doubles team calm because of the pressure of the match. They did a great job for us."
Orange lost to Pickerington North 3-2 on Sept. 24 in a Division I OTCA district semifinal.
The Pioneers compete Thursday, Oct. 3, and Saturday, Oct. 5, in a Division I sectional at Upper Arlington. Sproule is the top seed in singles, and Kortney Reed and Erin Storrer are the second seed in doubles.
Hawk and Korotkin also will play singles, with Logan and Tyler Reed as the other doubles team.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district Oct. 10 and 12 at Rey-noldsburg.
Boys race to third in Meet of Champions
The boys cross country team finished third of 21 teams in the Midwest Meet of Champions on Sept. 28 at Hilliard Bradley.
Jake Etheridge placed 11th in 16 minutes, 21.1 seconds to lead the Pioneers, who scored 141 points and finished behind Cleveland St. Ignatius (79) and Hunting Valley University School (129).
Cole Benishek (23rd, 16:55.8), Jay Shin (27th, 17:00.9), Bryan King (29th, 17:02.8) and Brant Yocum (51st, 17:40.6) also scored.
The girls finished 11th (277) of 22 teams behind champion Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (130). Abby Schroff (22nd, 20:01.9), Corinne Hazel (41st, 20:48.6), Medha Patria (64th, 21:21.0), Olivia Dieckmann (78th, 21:41.1) and Lainey Garling (83rd, 21:48.3) scored.
Stringer tops balanced attack for boys team
Senior forward Kyle Stringer was leading a balanced attack for the boys soccer team with six goals through 11 games.
Senior forward Eddie Muller and junior midfielder Alex James both had four goals. Senior midfielder Jack Kossoudji, senior defender Brandon Young and junior forward Zach Blendick all had three goals.
The Pioneers were 7-3-1 overall before playing Marys-ville on Oct. 1. They are 2-1 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Below are the coming schedules for the Orange cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 5 -- Les Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington
Oct. 7 -- Home vs. New Albany
*Oct. 9 -- At Liberty
Oct. 1 -- Competed in Division I sectional at Darby Creek. The top four teams and top four individuals not on those teams advanced to district Oct. 8 at Apple Valley.
Oct. 5 -- Wedgewood Showcase at Wedgewood
Oct. 1 -- Competed in Division I sectional at Royal American. The top four teams and top four individuals not on those teams advanced to district Oct. 8 at New Albany Links.
*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Olentangy
Oct. 5 -- At Big Walnut
Oct. 8 -- At Dublin Jerome
*Oct. 3 -- At Olentangy
*Oct. 3 -- At Olentangy. The Pioneers defeated the Braves 25-7, 25-13, 25-17 on Sept. 12.
Oct. 5 -- At DeSales
Oct. 8 -- At Pickerington North