New Albany water polo coach Steven Huizenga hopes the foundation is being laid for the Eagles to compete at both the varsity and junior varsity levels next season, given his team's improving performance.
For now, the Eagles will try to finish the year on a high note Friday, Oct. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 12, when they participate in the junior varsity state tournament at Napoleon.
New Albany, which was state runner-up last year, is 5-8, including 1-2 in games against varsity competition.
"Three years ago, I started scheduling us to play in a varsity tournament each year. We generally got it handed to us each year, but it's a great learning experience," Huizenga said. "The first year, I think we scored one goal the whole tournament (the Ohio Cup at Thomas Worthington). The next year we did a bit better. This year, we scored 20 goals in three games and recorded our first varsity win (7-6 over Sycamore on Sept. 8). ...
"The kids who play really enjoy it. We have a pretty wide range of skill levels in the water. I have several swimmers who play, but also several non-swimmers. They all really enjoy it."
According to Huizenga, senior Jimmy Lapsley and sophomore A.J. Denny combined for more than 30 goals through 10 games.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Alex Arlin, Luke Parsons and Sam Sarkisian, juniors Alex Apple, Patrick Daly, Cade Helms and Caleb Schimming, sophomores A.J. Denny, Billy Gastineau, Federico Monsalve and Jack Smith, freshmen Teja Akella, Chase Baldwin, Jack Gastineau, Colin Rogers and Wyatt Spalding and eighth-grader Connor Sauvey.
Billy Gastineau and Monsalve share goalkeeping duties.
Rogers is the team's only girl.
"Parsons and Sarkisian ... have played for a few years and they've each done a great job helping the new players develop," Huizenga said. "That's a big part of our success this year. Alex Apple has been a player with us for three years now and is our key defensive player. He's a strong body in the water and can stop just about any offensive player ... he matches up against."
Doubles teams advance to district
The doubles teams of Isabelle Campbell and Helen Wang and Thalia Fuentes and Maya Klein will represent the girls tennis team in the Division I district tournament Thursday, Oct. 10, and Saturday, Oct. 12, at Reynoldsburg.
Fuentes and Klein went 3-1 and placed third in a sectional that concluded Oct. 5 at Reynoldsburg, defeating Campbell and Wang 6-4, 6-4 in the third-place match. Fuentes and Klein were the top seed.
Campbell and Wang finished 2-2.
Also competing but failing to advance were singles players Madison Spiess (2-1), Demi Shostak (0-1) and Justina Sung (0-1).
At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles will advance to state Oct. 18 and 19 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
New Albany finished its dual-match schedule with a 14-6 record, losing to visiting Olentangy Liberty 3-2 on Sept. 30 and 4-1 at Pickerington North the next day.
Golf squads dominate sectionals
The boys and girls golf teams both participated in Division I district tournaments Oct. 8, with the girls hoping to remain undefeated and the boys looking for their first state berth as a team since 2013.
The girls improved to 210-0 on the season by shooting a 286 in a sectional Oct. 2 at Blacklick Woods, finishing first ahead of runner-up Dublin Coffman (324) as 11 teams scored.
New Albany's five competitors took the top five spots in a field of 54 individuals.
Kary Hollenbaugh was medalist with a 69, followed by Spiess (70), Anna Ritter (71) and Anna Coccia and Gwynnie Lee, both of whom shot a 76. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the district tournament at New Albany Links.
In a boys sectional Oct. 2 at Turnberry, the Eagles finished third (312) behind champion Pickerington North (306) as 15 teams scored. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district at Apple Valley.
Scoring for the Eagles were Zach Blaney (76), Jacob Brooks (77), Jack Curtis (79) and Caleb Delaney (80).
From both district tournaments, the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state Oct. 18 and 19 at Ohio State.
Below are the coming schedules for the New Albany cross country, field hockey, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 12 -- OCC-Capital meet at Lancaster
*Oct. 10 -- At Columbus School for Girls
Oct. 16 -- Home vs. sixth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in second round of district tournament. The Eagles are seeded fourth.
*Oct. 10 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights
Oct. 12 -- Home vs. St. Charles
Oct. 15 -- Home vs. 16th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays 12th-seeded Reynoldsburg or 52nd-seeded Independence in second round Oct. 17. The Eagles are seeded 14th.
*Oct. 10 -- At Franklin Heights
Oct. 19 -- Home vs. 24th-seeded Kilbourne or 36th-seeded Whetstone in second round of Division I district tournament. The Eagles are seeded eighth.
*Oct. 10 -- At Franklin Heights. The Eagles defeated the Falcons 25-7, 25-8, 25-6 on Sept. 17.
Oct. 14 -- Home vs. 32nd-seeded Teays Valley in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner visits 13th-seeded Kilbourne in second round Oct. 16. The Eagles are seeded 20th.