The New Albany girls golf team's second trip to the Division I state tournament bears some similarities to the first.
Like last year, the Eagles are undefeated heading into state Friday, Oct. 18, and Saturday, Oct. 19, at Ohio State's Gray Course. Four golfers from last year's lineup again are competing in senior Gwynnie Lee, junior Madison Spiess and sophomores Kary Hollenbaugh and Anna Ritter.
And yet again, New Albany heads to state with the lowest score among all qualifiers.
The Eagles shot a 305 at district Oct. 8 at New Albany Links, nine shots ahead of runner-up and fellow state-qualifier Upper Arlington.
As far as the Eagles are concerned, there is one considerable difference between this year's team, which enters state at 218-0, and the one that went 187-0 a year ago and won the state title with a two-day record score of 592, 26 shots ahead of runner-up Olentangy Orange.
"Last year gave us more experience, so we know the course," Hollenbaugh said. "(Freshman Anna Coccia) hasn't played there before, but she will do well, I think. Last year taught us a lot. We'd never been there before. Now we have the experience we need."
Coccia is the only new player in this year's postseason lineup. Morgan Pankow, a 2019 graduate, now is a freshman at the University of Miami.
Ritter shot a 71 to earn medalist honors at district. Also scoring were Hollenbaugh (75), Spiess (78) and Coccia (81).
Lee shot an 85.
Only eight of 72 golfers shot in the 70s at district.
"I putted really well. It was a straightforward round," Ritter said. "I had a bogey and two birdies. The tee shots are hard on this course. You can't always drive off the tee on a par-4 or par-5 because you have to lay up before a creek or a bunker."
The day began chilly and damp with temperatures in the low 50s, but by the end of the round, drier, warmer conditions led to faster fairways and greens.
"The water on the greens slowed down the putts (early), but we got a lot more roll and the ball would go farther," Hollenbaugh said.
New Albany and UA bring the top two qualifying scores to state.
"There is some pressure to (repeat)," Hollenbaugh said. "Our team just has to keep playing the best we can."
Ritter said the team has put last year in the rear-view mirror as much as possible.
"We came into this season not really having high expectations, but we just wanted to do the same thing we did last year," Ritter said. "We had to play our own game each tournament, but it would mean a lot if we win again."
Football team prepares for Golden Eagles
Football coach Bubba Kidwell hopes his team can start as fast Friday, Oct. 18, when it travels to Big Walnut as it did Oct. 11 in a 48-0 rout of visiting Newark.
The Eagles scored 34 points in the first 12 minutes, 15 seconds and amassed 536 yards of offense, including 436 on the ground. Reed Hall rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 15 carries and Mechi McCaulley added 115 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries as New Albany improved to 4-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Capital.
Jadyn Garnes and Brody Kidwell each added a rushing touchdown and the Eagles intercepted Wildcats quarterback Jaden Woods three times.
"Our offensive line executed very well and Reed got outside and got some big runs," coach Kidwell said. "We didn't play well against Canal Winchester (in a 41-27 loss Oct. 4) and we were eager to show we were a better football team than how we'd played that night. We had an outstanding start."
Big Walnut improved to 4-3 overall and 2-0 in the league with a 49-19 win over visiting Franklin Heights on Oct. 11. Quarterback Jagger Barnett completed 10 of 14 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns, two to wide receiver Craig Norman.
"They definitely have a dynamic quarterback and he'll throw an excellent ball to several different wide receivers. He runs the ball well, too," coach Kidwell said. "Defensively, they fly to the football. They are very, very physical. They aren't the biggest defense, but they come right at you."
Runners sweep league titles
For the second consecutive season, the boys and girls cross country teams swept the OCC-Capital championships.
Led by Victor Orsinelli's second-place finish (16:33.19) and five runners in the top 10, the boys scored 23 points Oct. 12 at Lancaster to finish first ahead of Canal Winchester (60), Newark (67), Groveport (103) and Big Walnut (134).
Also scoring were Will Benseler (third, 17:10.23), Ethan McNichols (fourth, 17:11.8), Colin Swincicki (fifth, 17:14.87) and Luke Weibel (ninth, 17:40.26).
The girls used a similar pack approach to score 36 points and win their fourth consecutive title ahead of Big Walnut (38), Canal Winchester (63), Newark (99) and Groveport (145).
Mary Carson was fourth (20:25.6), followed by Stephanie Thomas (fifth, 20:25.6), E'Moni Saxton (sixth, 20:47.5), Mary Schultz (10th, 21:09.8) and Sammie Sika (11th, 21:20.1).
Both teams will participate in Division I district meets Saturday, Oct. 19, at Hilliard Darby.
The boys are in district 1, from which the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North. The girls are in district 2, where the top six teams and top 24 individuals advance.
Boys golf season ends at district
Two of the boys golf team's top five golfers are eligible to return after the Eagles finished 10th (321) of 12 teams in the Division I district tournament Oct. 8 at Apple Valley behind champion Dublin Jerome (300).
Seniors Jacob Brooks (77) and Jack Curtis (78) led New Albany, followed by junior Zach Blaney (81) and senior Caleb Delaney (85). Junior Victor Appell shot an 87.
"It was right about where we averaged all year long. Not good, not bad but kind of what I expected. This is a tough competition," said coach Ryan Hosack, whose team won its ninth consecutive OCC-Capital championship. "We have a fun sophomore class so we're excited to see what they can do this next year. Most of them played on varsity B this year and will be juniors next year. There will be open spots, which is rare. We'll probably have five guys competing for three spots, which will be good."
Tennis players fall short at district
Neither of the girls tennis team's doubles pairings won a match in the Division I district tournament Oct. 10 at Reynoldsburg, bringing the Eagles' season to an end.
Seniors Thalia Fuentes and Maya Klein lost 6-0, 6-0 to Jerome's Arya Dudipala and Lalasa Nagireddy, and senior Isabelle Campbell and sophomore Helen Wang fell to Pickerington Central's Semmie Moore and Khandice Thomas 6-0, 6-2.
Several other players are expected to return from a team that went 14-6 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Capital to win its 13th league championship in 14 years, including juniors Roshni Chandawarkar and Spiess, Hollenbaugh and freshman Demi Shostak.
Below are the coming schedules for the New Albany field hockey, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 16 -- Played sixth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in second round of district tournament. Winner plays fifth-seeded Olentangy Liberty, ninth-seeded Olentangy or 12th-seeded Bexley in district semifinal Oct. 22 at home of better seed. The Eagles are seeded fourth.
Oct. 15 -- Played 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 at home of better seed. Winner plays eighth-seeded Olentangy Orange, 47th-seeded Columbus West or 48th-seeded Zanesville in district semifinal Oct. 22 at home of better seed. The Eagles are seeded 14th.
Oct. 19 -- Home vs. 24th-seeded Kilbourne or 36th-seeded Whetstone in second round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays 15th-seeded Olentangy Berlin, 22nd-seeded Reynoldsburg or 23rd-seeded Dublin Scioto in district semifinal Oct. 23 at home of better seed. The Eagles are seeded eighth.
Oct. 14 -- Played 32nd-seeded Teays Valley in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner visited 13th-seeded Kilbourne in second round Oct. 16. Winner plays eighth-seeded Hartley, 27th-seeded Marysville, 30th-seeded Hilliard Davidson or 43rd-seeded Groveport in district semifinal Oct. 22 at Whitehall. The Eagles are seeded 20th.