Big Walnut Roundup: Austen Bennett, Blake Shade wrap up season in district tournament
Austen Bennett of the Big Walnut boys golf team knew his chances of advancing to the state tournament had faded.
While the senior carded a 45 on his first nine holes in the Division I district tournament Oct. 13 at Apple Valley, he regrouped and closed out his round with a 40.
“I think it was more that I knew I didn’t have a shot anymore, so I just settled down and relaxed,” said Bennett, who finished with an 85 that tied him for 63rd among 72 golfers.
His teammate, senior Blake Shade, was four strokes better with an 81 that gave him a tie for 42nd. However, only the top two individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to the state tournament Friday, Oct. 23, and Saturday, Oct. 24, at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course.
“Realistically, it was going to be a longshot to make it (to state),” coach Charlie Brodhead said. “More or less, you’ve got to shoot par or below to make it. But I’m happy with the way they played. Getting here was a great feat.”
Their play in the Denison Golf Club sectional Oct. 7 put them among the top four individuals not on a qualifying team to advance to district. Bennett shot a 77, and Shade finished with an 80.
Big Walnut nearly made district as a team, shooting 324 to tie New Albany for the fourth and final berth. However, the Eagles’ Victor Appell finished three strokes (85) better than Golden Eagles junior Ryan Tripp (88), which gave New Albany the fifth-score tiebreaker.
Others competing at sectional were juniors Kolin McKee (83) and Corbin Borchers (84).
“Losing those two seniors (Bennett and Shade) will be tough spots to fill,” Brodhead said. “Hopefully, these younger guys know what it takes to advance.”
The girls team finished eighth (406) behind champion Dublin Coffman (331) in a 12-team Division I sectional Oct. 6 at Mental Memorial.
Senior Kat Brehm had a team-best 98, followed by senior Audrey Hofer (99), junior Emma Doty (101), sophomore Danielle Maynard (108) and junior Skylar Overbaugh (113).
Tennis team’s season
ends at sectional
Junior Kina Ehlers and sophomore Molly McLane earned victories in singles play as the girls tennis team closed its season in a Division I sectional tournament held Oct. 8 and 10 at Pickerington Central.
Ehlers and McLane each went 1-1 while the Golden Eagles’ other competitors — senior Alena Lefevre in singles, junior doubles players Karen Ambrose and Addy Smith and senior doubles players Avery Wagner and Lindsey Stevens — lost their opening matches.
“Central Ohio has so many good teams and so many kids that play year-round,” said Big Walnut coach Ryan Balaz, whose team finished 15-5 overall. “It’s probably the most competitive sectional tournament I’ve been a part of. There was some really good tennis.”
While the postseason was challenging, Big Walnut completed an undefeated run (7-0) through the OCC-Capital Division schedule with a 5-0 victory over Canal Winchester on Sept. 8.
The win gave Balaz his 100th career victory in 10 seasons at Big Walnut, and the league title marked the end of four consecutive second-place OCC-Capital finishes to New Albany, which moved to the OCC-Ohio this season.
wins playoff opener
The football team earned its first postseason victory since 2011 with a 62-0 win against visiting and 24th-seeded Logan in a Division II, Region 7 first-round contest Oct. 9.
Ninth-seeded Big Walnut played at eighth-seeded Dublin Scioto in a second-round contest Oct. 16 in a rematch of a game won 15-14 by the Irish on Oct. 2.
The winner plays top-seeded Massillon Perry or 17th-seeded Canal Winchester in a regional quarterfinal Friday, Oct. 23, at the home field of the higher seed.
Big Walnut held Logan to just 31 total yards and produced 471.
Jagger Barnett completed 11 of 18 passes for 154 yards with three touchdowns, and Caden Williams rushed for 111 yards and two scores on 14 carries. Cam Gladden led the receivers with six catches for 74 yards and a touchdown.
•OCC-Capital standings: Worthington Kilbourne (21-0), Delaware (24-3), Big Walnut (19-8), Dublin Scioto (16-11), Westerville North (13-14), Canal Winchester (8-19), Westerville South (4-23), Franklin Heights (0-27)
•Seniors lost: Austen Bennett and Blake Shade
•Key returnees: Corbin Borchers, Kolin McKee and Ryan Tripp
•Postseason: Fifth (324) at sectional behind champion Dublin Jerome (298)
•OCC-Ohio standings: Grove City (20-0), Gahanna (13-7), Pickerington North (12-7-1), Pickerington Central (9-11), Big Walnut (5-15), Lancaster (0-19-1)
•Seniors lost: Kat Brehm, Audrey Hofer and Grace Unger
•Key returnees: Emma Doty, Danielle Maynard and Skylar Overbaugh
•Postseason: Eighth (406) behind champion Dublin Coffman (331)
•Record: 15-5 overall
•OCC-Capital standings: Big Walnut (7-0), Kilbourne (6-1), Scioto (5-2), Delaware (4-3), Westerville North (3-4), Westerville South (2-5), Canal Winchester (1-6), Franklin Heights (0-7)
•Seniors lost: Alena Lefevre, Ciara Matos, Lindsey Stevens and Avery Wagner
•Key returnees: Karen Ambrose, Kina Ehlers, Molly McLane and Addy Smith