Girls Golf: Dublin Coffman preparing to take on state's best

JARROD ULREY
julrey@thisweeknews.com
Junior Megan Kestner and the Coffman girls golf team opened OCC-Central action Aug. 12 at Royal American. "I feel like we're a top-five team in the state without a doubt," Shamrocks coach Randy Patton said.

The returning experience his program possesses leads coach Randy Patton to believe the Dublin Coffman girls golf team could be "a top-five team in the state" this fall.

Whether the Shamrocks get a chance to prove that in the Division I state tournament will be determined by how they handle regular battles against central Ohio's best.

Two-time defending state champion New Albany, which set a state tournament record last fall when it shot 571 on Ohio State's Gray Course, and last year's state runner-up, Upper Arlington, are in the OCC-Central Division with Coffman.

The Shamrocks, who placed third (12-8) in the league behind the Eagles (20-0) and Golden Bears (16-4) last fall, opened OCC-Central action Aug. 12 at Royal American. The second round is Wednesday, Aug. 19, at New Albany Links, followed by the third round Aug. 26 at Mentel Memorial and the final round Sept. 2 at Blacklick Woods.

"We've got a really good team," said Patton, who is in his ninth season. "On paper we're the second-best team in the area, but Jerome has improved and is pretty good and you have Arlington. Our experience with a couple really good seniors, I like where we're at. I feel like we're a top-five team in the state without a doubt, but we've got to prove it. (The) Central (District) only (advances) two (teams to state), and we were the third-best team in central Ohio last year. We beat every one of those teams that placed fifth through 10th at state last year."

Senior Annika Manjunath, juniors Ava Guilliams and Megan Kestner and sophomore Ellie Lim have returned after being regular contributors.

Guilliams finished ninth (80) and Manjunath tied for 10th (81) in last year's district tournament at New Albany Links as Coffman finished third (325) behind New Albany (305) and UA (314).

Manjunath averaged 74.8 in the OCC-Central to earn first-team all-league honors. Lim averaged 80.8 and made the second team, and Guilliams and 2020 graduate Jenna Lynn averaged 84 and 82.8, respectively, to earn honorable mention.

Junior Jessica Steller is another returnee. Sophomore Sara Mizer and freshman Alex Deree are others looking to contribute.

"I'm excited," Patton said. "Four of our top five have been through the wars and have been kind of marching along. We want to prove ourselves."

Celtics to field strong lineup

During his tenure as Jerome's coach, C.D. Butcher guided the program to five consecutive Division I state championships from 2011-15 and to state tournament appearances in 2016 and 2017.

With that in mind, the praise he has for his current team might be somewhat eye-opening.

"We're no New Albany, but we're the deepest team I've ever had," said Butcher, who is in his 15th season. "That's saying a lot. I had five girls in the 70s for 54 holes of qualifying tryouts and had another seven in the low 80s. We're right on the cusp and have a lot of young girls in the program who are going to contribute right away."

The Celtics, who have won 15 league championships in 16 seasons, including last season when they went 26-0 in the OCC-Cardinal, began league competition Aug. 12 at Mentel Memorial.

They continue league action Wednesday, Aug. 19, at Blacklick Woods. The third round is Aug. 26 at Royal American and the final round is Sept. 2 at New Albany Links.

Junior Emma Sparling and sophomore Audrey Ryu are the top returnees from last year's team, which won a sectional at Royal American with a 321 and placed fourth (341) in the district tournament behind champion New Albany (305). The top two teams advanced to state, where the Eagles won their second consecutive state title.

Seniors Izzy Adams and Lindsay Mayo, who were contributors as sophomores, have cracked the lineup.

Freshman Mia Ringger also finished in the top five during the Celtics' tryouts, and classmate Addie Yarbrough is another looking to contribute.

On Aug. 7 in the 27-team Pickerington North Invitational at Turnberry, Jerome was runner-up (330) behind Mason (307).

Ash Abhang, who tied for 10th at district last season, and Caitlin Yant were lost to graduation.

"They put the work in and do what they have to do," Butcher said. "I've got a good feeling about this group. It's going to be a good, close-knit group that likes to work, so we'll see where that takes us.

"What I like best is that they're just so competitive. They want to do well and they really want to win, but they don't allow their frustration to get to them."

-- Jarrod Ulrey

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Irish coach looking forward to season

Second-year Scioto coach Matt Bickley is hoping to see continued progress this fall.

"This is an interesting start to our season, but we're hoping we can get a season in and have a good time doing it," Bickley said.

The Irish opened the four-round OCC-Cardinal tournament Aug. 12 at Mentel Memorial and will play in the second round Wednesday, Aug. 19, at Blacklick Woods.

They return three players from last season, including senior Alex Kopelcheck, who shot a 97 in a Division I sectional at Mentel Memorial.

"Alex is definitely the leader," Bickley said. "She's our strongest player, our most consistent player. That's what I'm expecting, especially as the season starts."

Also back are senior Mackenzie Wood and junior Natalia Kantner.

"We have three returning and all three played in the OCC, so we have a little bit of experience," Bickley said.

Juniors Sophia Butler and Preshecca Ragavan and freshman Lucia Bendure-Goodyear round out the team.

Ragavan saw some playing time last season in nine-hole tournaments, while Bendure-Goodyear played for Davis Middle School. Butler is new to the sport.

Last season, Scioto finished fifth (8-18) in OCC-Cardinal play behind champion Jerome (26-0).

"Jerome is going to be strong again," Bickley said. "(Hilliard) Darby also returns a good bit, so they should be really strong again. Delaware also returns their best players, so they're going to be pretty tough to beat as well. Jerome is always the team to beat."

Scioto is looking to replace 2020 graduate Nicole Santoso, who led the team at sectional (96) last season. She was honorable mention all-league with a 96 average in the league tournament.

-- Frank DiRenna

sports@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSports

At a glance

COFFMAN

*Coach: Randy Patton, ninth season

*Top players: Ava Guilliams, Megan Kestner, Ellie Lim, Annika Manjunath and Jessica Steller

*Key loss: Jenna Lynn

*2019 OCC-Central standings: New Albany (20-0), Upper Arlington (16-4), Coffman (12-8), Marysville (8-12), Hilliard Davidson (3-17), Canal Winchester (1-19)

*2019 postseason: Second at sectional, third at district

JEROME

*Coach: C.D. Butcher, 15th season

*Top players: Izzy Adams, Lindsay Mayo, Mia Ringger, Emma Sparling and Audrey Ryu

*Key losses: Ash Abhang and Caitlin Yant

*2019 OCC-Cardinal standings: Jerome (26-0), Delaware (20-6), Hilliard Darby (20-6), Hilliard Bradley (14-12), Scioto (8-18), Olentangy Berlin (5-21), Worthington Kilbourne (5-21), Thomas Worthington (0-14)

*2019 postseason: First at sectional, fourth at district

SCIOTO

*Coach: Matt Bickley, second season

*Top players: Alex Kopelcheck and Mackenzie Wood

*Key losses: Lauren Perry, Nicole Santoso and Samantha Schaaf

*2019 OCC-Cardinal standings: Jerome (26-0), Delaware (20-6), Darby (20-6), Bradley (14-12), Scioto (8-18), Berlin (5-21), Kilbourne (5-21), Thomas (0-14)

*2019 postseason: Eighth at sectional

Sophomore Audrey Ryu is among the top returnees for the Jerome girls golf team and 15th-year coach C.D. Butcher. The Celtics have won 15 league championships in 16 seasons, including last fall.