New Albany Roundup: Girls golf squad still going strong

DAVE PURPURA
dpurpura@thisweeknews.com
Junior Kary Hollenbaugh placed fifth individually at last year's Division I state tournament as the Eagles earned their second consecutive state championship.

Two Division I state championships and a 416-0 record the past two years make it easy for the New Albany girls golf team to set its goals for this season and beyond.

But with at least two seasons remaining for most of the Eagles' top five, coach Rich Ritter does not expect his players' growth to slow.

"I think those top four today are better than they were in October," said Ritter, whose fourth season began Aug. 8 with Toledo Notre Dame Academy's Eagle Invitational at South Toledo Golf Club. "There's not much doubt about that. Kary (Hollenbaugh) and Anna Ritter in particular have done some good things in (American Junior Golf Association) tournaments. They haven't won, but they've been close. There are dimensions of their games that are very strong or have continued to improve. ...

"This team has the potential to be as good or better than either of the last two years, honestly."

Anna Ritter, a junior and last year's state tournament medalist, and classmate Hollenbaugh return as part of a lineup that also includes senior Madison Spiess and sophomore Anna Coccia ahead of spirited competition for the fifth, sixth and seventh spots.

Spiess and Hollenbaugh were fourth and fifth individually at state last year, when the Eagles finished 229-0 and shot a two-day total of 571 at state to break the tournament record of 592 they set in 2018.

Their final-round score of 282 also broke by seven shots their record from the previous day.

Coach Ritter's estimation of his team's ability relies more on the players' individual growth than their potential record or score.

"The depth from one through four and the capabilities in those four spots, I just think that looking back at those teams as compared to where I evaluate them today, those spots are a little stronger now," he said.

Freshman Emerson Purcell began the season in the fifth spot, ahead of juniors Ellie McNutt and Lily Canales, respectively.

McNutt saw varsity time throughout the past two seasons but missed much of last year because of a wrist injury.

Purcell and Spiess missed the Eagle Invitational for an out-of-state tournament and college visit, respectively, but were expected to rejoin the team for the Lady Lion Invitational on Aug. 10 at Jefferson.

"When the team is all together, any of those top three could be (Nos.) 1, 2 or 3 any day. It just depends on the trend of how they're playing," coach Ritter said. "I don't keep them locked into spots. If one of them is playing a little better and the numbers are better, they'll be (first). I think it's good for those girls in particular and anybody who can challenge them to have a competitive environment."

New Albany began OCC-Central Division competition Aug. 12 with the first round of the four-round league tournament at Royal American. The Eagles went 20-0 last year to finish four matches ahead of Upper Arlington, which again placed second behind New Albany at both district and state.

Last year's Eagles were handed a rare loss in their final tournament together, the High School Golf National Invitational that concluded Aug. 4 at Pinehurst. In the event consisting of state championship teams and medalists, the team -- representing Ohio rather than New Albany specifically -- shot a three-day total of 926 to place second, six shots behind the Arizona team from Phoenix Pinnacle.

Hollenbaugh shot a 222 to tie for fifth of 103 individuals.

"It was fun to have that team together one more time. With everything going on, some of them had seen each other but all five of them hadn't been together at any point (since last fall)," coach Ritter said. "It was fun. We had a real shot to pull it off and it was good to see the girls compete and grind it out to the finish."

Appell, Blaney back to lead boys golfers

The boys golf team will have to fight its way up the OCC-Ohio standings if it hopes to win its 10th consecutive league championship under second-year coach Ryan Hosack.

New Albany, which had been in the OCC-Capital since 2006, came in third (319) in the first round of the league tournament Aug. 6 at Darby Creek.

Junior Jackson Fry shot a 76 to pace the Eagles, who finished behind Grove City (302) and Westerville Central (311) and ahead of Gahanna (325) and Pickerington North (332).

Westland did not record a team score.

Also scoring for New Albany were seniors Victor Appell (80) and Zach Blaney (81) and senior Jayson Beckner (82).

Junior Gibson Dain shot an 85.

Appell and Blaney were mainstays in the lineup last year for the Eagles, who went 15-1 in the OCC-Capital to finish two matches ahead of Big Walnut (13-3). The Golden Eagles handed New Albany its first loss in league competition since the 2013 season.

The second round of the league tournament was Aug. 12 at Apple Valley.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

At a glance

BOYS GOLF

*Coach: Ryan Hosack, second season

*Top players: Victor Appell, Jayson Beckner, Zach Blaney and Jackson Fry

*Key losses: Jacob Brooks, Jack Curtis and Caleb Delaney

*2019 OCC-Capital standings: New Albany (15-1), Big Walnut (13-3), Canal Winchester (8-8), Newark (4-12), Groveport (0-16)

*2019 postseason: Third at sectional, 10th at district

GIRLS GOLF

*Coach: Rich Ritter, fourth season

*Top players: Anna Coccia, Kary Hollenbaugh, Anna Ritter and Madison Spiess

*Key loss: Gwynnie Lee

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

*2019 postseason: First at sectional, first at district, first at state

Senior Zach Blaney is among the top returnees for the New Albany boys golf team, which is chasing its 10th consecutive league championship.