The Lady Golden Eagle are primed and ready for the outdoor track season and a run at the elusive OCC Capital Division championship.
Big Walnut, coming off an indoor season that saw the Golden Eagles capture their fourth Central District Indoor title, opens pursuit of the 2014 Division I Outdoor District crown on Tuesday, April 1, with Westerville Central at Golden Eagle Stadium.
Veteran coach Joe Evener (326-12) enters his 20th season as Big Walnut’s head coach with 46 athletes on a roster that features 9 seniors and 19 returning letter winners who broke, set or tied 13 school record while posting runnerup finishes in both the Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division and Division I Central District Championships and finishing with a 96-14 record last season. The Big Walnut won four meets, including the Golden Eagle Relays, Heath Invitational, Brooke Invitational and the Delaware County Elite Eight.
Seniors Jamie Annis, Catie Craig-Bowden, Amber Shaheen and Olivia Small return as three-year letterwinners. Classmates Kristen Carty and Olivia Daggett are back as two-year veterans while Hannah Griffith is back after earning her first letter last season. Juniors letter winners include Sam Godby, Makenna Hemming, Avery Kerns, Mikaela Smith and Cassie Walaszek along with first-year letter winners Khaliyah Medlock, Addison Shawver and Kayla Corbin. For sophomores, Sara Althauser, Anna Mackey, Sami Rammelsberg and Erin Lescinsky, return after earning their first letter last season.
Small, the 2013 State outdoor long jump champion was honored as last season’s High Point Award winner, and Annis, who placed fourth in the State in the 100-meter hurdles, the Most Improved Award.
“This season, as in all of our successful seasons, begins with our talented senior class. This group is they key to what we can do this year. We have a lot of experience and a lot of talent. The success we accomplished during our indoor season is a great sign of what we are capable of doing in our outdoor season, Evener said. “One of the things, I believe that makes us such a competitive team is the concept of unity. We have seven coaches and 46 girls who understand our strength is in each other and that we support each other.”
The Golden Eagles enter the season coming off winning their fourth straight indoor District title, placing in the top 10 in the Indoor State Meet for the fifth year in a row with four indoor State qualifiers in Small, Griffith, Kerns and Mackey, along with Small’s two State titles, will be a springboard for April and May.
Big Walnut lost nine seniors to graduation of last season’s outdoor squad, including Asia Medlock, Leah Thomas, Laylaa Crawford, Bethany Bogantz, Stephanie Keller, Jordan Lyle, Olivia Beckett, Jessica Saunders and Coral Dannatt. Crawford was last season’s Most Valuable Athlete, Lyle the recipient of the Coaches Award, Bogantz the Senior Award, and Medlock the coveted Golden Eagle Award for academic and athletic achievements.
Evener will look to seniors Devin Ardner and Randi Rammelsberg; juniors Sarah Bickel, Casey Kibler, Erin Lanning, Hannah Boseker, Hannah Gollihugh, Gresha Berisha and Maira Bordieri; sophomores Madison Bayer, Gabby Pecci, Colleen White and Kayle Tanner; and freshmen Caroline Craig-Bowden, Julie Foreman, Anna Vrancken, Morgan White, Emma Grumney, Bryn Rammelsberg, Alaina Wandling, Maddie Bodie, Kaylea Senters, Ariana Sipes, Andrea Bryan, Maya Israel, Emily Hoffman and Courtney Holland for depth.
Looking at the OCC Capital Division, Evener has challenged his Golden Eagles to claim their first OCC title since 2004.
“The OCC is one of the toughest track conference in Central Ohio. In the past five seasons the OCC Capital has produced six District team champions and four District team runnerups as well as countless State qualifiers, placers and champions. I don’t think there’s another conference in Central Ohio regardless of sport that can say that,” said Evener who has won three OCC titles (1998, 2000, 2004) in 19 seasons at Big Walnut, earning OCC Coach-of-the-Year recognition all three seasons. “With the loss of longtime rival Watkins Memorial, New Albany will no doubt be the major obstacle to win the division title. We need to be solid through all 17 events to put ourselves in position to make a run at it.”
Evener will be assisted by “Red” Edwards (hurdles), Mike Ryder (jumps), Dora Riggs (throws), Melissa Pecci (distance), Keven Abrams (pole vault) and Nathan Goettemoller (volunteer). Pecci and Goettemoller are new to the staff.