Bexley High School boys golf coach Jimmy Ryan isn't one to dwell on statistics, but a preseason practice round seemed to catch his attention.
"We shot a 310 in tryouts, which isn't a bad score for such a young team," he said. "Our top five are three juniors, a sophomore and a freshman. We're young, but I think we are a team with a lot of talent."
The Lions had a strong showing Aug. 8 in the 17-team Heath Invitational at Burning Tree, finishing second (315) behind Johnstown (312). Junior Hunter Roberts was medalist with a 71.
Cameron Karmia and Davis Williams are the other juniors returning to a team that finished third (332) last season in an 11-team Division II sectional at Granville Golf Course. In the district tournament at River Greens, Bexley shot 324 and tied Bloom-Carroll for the third and final state-qualifying berth, but the Lions lost the fifth-player tiebreaker by one stroke.
Matt Abramson, a 2014 graduate, advanced to state as an individual and tied for 21st (163) among 72 competitors. He shot a 74 at district, ahead of Roberts (81), Karmia (84), sophomore Josh Meyer (85) and Williams (95).
"Matt was a great player, but all of my guys won golf tournaments this summer, so I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do this season," Ryan said. "If you get guys breaking 80, then you're doing a really good job. We have a lot of competitors."
Meyer was first-team all-MSL-Ohio Division last season with Roberts. Williams was honorable mention in the MSL-Ohio, where Bexley placed second (14-4) behind Columbus Academy (17-1).
In 2012, the Lions (18-3) also were runners-up to Academy (20-1).
Ryan, who is in his 12th year, expects his group can make a run at the Vikings again this season.
"They graduated two people and we graduated one," he said. "They're certainly the team to beat, but, obviously, it's our goal to win it."
In trying to reach that goal, two freshmen, Zander Kauffman and Will Hoyer, expect to be in the mix, as well as junior Max Lehman. Both Kauffman and Lehman have been scoring in the low-80s, Ryan said.
Girls golf coach goes back to basics
Second-year girls golf coach Cory Tucker has stressed the short game and it appears to be paying off.
The Lions took third (395) on Aug. 6 in the 12-team Mid-Ohio Girls Golf League opener at Phoenix behind Watterson (322) and Granville (381). Junior Liza Weisman shot a 77 to tie for second with Megan Wong of Columbus School for Girls.
"We shot 60 strokes less than we did in our lowest 18-hole match last season," said Tucker, whose team lost its MSL opener to Madison Plains 182-185 on Aug. 7 at Locust Hills. "We went back to the basics and focused on 100 yards in. If you can't chip and putt, you can't score."
Weisman, a returning Division II state qualifier, will lead a group of juniors that includes Vahni Kurra, Georgia Curran and Sophie Schuff. Weisman was Player of the Year last season in the MSL, where Bexley placed fourth (7-8) of six teams behind champion Madison Plains (15-0).
In a sectional at Blacklick Woods, the Lions were fifth (430) as Centerburg (394) won the 10-team event. Weisman shot 72 at sectional then qualified for state with a 78 at district at Blacklick Woods. She tied for 14th (161) at state among 71 competitors.
"Last year, we were very young," Tucker said. "We were retooling and learning the game of golf. We are planning on being effective this year."
The Lions hope to be one of the prominent teams in the area, as they were in 2012 when Bexley won Division II sectional, MOGGL and MSL-Ohio titles.
A year ago, Bexley was 20-26 overall, compared to its 60-16 finish in 2012.
"I expect our girls to make a lot of noise," Tucker said. "We're looking to make a splash in both leagues this year."
Girls tennis team expects improvement
The girls tennis team returns several Division II district qualifiers as it looks to again challenge Columbus Academy for the MSL-Ohio title.
"The girls gained a lot of experience last year in being a young team," said coach Shelby Cheses, who began her eighth season Aug. 12 at Hilliard Darby. "Hopefully, that experience from last year will help drive these girls. They really like each other and they're having a good time."
Helping to lead the group is singles player Caroline Phillips, a junior who reached a semifinal of last year's sectional at Academy. She lost in the first round at district, as did the doubles teams of sophomores Maggie Walker and Allison Meyer and 2014 graduates Hallie Wirthman and Katie Butler.
Phillips was a first-team all-league selection with junior Sammi Levy, who also will compete primarily in singles. Walker and Meyer were honorable mention all-league.
Also returning is Sarah Gundy, a senior singles player. Two newcomers in sophomore Annalise Phelps, who moved from Minnesota, and freshman Haley Wilson also are expected to contribute.
"We're going to focus more on consistency and strategy this year," Cheses said. "In know at this level you see a lot of players just wanting to get the ball back. A lot of coaches teach that power is important, but you need to be able to control those powerful shots."
Cheses hopes that strategy helps the Lions challenge Academy, which won the league (44, 5-0) a year ago ahead of Bexley (31, 4-1). The Lions, who went 8-8 overall last fall, open league play Aug. 21 at Academy.
Aug. 7 -- Warrior-Jaguar Invitational at NorthStar
Aug. 8 -- Heath Invitational at Burning Tree
Aug. 11 -- MSL-Ohio preseason tournament at Darby Creek
Aug. 14 -- Hartley at Westchester
Aug. 19 -- Teays Valley at Westchester
*Aug. 21 -- West Jefferson at Westchester
Aug. 23 -- Mount Gilead Invitational at Pine Lakes
*Aug. 26 -- Columbus Academy at Clover Valley
*Aug. 28 -- Madison Plains at Westchester
Aug. 30 -- Upper Arlington Pinnacle Classic at Pinnacle
*Sept. 2 -- London at London Country Club
Sept. 6 -- Bexley Invitational at Westchester
*Sept. 9 -- Grandview at Westchester
*Sept. 11 -- Worthington Christian at NorthStar
Sept. 16 -- MSL-Ohio postseason tournament at Darby Creek
Sept. 18 -- Madison Christian at The Links at Groveport
Sept. 20 -- Rodney Butt Classic at Granville Golf Course
Sept. 27 -- Watterson Invitational at Tartan Fields
Aug. 6 -- MOGGL at Phoenix
*Aug. 7 -- Madison Plains at Locust Hills
Aug. 8 -- Top 19 Tournament at Homestead Springs
Aug. 12 -- MSL preseason tournament at Homestead Springs
Aug. 18 -- Centerburg at Table Rock
*Aug. 19 -- Liberty Union at TBA
*Aug. 21 -- Circleville at Blacklick Woods
*Aug. 25 -- Logan Elm at Blacklick Woods
Aug. 26 -- MOGGL at TBA
*Aug. 28 -- Teays Valley at Foxfire
Sept. 2 -- Columbus School for Girls at Blacklick Woods
Sept. 6 -- Bexley Invitational at Blacklick Woods
*Sept. 8 -- Millersport at Blacklick Woods
Sept. 10 -- MOGGL at TBA
Sept. 15 -- Centerburg at Blacklick Woods
Sept. 17 -- MSL postseason tournament at Homestead Springs
Aug. 12 -- at Hilliard Darby
Aug. 14 -- vs. Granville
Aug. 16 -- Columbus School for Girls Doubles Davis Cup
*Aug. 21 -- at Columbus Academy
*Sept. 4 -- at London
*Sept. 9 -- vs. Whitehall
Sept. 10 -- at Wellington
*Sept. 11 -- vs. Grandview
*Sept. 16 -- at Worthington Christian
Sept. 17 -- vs. Columbus School for Girls
Sept. 18 -- at Upper Arlington
Sept. 20 -- MSL-Ohio tournament at Worthington Christian
Sept. 23 -- at Pickerington Central