The Delaware Hayes High School boys golf team is striving to be more competitive than it was last season.
With a solid one-two punch at the top of his lineup, coach Mike Nesselroad is hoping the rest of his players can find a way to cut strokes.
"I have two individuals who I believe will have the ability to advance in the postseason, but teamwise, in the regular season and the OCC-Capital (Division) matches, you're only as good as your highest score," Nesselroad said. "We're going to need our No. 3 through No. 6 guys to step up and play well. We need to trim their strokes down."
Sophomore Grant Godfrey has returned to lead the Pacers after qualifying for the Division I district tournament last season at Apple Valley, where he carded an 83 to finish eight strokes behind the third and final state qualifier. He shot an 80 in the sectional at The Players Club at Foxfire to earn the third of four district-qualifying berths.
Godfrey averaged 79.6 over 18 holes last season, the best by an underclassman in the program since 1999, according to Nesselroad.
"Grant had a really, really good summer," Nesselroad said. "He played against some real tough competition, especially in a national tournament in Florida. He's really come a long way since last year."
Godfrey tied for 53rd (240) of 96 players in the three-round Optimist International Junior Golf Championships held July 27-29 in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Another key returnee is junior Cole Haferman, who missed qualifying for district last year by one stroke.
Also back are senior Cody Ross and junior Lali Lakotas, with junior Jordan Lanham and sophomore Dan Van Brimmer rounding out the roster.
Delaware, which finished eighth of 13 teams in its sectional last year, opened Aug. 6 by placing sixth (341) in the first round of the OCC-Capital tournament at Apple Valley, behind defending champion New Albany (298), Olentangy (309), Mount Vernon (311), Olentangy Orange (331) and Big Walnut (339) and ahead of league newcomer Worthington Kilbourne (348) and Franklin Heights (no team score).
Godfrey led the Pacers with a 79, followed by Haferman (87), Ross (87) and Lanham (88).
In the second round Aug. 12 at Darby Creek, the Pacers finished seventh (344) behind Olentangy (304), New Albany (305), Mount Vernon (313), Orange (324), Kilbourne (328) and Big Walnut (336) and ahead of Franklin Heights (no team score).
Godfrey shot a team-best 77, followed by Lanham with an 85.
"Cole is playing very well right now," Nesselroad said. "... I think he could have a great season."
Delaware won the seven-team Fidelity Federal Savings and Loan Invitational on Aug. 8 at Oakhaven with a 319 and finished 13th (330) in the 17-team Steve Youmans Classic on Aug. 10 at Oakhaven.
Tennis team has depth, experience
The roster for the girls tennis team includes six returning letterwinners and is comprised mostly of seniors.
Delaware, which finished 6-11 overall and placed fifth in the OCC-Capital last season, opened Aug. 13 with a 5-0 win over Caledonia River Valley.
"Our strengths are our experience and our depth," coach Bob Claymier said. "We have eight players with varsity experience back. We also have very good team chemistry and a great work ethic.
"To have success, we need to be consistent and aggressive. We will need a team effort to compete in our matches."
Senior Claire Brennan and Blair Ramsey have returned and are expected to lead the Pacers, playing first and second singles, respectively.
Ramsey fell one win shy of advancing to the Division I district tournament last year in singles, as she lost in a qualifying match in the sectional at Hilliard Davidson after winning her first two matches.
The Pacers did not have any district qualifiers a year ago.
Also back are seniors Caroline Proffitt and Lexus Wolf at first doubles and seniors Amy Co and Elizabeth Russell at second doubles.
Senior Darcy Flanagan is playing third singles and seniors Nataly Koeritzer, Ivana Mostafi, Tori Newman and Kiersten Ulane, junior Noel Beyer-Hermsen and sophomore Ana Adams are vying for playing time at doubles.
Delaware opens OCC-Capital play Tuesday, Aug. 20, at home against Kilbourne, which moved into the league after being in the OCC-Cardinal last season. Watkins Memorial left the OCC-Capital to join the Licking County League.
Unlike in past years when the OCC-Capital championship was decided by the combined number of points each team scored in league dual matches and the league tournament, the title will be determined solely by dual records this year.
The champions of the four OCC divisions will compete in a tournament for the overall OCC team title, with the second-place teams in each league, the third-place teams, etc., competing in separate tournaments.
"Our goals are always simple," Claymier said. "We want to work hard every time, support fellow teammates, play to win and to have fun."