Although Columbus Academy's boys golfers Ryan Ahmed, Ben Nicola and R.J. Winters have played on varsity since they were freshmen, they still viewed those seasons as "paying their dues."

Although Columbus Academy's boys golfers Ryan Ahmed, Ben Nicola and R.J. Winters have played on varsity since they were freshmen, they still viewed those seasons as "paying their dues."

Now seniors, they were determined to lead by example.

"You have to be comfortable with your surroundings and how you carry yourself on a golf course," Nicola said. "That's important. We need to show leadership and help out the younger kids."

The trio helped lead the Vikings to a victory in the MSL-Ohio postseason tournament Sept. 22 at Cumberland Trail. Academy finished first with a 303 ahead of Granville at 304.

"We were really confident," Nicola said. "We were coming off a couple of great victories and we finally told ourselves we're capable of winning. It turned out we played excellent. We all put together good rounds and kept our heads in the game. That led to good scores."

Individually, Morgan Ransom led Academy with a 74 to finish third while Nicola and Winters both carded 75s, Ahmed had a 79 and Eric Eschliman had an 80.

For the second consecutive season, Ransom was not part of the Vikings' team lineup when they competed last Tuesday in the Division III sectional tournament at Pine Hill. Instead, she competed as an individual in the girls Division II sectional tournament last Wednesday at Mill Creek.

"She was definitely more consistent this year than she was last year," Academy coach Steve Evans said. "A couple of the courses we've played recently have been shorter-length courses, so she took full advantage as it fit her game well."

Without Ransom, Evans is expecting his team to lean on its three seniors throughout the postseason.

"They've understood the responsibility of how we had to rely on our top four players," Evans said. "In years past, we've had other players that were close to the top. This season, it's been primarily those four who've shouldered the load and they've been very good at handling the pressure that comes with being counted on every day."

Having that responsibility has not gone to the heads of Nicola and his two classmates.

"We still have got to keep practicing and keep our heads about us," he said. "We just proved ourselves at the conference tournament. There is no reason we can't continue to do well and push on during the sectional and district. But we've got to keep our heads level and keep playing to our capabilities."

•The football team has emerged from the first half of its season in good standing. Academy is 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the MSL-Ohio following a 49-6 win over Lakewood last Friday.

The Vikings are atop the conference standings with Licking Valley. Academy won't play the Panthers until Oct. 23 at home.

Yet the road to the showdown with the perennial conference champs is not easy as the Vikings play host to Newark Catholic on Friday, travel to Heath on Oct. 9 and travel to Bexley on Oct. 16.

Last Friday, Newark Catholic fell to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference by losing to Heath 28-27. The Green Wave trailed Heath by 14 points in the fourth quarter and scored two touchdowns to pull within one point. Newark Catholic opted for a two-point conversion try, but it failed.

On Sept. 17, Academy was on the favorable end of attempting a two-point conversion when trailing by one point. The Vikings converted and beat Granville 36-35.

"When you have a big win like that, hopefully it gets the kids excited about the season and your prospects of finishing high in the league," Academy coach Mark Barren said. "It's still way down the road and we don't want to start talking playoffs because so much has to happen. But they believe they can be good."

Academy's win against Granville has placed the Vikings in a positive mindset entering the second half of their schedule.

"Regardless of the level, there are always teams that start off well and success breeds success," Barren said. "All of a sudden you end up having a great season. I see the reverse of that also on all levels.

"With high school kids, they haven't been through as many games as a college or professional, so it's crucial to get off to a good start so the kids believe in themselves and that they have got a shot to have a good season."

At a glance

Below are recent results and coming schedule for the Academy boys golf, boys soccer, boys and girls cross country, girls field hockey, football, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 22 -- Finished first (303) in MSL-Ohio postseason tournament at Cumberland Trail ahead of Granville (304), Bexley (327), Newark Catholic (335), Lakewood (336), Heath (340), Licking Valley (352) and Whitehall (383). Morgan Ransom finished third with a 74.

Last Tuesday -- Competed in Division III sectional at Pinehill

Today -- At Granville Golf Club vs. Granville and Wellington

Saturday -- Watterson Invitational at Clover Valley

Tuesday -- District at Cumberland Trail

BOYS SOCCER

*Sept. 24 -- Lost to Whitehall 2-0

Last Saturday -- Tied Worthington Christian at 1

*Today -- At Granville

Tuesday -- Home vs. Jonathan Alder

Of note: The Vikings are 4-2-4 overall and 1-1 in the MSL-Ohio.

CROSS COUNTRY

Sept. 22 -- Boys: Defeated Worthington Christian 18-41. Jon Michael Hilsheimer finished first (18:26).

FIELD HOCKEY

Sept. 21 -- Lost to Upper Arlington 2-0

Sept. 23 -- Def. Olentangy Liberty 6-0

Last Saturday -- Lost to Kettering Fairmont 2-0; Def. Dayton Oakwood 4-0

Last Wednesday -- Played Thomas Worthington

Tuesday -- Home vs. Granville

Of note: The Vikings were 5-2-1 before last Wednesday.

FOOTBALL

*Last Friday -- Def. Lakewood 49-6

*Friday -- Home vs. Newark Catholic. Last season, Newark Catholic won 23-7.

Of note: The Vikings are 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the MSL-Ohio.

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 22 -- Lost to Jonathan Alder 3-2

*Sept. 24 -- Def. Heath 7-0

Last Saturday -- Def. Tree of Life 5-0

Last Tuesday -- Played Whetstone

*Today -- Home vs. Granville

*Tuesday -- Home vs. West Jefferson

Of note: The Vikings were 7-3 overall before last Tuesday and are 3-2 in the MSL-Cardinal/Ohio.

GIRLS TENNIS

Sept. 23 -- Lost to Upper Arlington 3-2

*Sept. 24 -- Match vs. Fisher Catholic postponed because of bad weather. No makeup date has been announced.

Last Friday -- Lost to DeSales 3-2

*Last Tuesday -- Played Whitehall

Last Wednesday -- Played Dublin Jerome

Saturday -- At home MSL-Ohio tournament

Of note: The Vikings were 12-4 overall and 1-0 in MSL-Cardinal/Ohio before last Tuesday.

VOLLEYBALL

*Sept. 24 -- Lost to Lakewood 25-21, 25-19, 25-9

Last Saturday -- Lost to Gilead Christian 25-9, 25-7, 25-16

*Last Tuesday -- Played Newark Catholic

*Today -- Home vs. Heath

*Saturday -- Home vs. Licking Valley

Monday -- Home vs. Grove City Christian

*Tuesday -- At Whitehall

Of note: The Vikings were 1-10 overall and were 1-6 in the MSL-Ohio before last Tuesday.

*MSL-Ohio or MSL-Cardinal/Ohio contest