With most of their lineup having returned, Gahanna Lincoln High School boys golf co-coaches Judy Ratzenberger and Lori Scott put a premium on mental preparation during the offseason.
That should come in handy this fall and for years to come considering five of the Lions' top seven players are underclassmen.
"We want our players to continue to show improvement, especially in the mental aspect of the game," Ratzenberger said. "If we can improve our mental dialogue so that it is centered on positive self-talk, we know our golfers will improve their game. This year, we feel that this group is ready to attack the core of the game, which is building mental strength. We are working hard on course management as well as mental management of the self and of the game."
The Lions shot a 329 in the first round of the OCC-Ohio Division tournament Aug. 7 at Darby Creek to place third behind Pickerington North (295) and Grove City (318) and ahead of Lancaster (339), Pickerington Central (347), Reynoldsburg (351) and Newark (446).
Gahanna finished third (325) in the second round of the league tournament Aug. 12 at Turnberry behind North (292) and Grove City (320).
Last season, the Lions finished third in the league at 17-7 behind North (24-0) and Lancaster (18-6).
Sophomore Alex Vegh emerged as the team's No. 1 player last season, shooting a 74 in the Division I sectional at Granville Golf Course to advance to district. He then shot an 85 at district at Apple Valley to miss qualifying for state by 10 strokes.
Senior Lucas Pottorf and junior Ryan Beachy, who are serving as captains, and senior Aaron Byas also return for Gahanna, which placed fifth (325) in the 13-team sectional behind champion North (294).
Also looking to contribute are junior Matt Regner, sophomore Kyle Pottorf and freshman Ethan Nix.
According to Ratzenberger, several of the players competed in tournaments and participated in short-game clinics during the offseason.
"It (was) a great offseason and very productive for the team," Ratzenberger said. "They are all hard workers, coachable and are showing a dedication to take Gahanna Lincoln golf to the next level."
Hughes expected to lead girls golf team
The girls golf team doesn't have any seniors in its lineup, but it does have a veteran to lean on in junior Emily Hughes.
Hughes, who shot a 71 during one of the rounds of Gahanna's tryouts this season, helped the Lions make the Division I state tournament as a freshman.
Last season, she shot a 79 in the sectional at Mentel Memorial to advance individually to the district at Cooks Creek, where she shot a 79 to fall five strokes short of qualifying for state.
"We have a small squad, but the potential is there," coach Patty McQuirt said. "They know we still lack some experience, especially with our (junior varsity) girls."
Gahanna opened Aug. 6, placing last (431) of 12 teams in the Lady Rocks Invitational at Little Turtle behind champion and host Dublin Coffman (309).
The Lions then shot a 387 in the first round of the OCC-Ohio tournament Aug. 7 at Westchester to place fifth behind Pickerington North (334), Canal Winchester (366), Thomas Worthington (375) and Upper Arlington (375) and ahead of Hilliard Davidson (403) and Lancaster (512). Last season, they finished fifth in the league at 12-16 behind champion North (28-0).
On Aug. 12 in the 17-team Gahanna Invitational at Jefferson, the Lions finished 13th (393) behind champion Dublin Jerome (290). Hughes broke her own program record by shooting a 66, which also is the new course record at Jefferson.
Also back after helping the Lions place fourth (374) in the nine-team sectional last year at Mentel Memorial behind champion Coffman (309) is sophomore Alyson Johnson.
Junior Alexis Rhodes and sophomores Sammie Jander and Kelly Roberson have moved up after competing on the j.v. team a year ago. Sophomore Catie Rogers, who has been out with an injury, also could contribute this season.
"After what (I have seen so far), I really think our focus needs to be on our short game," McQuirt said. "We need to do a better job of managing our chip shots."