The Licking Heights High School boys golf team showed progress last year and is looking to build on that this season.
The Hornets return three golfers from last year's squad, which finished 11th in a 13-team Division I sectional at Granville Golf Course and was ninth in the LCL.
Senior Kenneth Abarra and juniors Troy Hickman and Nick Krantz are back after being in the postseason lineup. In addition, senior Clyde Neiswander, who lettered as a sophomore but did not compete last season, has returned.
"I would like to see the returning letterwinners step up this year and I have set a challenge for them to decrease their stroke average by three strokes," second-year coach Tyler Hennen said. "I would consider this season successful if we are competitive in our matches and maybe squeak out a couple wins in the duals."
Hickman was honorable mention all-league last year, when he averaged 47.8 in league play as the Hornets went 3-24. Johnstown won the league title at 26-1.
John Kenney, a 2014 graduate, was second-team all-league with a 42.3 average. Licking Heights also lost Austin Pond to graduation and junior Justin Wand did not return to the team.
Senior Nick Campbell is new to the team, playing competitive golf for the first time.
At sectional, Licking Heights shot a season-best 18-hole score with a 383, nine shots better than its previous best. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district. Dublin Jerome (300) won and was joined at district by St. Charles (301) and Upper Arlington (304).
Hickman led the Hornets with an 87, followed by Kenney (96), Wand (97), Pond (103) and Abarra (107).
"I think Hickman and Neiswander have the ability to be all-league by the end of the season," Hennen said. "Hickman is not a long hitter, but he keeps it in the fairways. Neiswander can hit it far but can spray his drives occasionally.
"Krantz understands his abilities and does not try to hit shots that aren't in his bag. Campbell has good length but is still learning the game, and Abarra has great ball flight and is a good putter but needs to stay away from occasional big numbers on a hole."
In the opener Aug. 6 at The Links at Echo Springs, the Hornets shot a 422 to finish eighth behind champion Newark Catholic (320) in the eight-team Utica Invitational. Abarra (101), Neiswander (106), Hickman (107) and Krantz (108) were the scorers.
In the Bulldog Shootout on Aug. 8 at Burning Tree, Licking Heights finished 13th (381) in a 15-team field as Johnstown (312) won. Scoring were Neis-wander (88), Hickman (90), Krantz (101) and Abarra (102).
The Hornets finished last (454) in the LCL preseason tournament Aug. 13 at The Links at Echo Springs. Johnstown won (313) on a tiebreaker over Granville (313), with Watkins Memorial (332), Newark Catholic (347), Heath (352), Utica (354), Northridge (358), Licking Valley (369), Lakewood (383) and the Hornets following.
Hickman had the best score for Licking Heights (100).
Aug. 6 -- Utica Invitational at The Links at Echo Springs
Aug. 8 -- Bulldog Shootout at Burning Tree
Aug. 11 -- Newark Catholic Invitational at Moundbuilders
Aug. 13 -- LCL preseason tournament at The Links at Echo Springs
*Aug. 19 -- Utica at The Links at Echo Springs
*Aug. 20 -- Granville at TBA
*Aug. 26 -- Lakewood at Harbor Hills
*Aug. 27 -- Heath at Blacklick Woods
*Sept. 2 -- Newark Catholic at Moundbuilders
*Sept. 4 -- Watkins Memorial at Blacklick Woods
*Sept. 9 -- Licking Valley at Blacklick Woods
*Sept. 11 -- Johnstown at Clover Valley
Sept. 13 -- Harold Miller Invitational at Pine Hill
*Sept. 16 -- Northridge at Clover Valley
Sept. 17 -- LCL postseason tournament at Longaberger
Sept. 24 -- Watkins Fall Invitational at Winding Hollow