Ben Dumm and his teammates on the DeSales High School boys golf team are trying to treat this week like any other.
The Stallions will compete Friday, Oct. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 12, at NorthStar, but the event is no ordinary competition.
Having finished second in the Division II district tournament Sept. 30 at River Greens, DeSales is back at state for the first time since 2010.
"There's a lot of familiarity because we've played the course, but still, we're excited that it's the state (tournament)," said Dumm, a senior and member of NorthStar. "Right now, we're playing as well as I've seen us play all year."
Fueled by strong performances by No. 4 and 5 golfers, juniors Chris Modie and Jacob Erwin, DeSales shot a 321 at district to finish behind East Liverpool (313) and ahead of third-place Bloom-Carroll (324), which earned the final state-qualifying spot by winning the fifth-score tiebreaker with Bexley.
Senior Danny Helin shot a 76 to lead the Stallions, followed by Dumm (77), sophomore Kyle Ransom (81), Modie (87) and Erwin (88). Modie shot 37 and Erwin 40 on the front nine, but the Stallions still had to hold their collective breath for more than an hour after their round was finished before learning their fate.
"We weren't rejoicing until the fat lady was singing," coach Tom Eckl said. "Chris and Jacob were lights-out to start, and that ended up being huge. On the back nine, there was a little rain and some breeze picked up. The guys jelled together and pulled one out."
Around mid-September, Dumm and Eckl began to think the Stallions had a legitimate chance to advance to state. DeSales carded two consecutive rounds of a season-best 318 in the CCL postseason tournament Sept. 21 at Cooks Creek and in a sectional Sept. 21 at Granville Golf Course, with the Stallions finishing second in both events.
"I saw us buckling down and practicing well," Eckl said. "Then at the Watterson Invitational (on Sept. 28 at Clover Valley), we beat (Cincinnati) St. Xavier and (Cincinnati) Moeller and those are some big-time Division I programs. Ben was second overall that day with a 74. Those good practices have really translated onto the course."
The rest of the 12-team state field consists of Bellevue, Bloom-Carroll, Canton Central Catholic, Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin, defending state champion Dayton Oakwood, East Liverpool, Fairfield Union, Gates Mills Gilmour Academy, Lima Bath, Middletown Fenwick and Washington Court House.
Oakwood has won three of the past four state titles, finishing fourth in 2011 when Springfield Kenton Ridge won.
Dumm and Helin each contributed to the 2010 DeSales team that finished seventh (696) at state behind Oakwood. Helin carded the team's second-best score (169) that year to finish 14th overall and tied for 35th (179) at state as an individual in 2011.
"The (score) card says (NorthStar is 7,531) yards. There's a lot of sticker shock involved," Dumm said. "It's a long course and we have a lot of long hitters, so I hope that gives us an advantage."
Clark, Gray earn wins at tennis sectional
Junior Emma Clark and sophomore Taylor Gray of the girls tennis team each went 1-1 in the Division I sectional tournament at Pickerington Central on Oct. 3, but no Stallions advanced to district.
Clark defeated Logan's Ambir Myers 6-1, 6-4 before losing to Westerville Central's Nicole Cardwell 6-1, 6-1. Gray beat Gahanna's Claire Slater 6-1, 6-3 and lost to Dublin Coffman's Skylar Moore 6-1, 6-2.
Also at sectional, senior Maddie Lyons went 0-1 in singles, as did the doubles teams of juniors Bri Ellis and Catharine Kistner and senior Maura McCabe and junior Corrine McGoldrick.
"Two of my girls had to play (top) seeded girls and that's really tough," coach Anthony Tienprasid said, referring to Cardwell and Pickerington Central's Isis Thomas and Kyah Thomas, who defeated Ellis and Kistner 6-0, 6-0. "But overall, they did a great job, especially my singles players. This is the first sectional for a bunch of them. There are a lot of first-year players this year and they'll come back next year knowing what this is like and gaining from this experience."
The Stallions, who lose two seniors in Lyons and McCabe, finished 3-12 overall and went 2-2 in the CCL to place third, behind Watterson (4-0) and Columbus School for Girls (3-1) and ahead of Hartley (1-3) and Ready (0-4).
Girls golf season ends at sectional
A winning season for the girls golf team ended Oct. 1 with a ninth-place finish (410) in the 10-team Division I sectional tournament at Oakhaven.
Junior Gabby Marino shot a career-best 100 to lead the Stallions, followed by seniors Lisa Deakin (101) and Rachel Putnam (104), junior Kenzie Kotten (105) and sophomore Kaelin Kelly (123).
Defending state champion Dublin Jerome (299), Worthington Kilbourne (347) and Thomas Worthington (361) advanced to district Oct. 8 at The Links at Groveport. The top three individuals not on qualifying teams also advanced, with Olentangy's Kara Raines (87) securing the final berth.
"I thought we shot a pretty good round, but we were up against some quality competition," said coach Jeff Montenaro, whose team finished 42-38 overall and 29-12 in the Mid-Ohio Girls Golf League. "Gabby had her best score in the three years she's been playing golf, and so did Lisa. We had some of our best rounds late in the year. I'm happy with the way we played recently, but now we have to find some girls to bring in. Of the 15 girls in the program, nine of them are seniors."
Of DeSales' top five players this season, Kelly, Kotten and Marino are expected to return.
The Stallions placed second in the four-round MOGGL tournament, behind Watterson (41-0) and ahead of Centerburg (28-12), Granville (22-19), Watterson B (21-20), Columbus School for Girls (19-22), Watkins Memorial (19-22), Bexley (13-18), Wellington (11-30) and DeSales B (1-40).
Football team takes .500 record into bye
The football team was unable to build from the momentum of its 21-16 win over defending Division IV state champion Clarksville Clinton-Massie on Sept. 27, as it lost to St. Charles 36-0 in its CCL-Silver Division opener Oct. 4 to drop to 3-3 overall.
The loss snapped the Stallions' 36-game winning streak against the Cardinals.
DeSales' next game is Oct. 18 at home against Watterson in a CCL-Silver contest.
Through six games, senior running back Tucker Yinger has rushed 37 times for 330 yards and senior running back Sayyid Kanu has rushed for 134 yards.
Junior quarterback Brandon Krietemeyer threw two touchdowns through five games, but junior Josh DeLozier played under center against St. Charles, completing three of six passes for 50 yards with one interception.
St. Charles led the Stallions 15-0 at halftime and pulled away in the third quarter by scoring on a punt return and a fumble recovery.
DeSales was held to 132 total yards and managed just eight first downs. Sophomore Austin Andrews led the Stallions in rushing against the Cardinals with 46 yards on nine attempts and has 130 yards rushing on the season.