A strong start has helped build confidence for the Olentangy High School boys golf team.
The Braves won the season-opening Cardinal Invitational on Aug. 6 at York, shooting a 323 to edge host Thomas Worthington by one stroke.
A day later at Apple Valley, Olentangy finished second (309) in the first OCC-Capital Division tournament, behind New Albany (289) and ahead of Mount Vernon (311), Orange (331), Big Walnut (339), Delaware (341) and Worthington Kilbourne (348).
"We won our season opener ... and we felt like we didn't play our best," said coach Joel Glassburn, who is in his 10th season. "Our scores were a little higher than we wanted, but we won and that's a great start to our season."
Senior Dylan Ahonen and junior Jeff Darfus both shot 79 at York to lead the Braves, followed by seniors Carter Rubcich (80), Evan Wilson (86) and Donal Baker (86).
In the first OCC-Capital tournament, Ahonen shot a 73 to tie Mount Vernon's Robert Williams for third behind New Albany's Avery Schneider (68) and Jackson Moss (70).
Wilson had a 77, followed by Darfus (79), Baker (80) and Rubcich (82).
"Our strength is our experience," Glassburn said. "All five golfers have played varsity in the past and have tournament experience. They are also very relaxed and don't let their emotions get in the way."
The Braves won the second OCC-Capital tournament Aug. 12 at Darby Creek with a 304, edging New Albany (305). Olentangy is tied for first with New Albany at 10-1 entering the third league tournament Aug. 28 at Turnberry.
The Braves finished seventh (334) in the 12-team Westerville Central Invitational on Aug. 8 at Little Turtle behind champion St. Charles (311).
"We can shoot the occasional big number," Glassburn said. "During tryouts we saw some big numbers on the card, which hurt our scores. If we can eliminate those big holes, then we will improve drastically."
Also working for varsity time are sophomores Jake Gerard, Nick Scott and Ryan Wright and freshman Matthew Homza.
Last season, the Braves tied Mount Vernon for second (20-8) in the OCC-Capital behind New Albany (28-0).
In the 12-team Division I sectional at The Players Club at Foxfire, Olentangy (323) was the fourth and final district qualifier behind New Albany (298), Dublin Jerome (305) and Teays Valley (313). Returning sectional performers are Ahonen (73) Darfus (86), Wilson (86) and Baker (92).
In the district tournament at Apple Valley, the Braves were 12th (346) of 15 teams behind state-qualifiers New Albany (298), Dublin Coffman (300) and Jerome (306). Ahonen shot 75, followed by Wilson (90), Darfus (93) and Baker (95).
Patriots looking for low numbers
Liberty returns one player with postseason experience from last year's team, which finished sixth (323) in the Division I district tournament.
Sophomore Cameron McCloskey shot an 80 at district and carded a team-best 74 in the sectional at Darby Creek as the Patriots were runners-up (312) behind Coffman (303).
McCloskey tied Thomas' Curtis Salmans for second (74) in the first OCC-Central tournament Aug. 7 at Granville Golf Course behind Coffman's Nick Sparling (64).
Junior Tommy Marks and freshman Tommy Mitchell both had 81, followed by senior Brett Beard (86) and senior Drew Cooper (92).
Liberty placed third (322) behind Coffman (296) and Upper Arlington (310) and ahead of Marysville (331), Thomas (332), Hilliard Davidson (336), Central Crossing (348) and Westland (467).
In the second OCC-Central tournament Aug. 12 at Apple Valley, the Patriots and UA both carded 310, but the Golden Bears had a better fifth-player score to take second behind Coffman (294).
"I think we have a tight-knit group in terms of score distribution," said coach Ryan Snivley, who is in his 10th season. "We don't have that consistent go-low person, but hopefully we'll have someone emerge in that role. Everyone is really close together and we should shoot consistently around 320."
Mitchell led the Patriots with an 80 in the season-opening Mount Vernon Invitational on Aug. 6 at Mount Vernon Country Club. Marks had an 81, followed by McCloskey (82), Beard (84) and junior Doug Simpson (86).
Liberty tied Westerville Central for 10th (327) of 18 teams at Mount Vernon behind champion Pickerington North (300).
Senior Clay Johnson also is in the varsity mix.
"We have started well, but we need to have four guys who can consistently go into the 70s," Snivley said. "That will help us to be able to finish in the top three of our tough league."
Last season, the Patriots finished third (21-7) in the OCC-Central behind UA (27-1) and Coffman (24-4).
Pioneers return five letterwinners
Ray Albertini is the lone senior for an Orange team with five returning letterwinners. The others are juniors Hunter Baxter, Luke Buchy, Ben Kunz and Ric Reynolds.
In the season-opening North Union Invitational on Aug. 6 at Darby Creek, the Pioneers were second (315) in the 12-team big-school division behind Caledonia River Valley (307). Kunz (75) posted the third-best score behind River Valley's Caden Orewiler (69) and Danville's Brayden Baldridge (73).
Baxter had an 81 and was followed by Reynolds (83), Albertini (92) and Buchy (98).
In the first OCC-Capital tournament Aug. 7, Orange finished fourth (331) as Reynolds (75) was fifth overall. Buchy shot a 79, followed by Albertini (88), Baxter (89) and Kunz (90).
Orange placed fourth (324) in the second league event.
"I think the guys in our first five spots have a lot of experience and they are consistent," said coach Mark Corica, who is in his sixth season. "We don't have anyone who will go really low, but we're steady. We could throw out four or five scores around 80, but probably not have a lot of 72s."
Also in the varsity mix are junior Ryan Welsh, sophomore Palmer Gifford and freshman Spencer Gifford.
"This will be the second year that we have run three teams, so we'll have a lot of kids playing daily," Corica said. "We only have one senior, so we should be gaining a lot of experience for the younger kids."
Last season, Orange finished fourth (18-10) in the OCC-Capital.
In the Division I sectional at Granville Golf Course, Orange was eighth (345) of 13 teams behind district-qualifiers Pickerington North (294), UA (295), St. Charles (313) and Mount Vernon (316). Reynolds shot an 85, with Buchy adding an 88 and Albertini a 94.