Year in and year out, the Pickerington High School North boys golf team is disappointed with anything less than a league championship.
The Panthers wrapped up their fourth consecutive undefeated league title and seventh in a row overall Sept. 19, shooting 300 to win the fourth OCC-Ohio Division tournament at Darby Creek.
This season, North has won 10 events, finished second in two and was third once -- because of a tiebreaker.
"I've been very pleased with our consistency," coach Casey Milligan said. "We haven't played our best every day, but we've found a way most days. I think that speaks to the quality of kids who play for me."
North finished 24-0 in the league, and 32 shots ahead of runner-up Lancaster on Sept. 19. Lancaster finished second overall at 18-6, followed by Gahanna (17-7), Grove City (12-12), Reynoldsburg (9-15) and Newark and Pickerington Central (2-22 each).
While senior Garrett Brickley and juniors Scot Sapp and Alex Weiss have led the team all season, freshman Nick Mauss and junior Zach Goodchild worked their way into the lineup. Weiss is averaging 72.5 per 18 holes, followed by Sapp (73), Mauss (73.5), Brickley (74.5) and Goodchild (77).
"Nick just stepped in and took his spot," Milligan said. "He's led us a few times this year. He's a bit more traveled than your average freshman. He wasn't a real surprise, but he's certainly helped us to the next level. He and Zach have helped us become very solid."
Weiss shot the team's low round of the season, 67 on Aug. 22 in the Dublin Invitational at the Golf Club of Dublin. The Panthers won that event with a 277, the lowest score Milligan could remember any team of his shooting in almost 30 years of coaching.
Now it's on to the next step. The Panthers earned the No. 1 seed for the Division I postseason, which begins with a sectional tournament Tuesday, Oct. 2, at Granville Golf Course. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the district tournament Oct. 9 at Apple Valley.
The Panthers finished eighth at district a year ago, five places shy of a state berth, and haven't advanced to state in their 10-year history. This year, Milligan hopes the team's overall average of 293 is enough.
"That's four or five shots above par most of the time," he said. "That usually will get the job done. I think it's a good testimonial to how well we've played."
Central preparing for sectional tourney
Riding the fortunes of one senior, one junior and three sophomores, Central coach Chris Cores hopes the Tigers will muster consistency in time for their Tuesday, Oct. 2, sectional at Darby Creek.
"We've had our hands full all year with three sophomores who have been introduced to a lot of different courses," Cores said after Central shot 367 and placed seventh in the final OCC-Ohio tournament, five shots behind sixth-place Newark. "I had hoped it wouldn't be a problem this late in the season. It's been a baptism by fire. We knew it would be part of the process. This is Division I Central District golf, which as far as I'm concerned is the best in the state."
Senior Park Lukich and junior Rodney Howell have been at the top of the lineup all season, but Cores said sophomore Nate Meek has provided a pleasant boost. Averaging 90.25 for the year, he shot 89 on Sept. 19 at Darby Creek as the Tigers wrapped up a 2-22 league season.
The rest of the varsity lineup consists of sophomores Matt Katona and Andrew Sikorski and freshman Daniel Dembski.
Howell carded the team's two best rounds of the year, shooting 77 during the Kent Miller Colonial Fall Classic on Aug. 25 at Hiawatha and again Sept. 1 in the Pine Hill Invitational at Pine Hill.
Howell led the team with an 84.25 average per 18 holes after league play, followed by Meek (86), Lukich (92), Sikorski (93.4), Katona (93.5) and Dembski (96).