Three days before his team's first tournament of the season, Pickerington High School Central boys golf coach Chris Cores said he thought his players were capable of competing at "a high level."

Three days before his team's first tournament of the season, Pickerington High School Central boys golf coach Chris Cores said he thought his players were capable of competing at "a high level."

"We're not quite there yet," said Cores, who is in his 10th season. "The guys are showing signs of competing at a high level, but they're not consistent for 18 holes."

No matter where Central is this early in the season, the Tigers already have reached a plateau not seen since the school district split in 2003. In the season's first OCC-Ohio Division tournament Aug. 7 at Darby Creek, junior Daniel Dembski's round of 78 led Central to a team score of 317 and first place by four shots ahead of runner-up Reynoldsburg.

Senior Nate Meek shot 79, followed by seniors Matt Katona (80) and Andrew Sikorski (80) and junior Spencer Foit (92).

Pickerington North was third (329), followed by Grove City (331), Gahanna (335), Lancaster (368), Newark (407) and Groveport (509).

North has won the past eight OCC-Ohio championships and hadn't lost a league match since 2008.

The Panthers bounced back in the second round of league play Aug. 11 at Apple Valley, shooting 319 to finish first ahead of Reynoldsburg (330), Gahanna (334), Central (339), Grove City (348), Newark (399), Lancaster (405) and Groveport (503).

North and Reynoldsburg are tied for the league lead at 12-2, ahead of Central (11-3), Gahanna (8-6), Grove City (7-7), Lancaster (3-11), Newark (3-11) and Groveport (0-14).

The third round is Aug. 27 at Clover Valley.

"I tried to stress urgency during tryouts," Cores said. "There's no time to settle in. You have to get a lot of work in before the season starts. There's no gradually getting into game shape."

The Tigers' six returning letterwinners are junior Will Culver, Dembski, Foit, Katona, Meek and Sikorski.

Dembski, who averaged 90.9 per 18 holes last year, averaged 84 during tryouts and, according to Cores, has as good a chance as anyone to replace 2014 graduate Rodney Howell as the Tigers' top player.

"He put more into his game this offseason than anybody," Cores said of Dembski. "He looks like he's in control of what's going on. The biggest thing for him is consistency and confidence on the course, and an ability to stay away from trouble."

Howell was the Tigers' Most Valuable Player each of the past two years and last year became Central's first Division I district qualifier since Shane Eltzroth in 2011. Howell shot 74 at sectional, tying Westerville North's Ryan Pannell for third, and shot 88 at district to fall short of state.

"The other guys (besides Dembski) are right around where they were last year," Cores said. "The big thing right now is the guys have to make life easier on themselves. They need to hit greens in regulation, and that's been a struggle to this point."

Panthers rebuildingwith new roster

Coming off its first Division I state tournament appearance, North has a different look this season under 12th-year coach Casey Milligan.

Seniors Adam Collins and Kyle Oravecz and juniors Cameron Bruce, Sam Defibaugh and Michael Diehl comprised the top five in the first two events of the season. Junior Nick Montes, the only returning member of the top five from last year, missed the first week of the season because he was participating in an out-of-state tournament.

Montes said last weekend that he planned to return earlier this week.

Bruce and Collins each shot 79 in the first OCC-Ohio tournament, followed by Diehl (82), Defibaugh (89) and Oravecz (94).

In the season-opening Westerville Central Invitational on Aug. 6 at Little Turtle, Collins led the Panthers with an 82, followed by Bruce (85), Diehl (89), Oravecz (93) and Defibaugh (95). North finished 13th (349) of 16 teams behind champion Dublin Jerome (299).

The Panthers placed second (646) at state last year, five shots behind Jerome, which won its third consecutive championship. North had been fourth after the first day of the two-day tournament.

Montes shot 154 at state to lead the Panthers, one shot ahead of 2014 graduate Scot Sapp, who now golfs for the University of Cincinnati.

Another graduated player, Alex Weiss, now golfs for Marshall.

North won a sectional tournament at Turnberry (299) and finished second (305) at district behind Jerome (299) and ahead of New Albany (308).


Aug. 7 -- OCC-Ohio at Darby Creek

Aug. 8 -- Mount Vernon Invitational at Chapel Hill

Aug. 11 -- OCC-Ohio at Apple Valley

Aug. 12 -- Pickerington Central Invitational at Turnberry

Aug. 14 -- Frankfort Adena at Pine Hill

Aug. 20 -- Thomas Worthington at Turnberry

Aug. 23 -- Kent Miller Colonial Fall Classic at Hiawatha

Aug. 27 -- OCC-Ohio at Clover Valley

Aug. 30 -- Fairfield Federal Shootout at Pine Hill

Sept. 4 -- DeSales at Champions

Sept. 6 -- Hilliard Invitational at Heritage

Sept. 10 -- OCC-Ohio at Turnberry

Sept. 13 -- Grove City Invitational at Hickory Hills

Sept. 17 -- Hilliard Bradley at Heritage

Sept. 18 -- Hilliard Bradley at Turnberry

Sept. 22 -- Lancaster at Lancaster Country Club

Sept. 25 -- Reynoldsburg at Blacklick Woods

Sept. 27 -- Pickerington Central Fall Invitational at Turnberry


Aug. 6 -- Westerville Central Invitational at Little Turtle

Aug. 7 -- OCC-Ohio at Darby Creek

Aug. 11 -- OCC-Ohio at Apple Valley

Aug. 12 -- Dublin Invitational at Golf Club of Dublin

Aug. 14 -- Fairfield Federal Invitational at Turnberry

Aug. 18 -- Academy Invitational at Columbus Country Club

Aug. 27 -- OCC-Ohio at Clover Valley

Aug. 30 -- Pinnacle Classic at Pinnacle

Sept. 5 -- Lancaster Invitational at Lancaster Country Club

Sept. 6 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside

Sept. 10 -- OCC-Ohio at Turnberry

Sept. 13 -- Upper Arlington Invitational at Scioto Country Club

Sept. 17 -- Columbus Academy at TBA

Sept. 22 -- OCC Shootout at Moundbuilders

Sept. 27 -- Howlett Invitational at Worthington Hills

Oct. 4 -- Dublin Jerome Honorary Invitational at Riviera