Westland High School boys golf coach Brad Kramer realizes that it will be difficult for his team to compete in the OCC-Central Division this season, but he is hoping his players gain valuable experience and enjoy the sport.
The Cougars are 0-14 in the OCC-Central heading into the third round of the league tournament Aug. 28 at Darby Creek. The final round will be played Sept. 11 at Turnberry.
"(The players) haven't put a whole lot of (practice) time in besides the times we've gone out, so I've watched them progress slowly, not as fast as I would have liked them to, but they're out there having fun and representing Westland well," Kramer said.
Westland, which finished last (0-28) in the OCC-Central last year behind champion Upper Arlington (27-1), is led by seniors Gage Church and Steven Lewis. Both are in their fourth varsity season.
Lewis and Church carded an 88 and 92, respectively, in the Division I sectional at Darby Creek last year as the Cougars finished 13th (417) of 14 teams.
"Even though it's a very frustrating sport at times, they've come back every single year and they've been starters for all four years," Kramer said of Church and Lewis. "That tells you a lot."
Also back are juniors Drew Barrow and Curtis Dyer and sophomore Stephen Gorslene.
Rounding out the team are sophomore Hunter Horn and freshman Garrett Lawson.
Westland finished eighth in each of the first two rounds of the OCC-Central tournament.
Led by Lewis with a 97, the Cougars shot a 467 on Aug. 7 at Granville Golf Course to finish behind Dublin Coffman (296), Upper Arlington (310), Olentangy Liberty (322), Marysville (331), Thomas Worthington (332), Hilliard Davidson (336) and Central Crossing (348).
Westland then shot a 414 on Aug. 12 at Apple Valley, finishing behind Coffman (294), Liberty (310), UA (310), Davidson (321), Marysville (323), Thomas Worthington (330) and Central Crossing (344), as Lewis carded an 87 and Church shot a 97.
"Coffman by far is the team to beat," Kramer said. "They're a special team this year. They have a kid on their team (Ohio State recruit and defending Division I state champion Nick Sparling) who is just phenomenal. I've coached eight years and paid attention to golf for many more than that and I've never seen a golfer at this level, being that good. He is by far the best player in central Ohio."
Westland placed fifth (396) in the seven-team Delaware Fidelity Federal Invitational on Aug. 8 at Oakhaven, behind champion Delaware (319). Church had an 89 and Lewis carded a 94.
The Cougars shot a 410 in a tri-match against Central Crossing (327) and Delaware (342) on Aug. 13 at Oakhurst. Church shot an 89 and Lewis carded a 96.
"You can't play defense in golf and, at this point, we don't match up well as far as our ability compared to the other teams," Kramer said. "I'm going to the OCC events knowing that we're playing very difficult golf courses against very good golfers. What I teach them is to just learn as much about the game from some of the other players."
Girls tennis team looking to improve
Girls tennis coach Shaela Hinckley believes her team can improve on last season, when it finished 2-11 overall.
The Cougars, who did not have any seniors a year ago, opened Aug. 12 with a 5-0 loss to Olentangy and lost 5-0 to Hilliard Darby on Aug. 14.
"I feel this can be a great year for the team and I have a lot of faith in all of the players," Hinckley said. "I know how hard they have worked and I just hope that they get to see the rewards."
Among the returnees are seniors Cassidy Dyer and Karen Olguin, each of whom went 1-1 in singles in the Division I sectional last year at Hilliard Davidson. Dyer and Olguin played first and second singles, respectively, in the first two matches and freshman Mia Botkins played third singles.
Also back are seniors Jenna Neff, Mackenzie Smith and Sierra Trimmer and junior Madison Qualls.
Smith and Trimmer went 1-1 in doubles a year ago at sectional.
Rounding out the team are juniors Emily Gantt and Ami Perez.
"The strengths are the team's dedication, hard work and belief in themselves," Hinckley said. "I want to focus on their confidence and their strengths as individual players."