Senior Cassidy Dyer expected the Westland High School girls tennis team to improve on last season's 2-11 record given that it didn't lose any players from the past two years to graduation.
The Cougars have met her expectations, as they were 4-11 before competing in the OCC tournament Sept. 21. They conclude the regular season this week with home matches Wednesday, Sept. 25, against Watkins Memorial and Thursday, Sept. 26, against Eastmoor Academy.
"We've definitely improved a lot, especially not having seniors for the past two years and now almost all of our varsity is seniors," Dyer said. "It's really shaping up. We've faced a lot of tough teams and it's really helped us become better players."
Westland finished 1-6 in the OCC-Central Division, defeating Central Crossing 4-1 on Sept. 5, to place seventh behind champion Upper Arlington (7-0).
Winning against the Comets were senior Jenna Neff at first singles (6-3, 6-1), Dyer at second singles (6-3, 6-0), seniors Sierra Trimmer and Mackenzie Smith at first doubles (6-1, 6-2) and juniors Madison Qualls and Ami Perez at second doubles (6-0, 6-2).
Neff and Dyer have split time at first singles this season.
The Cougars' other wins have come against Jonathan Alder (3-2 on Sept. 11), Westerville North (4-1 on Sept. 4) and Teays Valley (5-0 on Aug. 19).
"I was excited for the team to win because they work so hard and deserve to feel proud of themselves," coach Shaela Hinckley said. "Every girl has worked for several months and has improved immensely."
Westland lost to Hamilton Township 3-2 on Sept. 18 at home. Winning were freshman Mia Botkins at third singles (6-1, 6-3) and Trimmer and freshman Emily Gantt at second doubles (6-3, 6-1).
Football team getting ready for Cardinals
The football team will play its first OCC-Central home game of the season Friday, Sept. 27, against Thomas Worthington.
The Cougars were 1-2 before opening league play Sept. 20 at Marysville. Thomas, which finished 2-8 overall and 2-5 in the OCC-Central last year, was 2-1 before playing Upper Arlington on Sept. 20.
Westland lost to Thomas 50-19 last season and trails in the all-times series 27-8. Its last win came in 2003, 7-3.
The Cougars earned their first win of the season Sept. 13 by defeating Columbus East 28-12.
Sophomore quarterback D'Kahri Scott rushed for 115 yards and senior fullback Nick Green ran for 103. Junior wide receiver Reggie Gilliam caught three passes for 97 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
"It's always a thrill when you get a win," coach Steve White said. "We haven't had as much success as we would have liked the last few years, so any win is a good win for us. I'll take more of them and we need to get an OCC win."
Thomas defeated Eastmoor Academy 35-12 on Sept. 13, as running back Tony Harvard rushed for 119 yards and three touchdowns.
"They have a good running back," White said of Harvard, who rushed for 1,172 yards and nine touchdowns on 216 carries last year, earning second-team all-league and Division I special mention all-district honors. "He's having a good year. Like everybody else, we want to compete in the league and win the league."
Through three games, Scott had completed 27 of 56 passes for 366 yards with a touchdown and five interceptions and had rushed for 239 yards and three touchdowns on 43 carries.
Gilliam had eight receptions for 204 yards and a touchdown, and Green had 124 yards rushing and a touchdown on 26 carries.
Golf team places eighth in league
The boys golf team placed eighth in the four-round OCC-Central tournament.
Westland went 0-28 in league play to finish behind Dublin Coffman (28-0), Upper Arlington (23-5), Olentangy Liberty (19-9), Marysville (15-13), Hilliard Davidson (13-15), Thomas Worthington (10-18) and Central Crossing (4-24).
The Cougars concluded league play Sept. 16 by shooting a 396 at Turnberry to finish eighth behind Coffman (302), UA (304), Davidson (322), Marysville (325), Liberty (325), Thomas (329) and Central Crossing (361).
Gage Church led the Cougars in the final round with an 87, followed by Steven Lewis with a 90.
"For the final OCC (round), I set individual goals and a team goal," coach Brad Kramer said. "Gage Church and Curtis Dyer (108) met their individual goal and Steven Lewis and Drew Barrow (111) missed their goal by only one and two strokes (respectively). We met our team goal of 399 by three strokes, so overall (it was) a good day. I see a lot of improvement with this team and they are having a lot of fun. This is the first time in three years (that) we shot under 400 in an OCC event."
Girls volleyball team ends five-match skid
The girls volleyball team snapped a five-match losing streak by beating Upper Arlington 25-21, 25-20, 25-19 on Sept. 12 in an OCC-Central contest.
Westland then defeated Central Crossing 25-19, 25-11, 29-27 on Sept. 17 in a league match and was 5-8 overall and 3-4 in the OCC-Central before playing Marysville on Sept. 19.
"The girls have really started playing up to their ability lately," coach Eric Hughes said. "They are coming together as a team and have taken responsibility for their own positions. The swing began with strong defense anchored by our senior captain libero Maria Turner during (a 25-15, 25-14, 25-13 loss to Coffman on Sept. 10)."
Cross country teams win home meet
The cross country teams won their home meet, the Shin Splint Invitational, on Sept. 14.
The boys team totaled 21 points to finish ahead of Central Crossing (46) and Grove City Christian (66).
Seth Farmer led the Cougars, finishing first in 16 minutes, 19.5 seconds. Siyat Mohamed placed third (17:44.15), followed by Bryce Long (fourth, 17:58.32) and Andrew Choate (seventh, 19:14.8).
The girls team (17) beat Central Crossing (42) in the event.
Donna Mayhew placed third (21:23.06) to lead the Cougars. Heidi Paxson finished fourth (21:41.4), followed by Elizabeth Finley (fifth, 22:33.2) and Hannah Festog (eighth, 23:21.51).
"I was very proud of my team(s) and of what Westland cross country is becoming," coach Josh Barkeloo said. "Seth Farmer led the charge for the boys team, capturing the individual title and establishing the course record. Donna Mayhew sparked a great performance by our girls team with her third-place finish in a personal-record time. Every member of our team ran either a personal record or season best that day."
In the Arrowhead Invitational held Sept. 18 at Whetstone, the boys team finished sixth (172) behind champion Bexley (70) as 17 teams scored and the girls team was seventh (161) behind champion Bexley (42) as 16 teams scored.