With the competition including two of the area's top programs in Dublin Coffman and Upper Arlington, Westland High School boys golf coach Brad Kramer realizes that it is difficult for his team to contend for the OCC-Central Division title.
Instead, Kramer focuses on improving his team, and thus far the 10th-year coach has seen signs of progress.
Westland opened Aug. 6, shooting a 401 to finish 11th in the 14-team Chuck Otte Memorial tournament at Oakhurst. The event was won by another league rival, Hilliard Davidson (304).
The Cougars then shot under 400 in two of their next three events, finishing fifth (387) in the six-team Fidelity Federal Invitational on Aug. 7 at Oakhaven behind champion Big Walnut (326) and finishing 17th (397) in the 18-team Pickerington Central Invitational on Aug. 12 at Turnberry behind champion Gahanna (318).
"Obviously, our goal is to get better and learn the game of golf," Kramer said.
Westland shot a 429 in the first round of the OCC-Central tournament Aug. 7 at Clover Valley to finish eighth, behind Olentangy Liberty (310), UA (315), Coffman (317), Davidson (323), Marysville (329), Central Crossing (341) and Thomas Worthington (347).
In the second round Aug. 11 at Turnberry, the Cougars finished eighth (426), behind UA (289), Coffman (303), Liberty (303), Central Crossing (321), Davidson (322), Marysville (327) and Thomas (333).
The third round is Aug. 27 at Darby Creek.
"The OCCs are always really hard," said Kramer, whose team finished eighth (0-28) in the four-round league last season, behind champion Coffman (28-0). "They always have the course set up very difficult and we've never done really great in the OCCs."
Westland has five returnees in seniors Drew Barrow and Curtis Dyer, juniors Stephen Gorslene and Hunter Horn and sophomore Garrett Lawson.
Freshman Tim Foreman rounds out the team.
Gorslene, who was the team's No. 3 golfer last season behind 2014 graduates Cage Church and Steven Lewis, and junior Brandon Festog, a newcomer to the program, are competing for the No. 1 spot.
Gorslene shot a career-best 86 in the Pickerington Central Invitational.
In the first round of league play, Festog led Westland with a 101, followed by Gorslene with a 106.
"Being a relatively new golfer, Brandon has shown some promise," Kramer said. "His swing is really nice. He has the mechanics to be pretty good by the end of the year."
According to Kramer, Barrow and Dyer are competing for the third spot.
Barrow shot a team-best 100 in the second round of the league tournament.
"We're hanging in there," Kramer said. "We're better than last year, which I thought wouldn't happen because I lost two seniors (Church and Lewis) that I had for four years, but the other guys have all stepped up."
Four players return for girls tennis team
The girls tennis team has returned four players with varsity experience in seniors Emily Gannt, Ami Perez and Madison Qualls and sophomore Mia Botkins.
Only two of those players, Perez and Qualls, competed in the Division I sectional tournament last season at Davidson. Perez and Qualls, who lost in the first round at sectional in doubles, began the season at first doubles.
Botkins and Gannt are expected to play first and second singles, respectively.
Westland, which opened Aug. 14 against Ready, lost six players from a year ago to graduation, including five who competed at sectional in Cassidy Dyer, Jenna Neff, Karen Olguin, Mackenzie Smith and Sierra Trimmer.
Dyer and Neff split time at first singles last season.
"We're working pretty good," sixth-year coach Shaela Hinckley said. "I lost a lot of my girls that I had for four years because they all became seniors and graduated."
Junior Paola Amador-Rudon, who played junior varsity last season, is expected to play third singles, and juniors Noemi Moreno and Ashley Reyes opened the season at second doubles.
Also on the team are senior Mina Ward and sophomore Yadira Nunez.
This summer, Westland's home courts were resurfaced.
"We have new nets, new courts, new everything," Hinckley said. "It's great for the program. We have brand new lines and (the players) can see what they're doing."
Last season, Westland finished 4-13 overall, placed seventh (8 points, 1-6) in the OCC-Central behind champion UA (39, 7-0) and finished third (10) in the seventh-place OCC tournament behind Westerville South (17) and Grove City (15) and ahead of Mount Vernon (8).
The Cougars did not win a match at sectional.
"The goal is to have fun, work as hard as they can ...," Hinckley said. "More importantly, they have to believe in themselves and do their best."
Aug. 6 -- Chuck Otte Memorial at Oakhurst
Aug. 7 -- OCC-Central at Clover Valley
Aug. 8 -- Fidelity Federal Invitational at Oakhaven
Aug. 11 -- OCC-Central at Turnberry
Aug 12 -- Pickerington Central Invitational at Turnberry
Aug. 13 -- Marysville Invitational at Darby Creek
Aug. 19 -- Central Crossing and Franklin Heights at Oakhurst
Aug. 20 -- Hilliard Davidson at Thorn Apple
Aug. 21 -- Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne at Worthington Hills
Aug. 25 -- Grove City at Oakhurst
Aug. 27 -- OCC-Central at Darby Creek
Sept. 3 -- Pickerington Central at Oakhurst
Sept. 9 -- Delaware and Pickerington Central at Turnberry
Sept. 10 -- OCC-Central at Apple Valley
Sept. 15 -- Central Crossing and Hilliard Darby at Oakhurst
Sept. 16 -- Delaware at Oakhaven
Sept. 17 -- Central Crossing, Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne at Oakhurst
Sept. 22 -OCC Shootout at Moundbuilders
Sept. 24 -- Hilliard Darby at Thorn Apple
Aug. 14 -- vs. Ready
Aug. 18 -- at Centennial
*Aug. 19 -- vs. Marysville
Aug. 20 -- at Grove City
Aug. 23 -- Teays Valley Invitational
*Aug. 26 -- at Thomas Worthington
*Aug. 28 -- at Upper Arlington
*Sept. 2 -- at Hilliard Davidson
*Sept. 9 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
*Sept. 11 -- at Dublin Coffman
*Sept. 18 -- vs. Central Crossing
Sept. 23 -- at Hamilton Township
Sept. 25 -- at Hilliard Darby