Only about halfway through the regular season did Westerville Central High School girls golf coach Steve Stewart realize his team was exceeding all his expectations.
Hopeful the Warhawks could hold their own with only one senior, he watched them amass a 47-14 record entering this week and a fifth-place finish in the four-round OCC-Capital Division tournament.
"I'm seeing them make some really intelligent decisions on the course with their club selection and what shots to play," Stewart said. "They've really worked on their short games and are playing a lot better from 180 yards in. They've converted a lot of opportunities where instead of having to three-putt, it becomes chipping up and putting instead."
Central is getting strong contributions from senior Kasey Moore, juniors Alexandra Hansen and Emma O'Brien, sophomores Ana Borish and Evelyn Keefer and freshman Ellyn Briggs. According to Stewart, each has led the team in at least one round and all are averaging between 90 and 96 strokes per 18 holes.
The Warhawks finished 11-13 in the OCC-Capital, behind Dublin Coffman (24-0), Hilliard Bradley (17-7), Marysville (16-8) and Worthington Kilbourne (12-12) and ahead of Westerville South (4-20) and Westerville North (0-24).
Stewart said getting a regular dose of the usual area powers such as Coffman and Dublin Jerome at tournaments has not intimidated his team. In the Division I sectional tournament Tuesday, Oct. 2, at Mentel Memorial, Central will tee off one group behind Coffman, Upper Arlington and Marysville -- the district's second, sixth and eighth seeds, respectively.
The top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team at each sectional advance to the district tournament Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek. South also will compete in the nine-team Mentel Memorial sectional, and North will compete in the 10-team Oakhaven sectional with top-seeded Jerome, fourth-seeded Watterson and seventh-seeded Bradley.
"It might be cliche, but I've always told the girls just to work hard every day and let things take care of themselves," Stewart said. "When that happens, things will play out like they're supposed to. The teams we'll see at sectional, we've seen them quite a bit so far. If we bring our best game, who knows what can happen?"
North boys coach wants consistency
With his team coming off a second-place finish in the four-round OCC-Cardinal tournament, North boys coach Bob Markin is working hard this week to make sure that's the form to which the Warriors revert after a 10th-place finish in the Howlett Invitational on Sept. 22 at Worthington Hills.
North shot a 355, finishing 19 strokes behind champion Upper Arlington B (336). The Warriors' previous high score in a tournament this season was 336, which they shot during the first round of the OCC-Cardinal tournament Aug. 15 at The Players Club at Foxfire and again in the Hickory Hills Invitational on Sept. 15. North finished second and sixth, respectively, in those events, 38 and 16 strokes behind winners Jerome (298) and Lancaster (320).
"I like the effort I'm seeing, but I think the guys are capable of more consistency," Markin said. "We still have work to do."
North shot a 324 in the final round of the OCC-Cardinal tournament Sept. 19 at Darby Creek to place second, 39 shots behind champion Jerome (285). The Warriors finished 23-5 in the league to place second, behind Jerome (28-0) and ahead of Central (21-7), Bradley (14-14), South (12-16), Hilliard Darby (9-19), Kilbourne (4-24) and Dublin Scioto (1-27).
Senior Will Vosler has been the Warriors' top golfer all season, followed by seniors Kyle Mondlak, Matt Patterson and Markus Patterson. Freshman Spencer Jordan also has cracked the lineup.
North is the 11th seed in the district in Division I and will compete in the 14-team Darby Creek sectional on Tuesday, Oct. 2. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams at each sectional advance to the district tournament Oct. 9 at Darby Creek.
Among the teams competing in the Darby Creek sectional are fifth-seeded Coffman, sixth-seeded Olentangy Liberty and eighth-seeded Lancaster.
Central and South will be competing in the 13-team sectional at The Players Club. The Warhawks and Wildcats are seeded 14th and 22nd, respectively. Others competing at the sectional site include second-seeded Jerome, fourth-seeded New Albany, ninth-seeded Teays Valley and 13th-seeded Olentangy.