The Delaware Hayes High School girls golf team will be battling for second place in the OCC-Cardinal Division when it competes in the fourth and final round of the league tournament Tuesday, Sept. 12, at Cooks Creek.
It's the position the Pacers have been seeking all season given that they're in the same league as Dublin Jerome, which won five consecutive Division I state championships from 2011-15 and finished fifth at state last year. The Celtics are led by senior Abby Kiefer, who shared the individual state title last season.
"We all knew we were fighting for second place because Jerome is in a league of their own," first-year coach Rob Stultz said. "So to have the chance to finish second, that's where we wanted to be all along."
The Pacers are 14-4 through three rounds of the league tournament, second behind Jerome (18-0). Hilliard Bradley (13-5) is third, followed by Dublin Scioto (7-11), Worthington Kilbourne (6-12), Thomas Worthington (3-15) and Hilliard Darby (2-16).
"The girls are excited and we've had high team spirit all season," Stultz said. "Some of them have played Cooks Creek and some others are planning to go get in a round before (Sept. 12)."
Delaware placed second in both the first round Aug. 9 at Westchester and the second round Aug. 15 at Mentel Memorial before placing third (410) in the third round Aug. 29 at Royal American, behind Jerome (313) and Bradley (404).
"We knew we would struggle a bit at Royal American after shooting 388 at Westchester and 372 at Mentel Memorial, but we didn't play poorly," Stultz said. "We held our own. We are 20-5 overall (through Sept. 5)."
Freshman Kenzie Collett leads the Pacers with a 94.7 league average, followed by senior Riley Geiger and sophomore Alyssa Stultz (both 101.3), junior Sophia Zehner (103.0) and senior Kelly Horvath (103.7).
"We are doing leaps and bounds better than past years," Geiger said. "We're all working hard and helping each other and coach Rob is good at reading our moods and is very motivational. Kelly and I have dropped 10 or 12 strokes from our averages and the younger girls are incredibly good and have made a big difference."
Horvath said the program is continually improving.
"We are doing amazing and I'm so proud of everyone on this team," Horvath said. "To finish second (in the league) would be important for this program. It's a little surprising, but not astonishing, because we've been improving every year."
Boys golf team
struggling in OCC
The boys golf team has yet to post a win in the OCC-Cardinal entering the fourth and final round of the league tournament Wednesday, Sept. 13, at Clover Valley.
Delaware is 0-18 in the league, behind Jerome (18-0), Thomas (15-3), Scioto (12-6), Kilbourne (8-10) and Bradley and Darby (both 5-13).
The closest the Pacers have come to beating a league opponent was in the second round Aug. 14 at Apple Valley, when they shot 361 and Darby posted a 350. Sophomore Luke Gazarek (83) and freshman Hunter Piroska (89) led the Pacers that day.
Gazarek has improved with each round of the league tournament. He carded a 92 in the first round Aug. 8 at Turnberry and an 82 in the third round Aug. 30 at Darby Creek. He has an 85.7 league average.
Senior Logan Keeder is second on the team with a 95.7 league average, followed by freshman Ben Madden (96.3), sophomore Zack Raquepaw (98.7) and Piroska (99.3).
girls volleyball team
The girls volleyball team is closing in on its win total from last season as it strives for its first winning season since going 12-9 in 2009.
The Pacers were 8-3 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing a league match Sept. 7 at Jerome and a tri-match Sept. 9 against host Marion Harding and Franklin Heights.
Delaware finished 11-13 last season.
"We played well this summer and in the preseason, but this is a better start than we expected," senior middle hitter Julia Justice said. "In the past, we've had a little drama. That won't happen this year. Half of the team is seniors and almost all the younger girls were with us last year. We have a connection with them and that has made a difference.
"As seniors, we have emphasized leadership and trying to set an example. We want to guide the younger girls to a positive future for this program. That's important to us."
Coach Liz Kaylor-Palmer said that unity has paid off in winning some tight league matches.
Before Sept. 7, the Pacers had played three consecutive five-set matches, beating Thomas (21-25, 18-25, 25-17, 25-17, 15-9 on Aug. 29) and Bradley (25-17, 28-26, 22-25, 14-25, 15-13 on Aug. 31) before losing to Kilbourne (23-25, 14-25, 25-21, 25-21, 15-9 on Sept. 5).
"It's going to be a real dogfight in the OCC, so I'm hoping our energy, unity and hard work will be the difference in some of these close (matches)," Kaylor-Palmer said. "I think our serving is more aggressive and that has kept our opponents out of system, and our front-row players are stronger and hungrier than in the past."
Against Kilbourne, Lauryn Rocassin, Julia Kaylor and Sydney Krewson each had 12 kills. Rocassin also had 21 assists, as did Anna Johnson. Krewson had four aces, Kaylor had three aces and two blocks and Justice had three blocks, while Audrey Hannahs had 34 digs and 42 receptions.
Football team searching
for offensive rhythm
The football team will face a tough task when it plays host to Washington Court House on Friday, Sept. 15.
The Blue Lions had improved to 2-0 with a 33-12 win over Circleville on Sept. 1 and were averaging 37.5 points before losing to London 51-47 on Sept. 8. The Pacers, meanwhile, lost at Marysville 35-0 on Sept. 1 and to Westland 19-14 on Sept. 8, falling to 1-2.
Washington Court House, which finished 7-3 last season, is led by quarterback Dillon Steward, running back Jacob Rice, his twin brother Caleb Rice at slotback and receivers Eli Lynch, Eli Ruth and Rich Burns.
Behind an offensive line anchored by Colton McNichols, Jacob VanMatre and Dwayne Wade, Jacob Rice ran for 228 yards, including 180 in the second half, against Circleville. Steward added 91 yards rushing and threw touchdown tosses to Caleb Rice (17 yards) and Ruth (60 yards).
In a 42-26 win over Blanchester on Aug. 25, Steward was 13-for-22 passing for 259 yards and ran for 168 yards as the offense rolled up 520 total yards. Ruth had three touchdown catches and Lynch had six receptions for 119 yards.
Defensively, Washington Court House is led by inside linebackers Trystan Uhl and Chase Sluder, lineman Jalen Pettiford and free safety Zane Smith.
The Pacers were hoping to get their offense on track against Westland on Sept. 8. Against Marysville, they managed just 144 total yards after gaining 225 in a 21-14 win over Buckeye Valley on Aug. 25.
The Monarchs scored 14 points in the first quarter, led 21-0 at halftime and added 14 points in the third quarter. They got 119 yards rushing from Deven Slabaugh.
Running back Blain McCormick led the Pacers with 67 yards rushing. Defensively, Glenn Pauley had eight tackles and Josiah Naegele and Ben Conahan both had six.
Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware Hayes cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer., girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 16 -- Galion Festival at Amann Reservoir
Sept. 13 -- OCC-Cardinal at Clover Valley
Sept. 16 -- Howlett Invitational at Worthington Hills
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Cardinal at Cooks Creek
Sept. 13 -- Marysville at Blues Creek
Sept. 14 -- Dublin Scioto at Oakhaven
*Sept. 12 -- At Thomas Worthington
Sept. 14 -- Home vs. Grove City
*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington
Sept. 16 -- Home vs. Newark
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Westerville North
*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby in makeup from Aug. 17
Sept. 13 -- Home vs. Marysville
Sept. 14 -- At Westland
*Sept. 14 -- At Hilliard Darby