Preston Nanthavong believes he has finally solved his new golf stroke.
A junior on the Groveport Madison High School boys golf team, Nanthavong had the second-best score in the third round of the OCC-Capital Division tournament Aug. 30 at Turnberry.
One of two representatives for the Cruisers, Nanthavong shot a 75 and lowered his league average to 82.
"I really struggled (in the second round Aug. 14) at Darby Creek and finished with a 90," he said. "But I've been continuing to work with my new swing and I feel really good right now after the round at Turnberry."
The top-five golfers with the best averages make first-team all-league, with the next five making the second team.
Nanthavong had the eighth-best average entering the fourth and final round Sept. 13 at Apple Valley.
"I had 81 (in the first round Aug. 8) at Clover Valley, so I was in a big hole after two rounds and it would be great to shoot par at Apple Valley and see if I could make first team," he said. "But not just for that purpose, but to carry the momentum into the sectional and district."
The Division I sectional will be Oct. 3 at Darby Creek, Clover Valley or Turnberry, with the top four teams and top four individuals not on a qualifying team from each sectional advancing to the district tournament Oct. 10 at Apple Valley.
Nanthavong shot a 91 at district last season after carding an 80 in the sectional at Darby Creek to earn the fourth and final individual district-qualifying spot.
"He's hitting the ball much better now," coach Joe Rinkes said. "At Turnberry, he putted very well and had a very solid round altogether. He scrambled on a few holes, but recovered very well.
"He had a bogey on 14 and a double-bogey on 15, but finished par-par-par because of his maturity this year. He totally committed to golf after last year. He was either on the range or competing on three different tours around central Ohio this summer. It is a big financial, time and mental commitment on his part."
Sophomore Ricky Cooper, who was on vacation and missed the first two rounds of the OCC-Capital tournament, shot a 110 at Turnberry.
"Ricky is doing well and really improving," Rinkes said. "It's a process and he's got a goal of breaking 100 this season."
Volleyball team has
The girls volleyball team was 6-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Capital heading into a match Sept. 12 at New Albany.
"We're playing pretty well overall, but we need to pick up our game because we're getting into the big league matches and playing some big non-league matches, too," senior libero Carsyn Saunders said. "We've got a lot of good players, just like we did last year. But our personalities mesh this year, so we have better chemistry."
The Cruisers play host to Newark on Thursday, Sept. 14, and travel to Big Walnut on Tuesday, Sept. 19. The Wildcats and Golden Eagles shared the OCC-Capital championship last season, and Big Walnut has won 13 league titles in the past 17 years.
Groveport won four of its first six matches last season and was 8-8 before finishing 9-14 overall, including 2-8 in the OCC-Capital.
"We started well last year, but things kind of snowballed on us," Saunders said. "I don't see that happening this year as long as we communicate on and off the court. I think we're working hard to have a good season, and I think we will."
Football season not
going as planned
Things haven't gone as well as the football team would've hoped.
After all-state receiver Izayah Aekins injured his right ankle in the final scrimmage, the Cruisers initially planned to be without him for one or two weeks.
Groveport christened its new turf field with a 27-0 loss to Westerville North in its opener Aug. 25. Then, the Cruisers yielded an interception in the final 20 seconds to set up Hamilton Township 5 yards from the end zone, gift-wrapping a 21-14 loss to the Rangers on Aug. 31 at Fortress Obetz.
Groveport fell to 0-3 with a 47-13 loss to host Thomas Worthington on Sept. 8.
Making matters worse, the Cruisers recently learned that Aekins is expected to miss the entire season because of the ankle injury.
And it doesn't get easier this week for Groveport, as it plays host to Pickerington Central on Friday, Sept. 15.
The Tigers, who were a Division I state semifinalist last season, are 2-1 after losing to Trotwood-Madison 28-19 on Sept. 8.
Central is averaging 22.7 points per game and allowing 23 per game but has played a brutal schedule. The Tigers opened with a 24-21 win over Detroit Cass Tech, the defending Division I state champion from Michigan, on Aug. 24 and beat Indianapolis Cathedral, a playoff qualifier in Indiana last season, 25-20 on Sept. 1.
Against Trotwood-Madison, the Division III state runner-up last season, quarterback Demea-tric Crenshaw was 11-for-22 passing for 142 yards with touchdown passes to Tristan Peppers (42 yards) and Trenton Gillison (6 yards). Peppers had five catches for 95 yards.
Running back Jamir Jackson joins Gillison and wide receiver Xavier Henderson as playmakers for the Tigers, who routed the Cruisers 45-14 last year.
Gillison and Henderson both are Michigan State commits. Henderson had seven interceptions last season and was named Division I district Defensive Player of the Year.
Against Thomas, the Cruisers received the opening kickoff and marched to the Cardinals' 25, but Luis Hernandez's 43-yard field-goal attempt was blocked.
Thomas scored 14 points in a 40-second span late in the first quarter thanks in part to an interception. The Cardinals led 21-0 and scored on five of their first six possessions to take a 34-13 lead into halftime.
Emmanuel Anthony rushed for 92 yards on 10 carries for the Cruisers and Wayne Blackshear added 66 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Quarterback Jacob Huffman threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Cody Wilson late in the first half.
Below are the coming schedules for the Groveport Madison cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 16 -- Shin Splint Invitational at Westland
Sept. 20 -- Franklin Heights at The Links at Groveport
Sept. 16 -- At Licking Heights
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester
Sept. 16 -- At Teays Valley
*Sept. 19 -- At Canal Winchester
Sept. 20 -- Hartley at Ohio Dominican
*Sept. 14 -- Home vs. Newark
Sept. 16 -- At Liberty Union
*Sept. 19 -- At Big Walnut