Things have been looking up since late in the preseason for the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys lacrosse team.
There was a question during tryouts regarding whether the Lions would have a junior varsity team because of lower numbers than fifth-year coach Chris Robbins expected.
A recruiting effort swelled participation to the mid-30s to keep a j.v. team alive, and some of the veterans in the program began to assert themselves as leaders.
After opening with a 7-4 victory over Westerville Central on March 17, Gahanna lost to Hilliard Darby 8-3 on March 23 and fell to Licking Valley 15-7 on March 31.
Gahanna finished 6-12 overall last season and placed sixth in the OCC-Central Division at 2-5. Its league opener is Thursday, April 5, at home against Pickerington North.
"It's been going well," senior midfielder Thomas Prociuk said. "Me and some of the other seniors are helping the young guys step into the varsity level. Our win over Westerville Central was a big shock. Our main goal is to have a 10-win season and get a playoff game at home."
Prociuk and seniors Charles Clayton (defender), Quinton Klein (midfielder) and David Leibas (goalkeeper) have been leading the way.
Leading the attack are sophomore Dylan Rumpke and freshmen Mykohl Martin and Colton Ramsey. Other attackers include junior Chase Ramsey and sophomore Mason Hall.
Junior Jon Swelstad and sophomore Sean Cunningham are other returnees at defender, where they're joined by juniors Riley Lutsko and Ben Siegle and sophomore Michael Leibas.
Junior Connor Estell has moved from defender to midfielder, where he, Klein and Prociuk are joined by seniors Jordan Caldwell and Alex Love, juniors Aaron Menges and Tyler Torr and sophomores Steven Dong, Benjamin Herman and Zane Thayer.
Sophomore Aidan O'Harra is the backup goalie.
Although the Lions had just five seniors last season, senior Austin Barok and sophomore Noah Swenson were among a group of five that transferred to other schools.
"We just believe (the younger players) have the skill set that fits what we're looking for," Robbins said. "What we'll see is them catching up to the varsity speed.
"We've really prefaced leadership development. We realized outside of captainship, the more leadership we have the more it's going to benefit us in the long run. We're sitting on a gold mine, and in time that's going to trickle into middle school and high school."
Girls lacrosse team to build on best year
In its seventh season playing a full varsity schedule last spring, the girls lacrosse team posted a winning record for the first time.
One person who has been there every step of the way, Maggie Maley, will try to help the Lions continue their progression this season.
Maley is a 2013 Gahanna graduate who played for the Lions. The last four years, she served as an assistant coach.
During the past offseason, she took over as coach after Shelley Huffman stepped down after two seasons.
"I'm excited about it," Maley said.
The Lions opened March 22 with a 13-8 victory over Westerville Central as sophomore midfielder Julia Foresi had four goals and junior attacker Melanie Whalen scored three.
Senior Stephanie Shirey and junior Sydney Ankrim are other key returnees at midfielder.
Seniors Amanda Olsen and Samantha Stafford both have experience in goal, and freshman Haley Meheran and junior Lexi Bochenek also could see time at the position.
The other seniors in the program are defenders Marissa Frissora and Makina Walt.
Freshman Brooke Gates is another key player on defense.
Also looking to contribute are juniors Elizabeth Babcock (defender) and Morgan McIlwain (midfielder), sophomores Izabella Belesovski (attacker), Julie Bray (defender) and Tatum Myers (defender) and freshmen Casey Bare (attacker) and Anna Linnabary (attacker).
The Lions finished 13-11 overall and 3-3 in the OCC-Central last season. They open league play Thursday, April 5, at Pickerington North.
"This is definitely a building year because we lost a lot, but our goal is to build up the younger players and I think it'll be a good year," Maley said. "Defensively we look really good. We have some freshmen who we want to gain confidence."
Boys volleyball coach excited for potential
After going 12-12 in 2016 and 11-14 a season ago, the boys volleyball team has a four-year starter in outside hitter Russell Burke and four other returning seniors.
There are experienced players in some of the other classes, too.
"I think we're going to be vying for an OCC title, and we can make a pretty deep run in tournament," 15th-year coach Mike Sage said. "We've got to play as a group, because we have players at a high level. We've got a good core returning."
Gahanna opened with a 25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 25-19 loss March 24 against Clayton Northmont. The Lions began OCC-Ohio action April 3 against Pickerington North.
Burke was first-team all-league and second-team all-East Region in Division I last season.
Senior middle hitter Matthew Scurlock was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-region, and junior libero Logan McDonald was honorable mention all-league.
The other seniors are returnees Preston Brown (right-side hitter), Mitchell Osment (defensive specialist) and Derek Salley (outside hitter) as well as Paul Padgett, who is new to the team and is playing outside hitter and right-side hitter.
Junior right-side hitter Mason Milan also is a key returnee.
Juniors Adam Chandoul (setter) and Kirk Klamfoth (middle hitter) and freshman Logan Burrell (setter) are other key players, and junior middle hitter Andrew Lau is another looking to contribute.
"We've been talking about how we have some good players across the board," Sage said. "Our limitation might be how good of a team we can be. Our focus has been on playing together and playing within ourselves."
March 17 -- vs. Westerville Central
March 23 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
March 31 -- at Licking Valley
April 3 -- vs. Big Walnut
*April 5 -- vs. Pickerington North
April 7 -- at Toledo St. John's
*April 9 -- at Hilliard Davidson
*April 12 -- at Marysville
April 14 -- at Bexley
*April 17 -- vs. Pickerington Central
April 21 -- at Westerville North
*April 24 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
*April 26 -- at Upper Arlington
*April 30 -- vs. Newark
May 2 -- vs. Johnstown
May 5 -- at Columbus Academy
May 7 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
May 11 -- at Westerville South
March 22 -- vs. Westerville Central
April 3 -- vs. Westerville South
*April 5 -- at Pickerington North
April 7 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
April 9 -- at Westerville North
*April 10 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
*April 12 -- vs. Marysville
April 14 -- at Hilliard Bradley
April 16 -- vs. Centennial
*April 17 -- at Pickerington Central
April 19 -- at Big Walnut
*April 25 -- at Dublin Coffman
*April 26 -- vs. Upper Arlington
May 1 -- vs. Watterson
May 3 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
May 4 -- vs. Columbus School for Girls
May 8 -- vs. Chillicothe
March 24 -- vs. Clayton Northmont
*April 3 -- vs. Pickerington North
*April 4 -- at Dublin Coffman
*April 9 -- vs. Pickerington Central
*April 10 -- at Upper Arlington
*April 12 -- vs. Reynoldsburg
April 14 -- Spike for Tykes at Hiram College
*April 17 -- at Hilliard Davidson
*April 19 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
*April 23 -- at Pickerington North
*April 26 -- at Pickerington Central
*May 1 -- vs. Upper Arlington
*May 3 -- at Reynoldsburg
May 4 -- at St. Charles
May 5 -- at Stow-Munroe Falls with Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph
*May 8 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
May 11 -- vs. Watterson
May 12 -- at Beavercreek with Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit
May 15 -- OCC Challenge at TBA
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln baseball, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
*April 6 -- At Pickerington North
*April 9 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
April 10 -- At Watterson
*April 11 -- Home vs. Grove City
April 5 -- At Marysville
April 10 -- Home vs. Teays Valley
*April 11 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
*April 5 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
April 6 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
April 7 -- Hilliard Bradley Doubles Tournament
*April 10 -- At Pickerington North
April 11 -- At Thomas Worthington
TRACK & FIELD
April 7 -- Stingel Invitational at Pickerington North
April 9 -- At Hilliard Darby