Preston Nanthavong wasn't overly concerned when he carded an 80 for the Groveport Madison High School boys golf team in the first of four rounds of the OCC-Capital Division tournament Aug. 7 at Denison Golf Club.
"I was yanking my drives left and I also missed too many par putts to put up a good score," said the senior, who was first-team all-league last year.
"I started off rough last year in my first two (league rounds) and bounced back. I'm much more confident in my game this year. I had a great summer and was in contention in almost every event I competed."
Still, Nanthavong had the second-best score in the first round, behind New Albany's Griffin Green (76).
Last season, Nanthavong posted an 81 in the first round at Clover Valley and followed with a season-high 90 in the second round at Darby Creek. He was hoping to avoid the same fate in the second round this year on Aug. 13.
Nanthavong was a Division I district qualifier for the second season in a row a year ago. He shot an 80 in the district tournament at Apple Valley to tie for 29th of 72 competitors, as the top two finishers advanced to state.
"My goal this year is to break through and get to state," Nanthavong said. "That's been my goal for a while now and this is my last chance. I do feel some extra pressure, but I also feel I'm more prepared this season than I've ever been before."
Nanthavong was Groveport's lone representative in the first round of the league tournament, so the Cruisers did not have a team score. New Albany won the round with a 323, followed by Canal Winchester (382), Big Walnut (341) and Newark (397). Franklin Heights also did not have a team score.
The Cruisers had just two golfers last year and both returned, with the other returnee being junior Rickie Cooper. Freshman Price Cooper, Rickie's brother, also is on the roster.
"The goal for Rickie this year will be to break 100 in OCC events," eighth-year coach Joe Rinkes said. "I expect to see a nice improvement from him this year. He and his brother have been working real hard over the summer. Price is a baseball guy, so he's got work to do on his swing.
"Preston competed in three leagues over the summer and averaged in the mid- to high-70s. He's striking it very well. We're hoping to get him to state. All three of them are on different levels and have different goals and we want each of them to meet their individual goals."
Rinkes also has a goal -- to add at least one more golfer to the roster this season.
"It'd be nice to get a fourth body so that we could compete as a team and have team goals as well," he said. "All three of our guys are asking around, but it's not a cheap sport so we've got hurdles to overcome from the start."
Tennis team seeks further improvement
The girls tennis team showed modest improvement last season, finishing 2-8 overall after going 1-11 in 2016.
Second-year coach Phil Hankins expects the Cruisers to more than double last year's win total this season as three players have returned.
"Our league schedule is brutal, but my hope is to get to five wins this season," said Hankins, whose team went 1-4 in the OCC-Capital each of the past two seasons. "Our team is young as far as experience, but they are improving every day and working hard. We lost our top two players (Aleah Brown and Raaya Cummings) to graduation, but the additions to the team should make us better overall."
The returnees are senior Anahi Herrera, junior Kelsea Caldwell and sophomore Cassie Salva.
"Kelsea is a third-year player with a solid service game and good forehand," Hankins said. "Anahi is a senior who plays smart tennis.
"Our singles lineup will likely be Kelsea at No. 1, Anahi at No. 2 and (senior) Serena Musungu, who is new to the team, at No. 3."
Other newcomers are juniors Precious Anumbondem and Lori Hill and freshman Gabby Monjaras.
"Precious is a transfer from Madison Christian and Gabby has solid groundstrokes and good court coverage for a freshman," Hankins said. "I think Cassie and Precious will be a good pairing at first doubles.
"We currently have just seven players, so depth is a bit of a weak point. I hope we make it through with no injuries."
Groveport opened Aug. 10 against Teays Valley and begins league play Aug. 23 at Franklin Heights. The Cruisers are scheduled to play 14 matches this season, but the first 13 will be on the road, as they are awaiting their new courts to be completed.
Hankins is hopeful that the new courts will be ready in time for the season finale Oct. 2 against Bloom-Carroll on senior night.
Aug. 7 -- OCC-Capital at Denison Golf Club
Aug. 13 -- OCC-Capital at Darby Creek
Aug. 23 -- Franklin Heights at The Links at Groveport
Aug. 29 -- OCC-Capital at Turnberry
Sept. 5 -- Franklin Heights at The Links at Groveport
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Capital at Apple Valley
Sept. 17 -- Westland at The Links at Groveport
Sept. 26 -- Westland at Oakhurst
Aug. 10 -- at Teays Valley
Aug. 15 -- at Central Crossing
Aug. 16 -- at Pickerington North
Aug. 18 -- at Whitehall
Aug. 21 -- at Lancaster
*Aug. 23 -- at Franklin Heights
*Aug. 28 -- at Canal Winchester
*Aug. 30 -- at New Albany
*Sept. 4 -- at Newark
*Sept. 6 -- at Big Walnut
Sept. 13 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
Sept. 24 -- at Hamilton Township
Oct. 1 -- at Ready
Oct. 2 -- vs. Bloom-Carroll
Below are the coming schedules for the Groveport Madison cross country, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 21 -- New Albany Invitational
Aug. 22 -- At Reynoldsburg
Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
Aug. 23 -- At Millersport