One thing about Kayla Davis that first-year Gahanna Lincoln High School girls golf coach Chase Huddle has noticed in the few weeks he’s worked with her is that he can’t tell by her demeanor when she’s had a bad hole.
Don’t think, though, that the senior doesn’t get intense when things are difficult.
One of the Central District’s two individual Division I state qualifiers last season, Davis knows exactly what she’ll be getting into this postseason considering her best chance to return to state likely is by advancing individually.
“I 100 percent look forward to it,” Davis said. “I love the competitiveness of this game and only playing for two (state-qualifying) spots. I love just being able to play and fight for a spot.”
Davis was the OCC-Ohio Division overall medalist each of the past two seasons and likely wrapped up the honor again this fall.
Heading into the fourth and final round of the league tournament Sept. 12 at Royal American, Davis was averaging 70.7 and held a 23-stroke lead over the golfer with the second-best average, Pickerington North’s Caroline Kane (78.3). Davis was medalist in each of the first three rounds, including Aug. 29 when she shot a 68 at Westchester.
The Lions were second in the league at 12-3 behind the Panthers (15-0) heading into the final round and are scheduled to play one tournament and three other matches before the postseason begins with sectionals Oct. 2.
Davis, who missed advancing to state by three strokes as a sophomore, was co-medalist at district last season with a 71 and followed with a 20th-place finish (153) in the 36-hole state tournament.
During the offseason, she competed in tournaments at Kent State and in the Dayton area in addition to practicing regularly.
“I’ve been enjoying my senior year,” Davis said. “I’ve had a few tournaments I’ve really enjoyed and been able to put some competitive scores. (Shooting) 68 is my best so far, but I’m aiming to shoot a 66 this year as well, so I’m getting closer.
“Every year I try to get a little bit better in an area of my game. Putting has been huge this year. I’ve put in a lot of work and have eliminated three-putting, so it’s just little baby steps that have helped me progress each year.”
Davis has led a lineup that also has included juniors Alexis Buck and Alexis Harris, sophomore Elise Wenz and freshmen Molly Cepek and Taylor Patterson. Wenz was averaging 82.7 through three rounds of the league tournament.
Gahanna finished just two strokes behind Pickerington North in two of the first three rounds.
“The season’s been going really well,” Huddle said. “Kayla Davis is having a phenomenal senior season. The other ladies are playing well. They’re learning the golf courses and shooting better and better as they get more comfortable with the golf courses. We’re a young group, but we’re looking good and getting better and better.”
Davis, who first took up the sport when she was 10, has received interest from Cleveland State, Bowling Green, Ohio University and Northern Kentucky and likely will pursue a career as a nurse practitioner.
“I was dancing at the time, did gymnastics, I swam and I did tennis, but I didn’t really love anything, so my dad was like, ‘Hey, why don’t we try golf?’” Davis said. “I love spending time with my dad and getting to play with him was fun. It’s just become a part of me and I can’t imagine doing anything without golf.”
Tennis team building with young players
With three freshmen in its regular lineup, the girls tennis team is experiencing a season of growth, according to coach Chris Schwinnen.
The Lions were 3-5 overall before playing Hilliard Bradley on Sept. 10 and Granville on Sept. 12 and finished 2-3 in the OCC-Ohio. They earned league wins over Reynoldsburg (3-2 on Aug. 23) and Grove City (4-1 on Aug. 30).
Gahanna, which lost to New Albany 3-0 on Aug. 16 in the first round of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament, plays Thursday, Sept. 13, at Dublin Scioto and Saturday, Sept. 15, in the Reynoldsburg Doubles Tournament.
At the Reynoldsburg event, each of the eight schools will enter first, second, third and fourth doubles competitions.
“We’re a very young team and we’re doing really well,” Schwinnen said. “They’re working hard. They’re very coachable. Every single match, they’re battling. They’re doing nothing but getting better and hopefully the hard work will pay off into some wins, but we’ve got a tough schedule and we’ll see how it shakes out.”
Freshman Aubrey Thomas has been at first singles, with junior Maddie Herrmann at second singles and freshman Caroline Mattox at third singles.
Seniors Rachel Becker and Hannah Secrist have been playing first doubles and senior Abby Slates and freshman Harshi Vathyam are at second doubles.
“Aubrey’s got a fantastic attitude and doesn’t let stuff get to her,” Schwinnen said. “Caroline and Harshi are the same way. Obviously, we’re looking to get wins this year, but in the future, we can step up even more.”
Soccer squads to open OCC play
The boys and girls soccer teams open OCC-Ohio action Thursday, Sept. 13, against Reynoldsburg.
The boys team, which plays at the Raiders, was 2-3-2 before playing defending Division I district champion Dublin Jerome on Sept. 11.
Last season, Gahanna beat the Raiders 5-3.
The Lions defeated Westerville Central 2-0 on Sept. 4 and Westland 3-0 on Sept. 6 for their first two victories.
Senior Bachir Diane scored both goals and senior Alex Mundschenk and junior Payton Smith split time in goal against Westerville Central. Against Westland, Diane and seniors Tareeq Chambers and Brian Rapp scored and Smith earned the shutout.
One of Gahanna’s losses came against Olentangy Liberty, which beat the Lions 2-1 on Aug. 23 and was ranked second in last week’s Division I state poll.
The girls team, whose game against Dublin Coffman on Sept. 8 was postponed, is 3-1-2 entering its league opener at home against Reynoldsburg.
The Lions beat Reynoldsburg 3-0 last season, but the Raiders have followed an 8-10 season last fall by taking a 6-0-1 record into their game Sept. 11 against Newark.
Gahanna lost to Canal Winchester 1-0 on Aug. 17 but earned victories over Westerville South (3-0 on Aug. 23), Watkins Memorial (2-0 on Aug. 30) and Westerville Central (2-0 on Sept. 4).
Against Westerville Central, junior Katie Stafford scored both goals and sophomore goalkeeper Alyssa Redmond made five saves.
Redmond has been splitting time in goal with senior J.J. Lampert.
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 15 – Central Ohio Invitational at Three Creeks Metro Park
Sept. 15 – Rodney Butt Classic at Denison Golf Club
Sept. 18 – Canal Winchester at Kyber Run
*Sept. 13 – At Reynoldsburg
Sept. 18 – At Westerville North
*Sept. 13 – Home vs. Reynoldsburg
Sept. 15 – Home vs. Upper Arlington
Sept. 13 – At Dublin Scioto
Sept. 15 – Reynoldsburg Doubles Tournament
Sept. 19 – At Big Walnut
*Sept. 13 – At Grove City
Sept. 15 – At Worthington Kilbourne
Sept. 18 – At Upper Arlington