The Columbus Academy boys golf team appears to be well on its way to defending its Division II state championship.

The Vikings shot a 313 in the opening round of the state tournament Oct. 12 at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course and lead second-place Chardon Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin (324) by 11 strokes. Kettering Alter (325) is third entering the final round Oct. 13.

Last year, Academy trailed Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin by three strokes heading into the final round, only to rally to win the championship by 10 strokes.

“We just need to go out and play our game and take care of business,” Vikings coach Craig Yakscoe said. “That doesn’t matter who is ahead. We just can’t go away from playing our game.

“It always helps having the experience like we had last year. Our kids have been here before, they know what to expect and they know the environment. On the other side of the coin, there could be some pressure from expectations. We still have to go out there and get it.”

The Vikings are the only team from the Central District competing at state, but Bexley’s Trevor Binau is playing as an individual. The senior leads the field of 72 golfers after shooting a 1-under par 71 in the first round, four strokes better than Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy’s Jack Sonne (75).

“This was one of the best ball-striking rounds I have had in my life, really,” said Binau, who was state medalist as a sophomore but failed to qualify for state last fall. “I played it conservatively. I didn’t always grab for the driver and I aimed for the center of the green on almost every hole.”

Binau and his coach, Jimmy Ryan, entered the tournament with a game plan.

“We talked about this before his round. We want to go out and play steady golf,” Ryan said. “If you want to take chances, you can do that (in the final round). It was the best round of golf I had ever seen a high school golfer play in a tournament like this. He fought through the round so well. It was brilliance.”

Junior Ali Khan led Academy with a 76, followed by juniors Kahmar Byers (77), Matthew Cammeyer (78) and Griffin Mitchell (82) and freshman Russell Ahmed (86).

“I think we learned stuff from last year,” Byers said. “We have to go out and do what we do. All of us didn’t play well today. We just want to go out and play better than today.”

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