Based purely on the experience his team returned after tying for fifth in last year's Division I district tournament, Olentangy High School boys golf coach Joel Glassburn figured he and the Braves were in for a successful season.
And that was before senior Trey Wilson and freshman Bryce Reed crashed the top five and helped sustain a strong start for what in at least one respect is Glassburn's best team in a decade.
Led by senior Luke Boerner and junior Cam Casto, Olentangy's top four golfers entered the week averaging 75 to 78, a statistic Glassburn said he has not seen since before the opening of Orange in 2008.
"They all hit it really far, and they're consistent," Glassburn said. "We tend to hit fairways, or at least be fairly close. Occasionally we won't make the best shots and it leads to opportunities that aren't quite the easiest, and that's where we can lose a shot here or there, by staying down the middle. That's the kind of thing that gets you into first place in a tournament instead of second or third."
Boerner was averaging 75 entering the fourth and final round of the OCC-Buckeye Division tournament Sept. 13, ahead of Casto (77), Reed (77) and Wilson (78). Not far behind were sophomore Tanner Shimp (81), junior Garrett Leckrone (81.5), senior Ben Nash (82) and sophomore Bennett Zeitner (82).
Leckrone and Nash were in the top five last year.
Casto shot a 70 on Aug. 12 in the Steve Youmans Classic at Oakhaven, the team's best round entering this week. Boerner had a 71 seven days later during the Kent Miller Colonial Fall Classic at Hiawatha.
"We work really well together," Casto said. "I honestly expected us to be one of the top five teams in the district, and we've had a great season building off each other. If someone doesn't have a great day, somebody else will and that takes a lot of pressure off. I got that 70 earlier this year but I want to make sure I can shoot a low round when it really matters."
Boerner averaged 81.5 last year, and partly credited his drop to improved putting. Despite leading the team in average, Glassburn has kept Boerner in the third spot behind Casto and Wilson because of what he called "superstition," which doesn't bother Boerner.
"It's been mental, but I've also improved a lot with my putting. That's a change from last year," Boerner said. "People have told me I should be in the No. 1 spot, but I tell them I don't care. It just doesn't matter to me."
Olentangy was 10-5 in the OCC-Buckeye before Sept. 13, second behind Liberty (15-0).
Reed will be one of several losses after the season, including the three seniors. According to Glassburn, Reed will be reassigned to Berlin when it opens next fall.
The Braves aren't thinking any further ahead than the next month, however. They are eager to improve on last year's district performance and make the state tournament for the first time since 2000 and just the second time ever.
The top two teams at district advance to state.
"We need to have five guys in the 70s to compete in this area," Glassburn said. "It's been tough to get in that top four, and soon enough we'll figure out who that fifth guy will be for the postseason. That will be interesting to see how that comes out."
Tennis coach sees
While Kathleen Jones continues to anchor the girls tennis team at first singles, coach Jeff Luxenburger likes the progression he is seeing further down the lineup.
Priyanka Agochiya usually has played second singles, but Luxenburger has been flexible with other spots, playing Krista Graybill, Amanda Jones, Janie Miller, Vidya Puttagunta, Archita Sriram and Sophie Tayade anywhere from third singles to second doubles.
Olentangy was 3-4 overall before playing Hilliard Bradley on Sept. 12. It is 2-2 in the OCC-Buckeye.
"We're trying to find the right fit of players that work well together. We work very hard on doubles in practice, and each match we keep improving as we learn to try to be more proactive and less reactive during our points," Luxenburger said. "Janie Miller has become a very talented doubles player who is great at using her creativity and leadership to help her team. Priyanka Agochiya has been a stable presence for us at singles, and she has learned a lot of patience this year, which is critical for winning those long second- and third-singles points."
Luxenburger added that Kathleen Jones has improved her game by using power and spin to create openings on the court.
"Kathleen is playing as well as I have seen her play," Luxenburger said. "She has figured out how to play within herself and how to construct intelligent points by using her power and spin. She has always been one of the most powerful tennis players I have known, but now her tennis IQ is matching her physical skills."
The Braves went 0-2 in league matches last week, losing by 4-1 scores to Orange on Sept. 5 and Liberty on Sept. 7.
Olentangy's league finale is Wednesday, Sept. 20, at Westerville South.
Girls soccer team
racking up wins
The girls soccer team began defense of its OCC-Buckeye championship Sept. 12 against South, seemingly having recaptured some of the form that helped it get out to a 2-0 start.
Olentangy entered its league opener having gone 2-0-1 in a three-game stretch, with wins over Grove City (2-1 on Sept. 2) and New Albany (3-1 on Sept. 7) sandwiched around a 1-all tie against Upper Arlington on Sept. 5.
The Braves were 4-2-1 before Sept. 12.
Natalie Hegg had a team-high four goals through seven games, and Sydney Walker had three.
Below are the coming schedules for the Olentangy cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 16 -- Galion Festival at Amann Reservoir
*Sept. 18 -- At Dublin Jerome
Sept. 20 -- Home vs. Lancaster
Sept. 16 -- Trojan Invitational at Findlay Country Club
Sept. 18 -- Delaware County Bank Cup at Bent Tree
Sept. 19 -- Thomas Worthington at York
Sept. 14 -- Marysville at Darby Creek
Sept. 18 -- Centerburg and Delaware at Oakhaven
Sept. 14 -- At Hilliard Darby
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Westerville North
Sept. 14 -- Home vs. Darby
Sept. 16 -- Home vs. Watterson
*Sept. 19 -- At North
Sept. 18 -- At Columbus Academy
Sept. 19 -- At Hilliard Davidson
*Sept. 20 -- At Westerville South in makeup from Aug. 24
*Sept. 14 -- At Olentangy Orange
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty