After enjoying three consecutive winning seasons, the Columbus Academy baseball team had a disappointing finish a year ago, going 9-12 overall.
The Vikings are looking to recapture their winning form this spring under fourth-year coach Todd Dunkle.
Academy began the season on a positive note, going 2-1 during a spring-break trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and then cruising to a 19-0, five-inning win at London on April 2 in the MSL-Ohio Division opener.
London avenged that loss three days later, defeating the host Vikings 9-5. Academy then lost to Fredericktown 5-3 on April 6 and Hartley 9-4 on April 7.
The Vikings were 3-4 overall and 1-1 in the league before playing Worthington Christian on April 10. The game was postponed April 9 because of bad weather.
"We definitely want to do a lot better this year," said senior Ryan Mitchell, a pitcher and infielder who was named second-team all-league last season. "We put (in) a lot of work in the offseason, especially guys getting in the weight room and hitting before school and working in the fall. We've tried to work towards a common goal of winning the league and hopefully winning a district title and anything can happen from there."
Also back is senior Davis Friedman (P/1B), who was second-team all-district in Division III and honorable mention all-league last season.
"I've been contributing a lot since my sophomore year, so I'm definitely ready to step into a bigger leadership role," said Friedman, who led the Vikings with a .378 batting average a season ago. "I've tried to have a little more leadership each year. This should be the seniors' year, so we're definitely trying to lead the team in the right direction and set a precedent that coach Dunkle wants us to set."
Senior Matthew Saling (P/OF) was honorable mention all-league last season.
Other returnees are juniors Hayden Compton (P/SS), Max Glass (P/utility), Jordan Deuring-Hardiman (P/C/INF), Eric Meng (P/OF), Nick Rothmann (P/utility) and Evan Scott (P/OF) and sophomore Noah Glimcher (P/INF).
Senior Max Dreisbach, a standout swimmer at Academy, has returned after sitting out last season to focus on swimming and has earned the starting catching assignment.
Other players are junior Mitchell Priest (P/3B) and freshmen Andrew Golden (P/INF) and Brady Hess (P/INF). Priest is a transfer from Newark Catholic.
"We have four seniors and those seniors have tremendous leadership ability, and we have a pretty good pitching staff of three to six guys we could run out there on any given day that are really good, so that helps," Dunkle said.
Last season, the Vikings earned the majority of their wins in league play, as they went 8-3 in the MSL-Ohio to finish third behind champion Bexley (10-1).
"The league should be balanced this year," said Dunkle, who was named district Coach of the Year in 2016. "We did lose West Jefferson and they're going to be a team to beat in Division III when it comes to tournament time. We still have good solid programs with Bexley, Worthington Christian and Grandview."
Boys tennis team has new leader
Despite a change of leadership, the goals remain the same for the boys tennis team.
Marc Wurtzman, a teaching professional at Olympic Indoor Tennis Club in Columbus and a former coach at the collegiate level, has replaced Jeff Warstler. Wurtzman previously coached the Academy middle school team.
Warstler, who coached the Vikings for 14 seasons, is guiding the junior varsity team.
"He's the king of Academy, it's hard to follow in (Warst-ler's) footsteps there," said Wurtzman, who has been an assistant coach at Ohio State, Kenyon and Wisconsin and a head coach for one season at Capital. "I'm excited for the challenge at Academy. I've been the middle school coach, so I'm very familiar with the school."
Academy opened with a 5-0 win over Worthington Christian on April 5 in an MSL-Ohio match and defeated Westerville North 4-0 on April 6.
The Vikings split a pair of matches April 7 at Perrysburg, defeating Toledo Ottawa Hills 3-2 and losing to Toledo St. John's 3-2.
The top returnees are juniors Drew Haffer and Suriya Sundaram and sophomore Rhian Seneviratne, all of whom have been competing for singles spots.
Freshman Arie Tuckerman has been at first singles.
Senior returnee Sam Vogel has played first and second doubles, and sophomore Ryan Wahl and freshman Jack Madison also have been in the early lineup.
Senior Harry Zaye and freshmen Lucas Huang also should contribute.
"I'm very pleased with what we have," Wurtzman said. "We have a very good young group of kids, and we have a couple solid juniors and a couple of seniors. We have a really good chance to do well this season if we work hard and keep improving every day."
Academy is looking to replace 2017 graduates Austin Lawrence and Eric Min, who lost the Division II state doubles final last season 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 to Cincinnati Country Day's Vishaal Nalagatla and Justin Baker.
Lawrence and Min captured sectional and district titles after the Vikings went 11-4 overall and won the MSL-Ohio at 6-0 with 46 points, ahead of runner-up Bexley (43, 5-1).
Hammond takes over track and field teams
The boys and girls track and field teams return solid groups and also have added athletes who should contribute.
Third-year coach Denny Hammond will guide both teams after sharing head coaching duties last season with Bob Kirk, who retired after 43 seasons.
Academy opened April 7 by competing in the 12-team Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays at Big Walnut. The boys finished sixth (42 points) behind champion Big Walnut (94) and the girls finished eighth (27) behind champion Westerville Central (104).
For the boys, seniors Nick Robie (distance) and Nicholas Watson (distance) and freshmen Sam Huyghe (distance, high jump) and Jared Kass (distance, high jump) won the distance medley relay (8 minutes, 20.1 seconds). Robie, Watson, senior Kieran Law (sprints) and junior Liam McCann (distance) won the distance medley lap relay (11:19.14).
Other key returnees are seniors Karibi Hart (sprints, jumps), Christopher Heermann (distance), Carson Nichols (throws) and Angus Soderberg (400, 800) and sophomores Harry Mills (sprints) and Charlie Sabgir (distance).
Nichols missed the football and wrestling seasons after suffering an MCL injury during a football scrimmage.
Senior Herman Moultrie (sprints), juniors David Barren (sprints), Chris Boyle (sprints), Caleb Crawley (throws) and Dorrian Moultrie (sprints), sophomores Ezra Johnson (throws) and Sam Massick (sprints) and freshmen Durrell Moultrie (sprints) and Luke Nester (distance) also should contribute.
"It's going to take us awhile to put the pieces together," Hammond said. "We have a lot of kids out. We have 80-something (boys and girls) out."
Sophomore Mabry Nichols (jumps) led the girls team at Big Walnut, as she tied Central's Princella Ackon for first in the high jump (4 feet, 10 inches).
Senior Briyana Dragin (distance, 100, shot put), juniors Ginnie Ma (sprints, long jump, hurdles) and Samantha Kass (sprints) and freshman Hannah Clay (sprints, long jump) were fourth in the 400 relay (54.47). Clay, Dragin, Kass and junior Mercedes Crestanello (200, 400) were fourth in the 800 relay (1:55.97).
Other key returnees are seniors Chloe Dubenion (throws), Muriel Goldfarb (sprints) and Lexis Hughes (throws), juniors Callista Popp (distance) and Maddie Tuckerman (distance) and sophomores Annalise Grammel (distance) and Sarah Neltner (sprints).
Other key contributors should be sophomore Rachel Raque (high jump, distance) and freshman Reagan Cornelius (distance).
March 24 -- New Kensington (Pa.) Valley and Russellton (Pa.) Deer Lakes at Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
March 26 -- Philadelphia Friends Select at Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
*April 2 -- at London
*April 5 -- vs. London
April 6 -- at Fredericktown
April 7 -- vs. Hartley
*April 9 -- vs. Worthington Christian
*April 11 -- at Worthington Christian
April 12 -- vs. Whetstone
April 14 -- vs. Watterson
*April 16 -- at Bexley
*April 18 -- vs. Bexley
April 20 -- vs. Heath
April 21 -- at North Union (DH)
*April 23 -- vs. Grandview
*April 25 -- at Grandview
April 28 -- at Buckeye Valley (DH)
*April 30 -- at Whitehall
*May 2 -- vs. Whitehall
May 3 -- at Granville
May 4 -- at Jonathan Alder
May 5 -- vs. Newark Catholic (DH)
*April 5 -- at Worthington Christian
April 6 -- vs. Westerville North
April 7 -- Toledo Ottawa Hills and Toledo St. John's at Perrysburg
*April 10 -- vs. Whitehall
April 11 -- vs. Olentangy
*April 12 -- at London
April 13 -- vs. Cincinnati St. Xavier
April 16 -- at Dublin Jerome
*April 17 -- at Wellington
*April 19 -- vs. Bexley
April 23 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
*April 24 -- at Grandview
April 25 -- vs. Pickerington North
April 26 -- at Olentangy Orange
April 30 -- vs. New Albany
May 4 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
May 7 -- at Thomas Worthington
May 8 -- vs. Westerville Central
TRACK & FIELD
April 7 -- Red Edwards Golden Eagle Relays at Big Walnut
April 13 -- Friday Night Eagle Invite at New Albany
April 17 -- vs. Grove City Christian, Northside Christian and Patriot Prep
April 18 -- Gahanna Relays
April 21 -- Bloom-Carroll Invitational
April 23 -- vs. Centerburg
April 27 -- Milt Will Relays at Canal Winchester
May 4 -- Africentric Invitational
May 5 -- Mount Gilead Invitational
May 8, 11 -- MSL-Ohio meet at London
Below are the coming schedules for the Columbus Academy boys lacrosse and girls lacrosse teams:
April 12 -- At Buckeye Valley
April 14 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
April 17 -- Home vs. Licking Valley
*April 12 -- At Hartley
*April 17 -- At Wellington