One thing Beechcroft High School boys tennis coach Daphne Hess hasn't had to worry about this spring is whether any players would serve as leaders.
That role has been filled by senior Godfred Kyei at first singles and juniors Henry Bright and Ali Mojtabaei at second and third singles, respectively.
"They're amazing role models for the rest of the group," Hess said. "That's one thing I love about coaching is that when you're able to have returning players, they set the tone for what the expectations are for the season. You see other players who are new step up and try to meet the expectations of the top players on the team, and it's exciting."
Beechcroft was 4-2 overall before facing Eastmoor Academy on April 24 and finished third in the City League-North Division at 2-2, behind Whetstone (4-0) and Centennial (3-1).
The Cougars lost to the Stars 3-2 on April 11 and fell 4-1 to the Braves on April 19.
Against Whetstone, Kyei lost 6-4, 6-3 at first singles, Bright lost 5-7, 7-5, 6-3 at second singles and Mojtabaei won 7-5, 6-2 at third singles.
Key players at doubles have included senior Shadrack Boakye, juniors Mike Malave and Andrew Zigaravich and sophomore Sam Kyereh.
Beechcroft competed in the City League coaches tournament April 23 and 25.
The Cougars, who are participating in a Huntington's Disease Society of America fundraising event Saturday, April 28, return to action Monday, April 30, at home against DeSales. They then will play Tuesday, May 1, at South and Wednesday, May 2, at Franklin Heights.
"It's been hard to put doubles teams together when you can't get your practices in, and I've got a lot of boys that are around the same ability," Hess said. "One thing I think my guys are really good at is upsetting their opponents' rhythm. We talk a lot about if you can get inside someone's head and mess with their confidence and you keep going for it, and we do really well at finishing the match. In the very least, if we can't overtake them, we can make it close."
City track squads tune up for big meets
Less than two weeks remain before the City League track and field meet May 7 and 9 at Africentric.
In the Gilchrest-White Invitational on April 18 at South, the Beechcroft girls team scored 128 points to finish first of 10 teams, ahead of runner-up Eastmoor (94), while the Africentric boys (114) finished first of nine teams, ahead of runner-up East (70).
Winning multiple girls titles in the meet were Beechcroft's Makiya Montgomery in the 100 meters (12.55 seconds) and 200 (26.15) and South's Jurnie Hemsley in the 800 (2:39.35) and 300 hurdles (52.99).
In girls relays, Beechcroft's Larissa Bronte-Agbor, Jaymie Roberts, Zha'Mia Vick and Montgomery won the 400 (52.18) and Bronte-Agbor, Vick, Montgomery and Amara Allen won the 800 (1:50.05), while Eastmoor's Jaylin Bradshaw, Daimya Butler, Trinity Cox and Jennaia Williams won the 1,600 (4:30.5) and Cox, Sanaa Jenkins, Jawahir Muhammad and Samaria Rodgers-Gossett won the 3,200 (11:47.41).
In the boys meet, Africentric's Calijawon Davis won the 1,600 (5:12.71) and 3,200 (11:39.29) and East's 800 relay of Jauron Armstrong, Deo Pierre, Samuel Pierre and Zaevious Toran (1:35.09), 1,600 relay of Kevin Brunston-Castleman, Michael Porter, Toran and Michael White (3:40.17) and 3,200 relay of Brunston-Castleman, Michael Dawson, Porter and White (9:06.39) all finished first, as did Linden-McKinley's 400 relay of Caleb Joyce, Amon Smith, Derek Smith and Eddie Stroughter (45.34).
Also on April 18, the Northland girls finished sixth (45) in the 15-team Gahanna Relays behind the champion and host Lions (145).
Finishing first for the Vikings were the 800 sprint relay of Brianna Brown, Charlea Henley, Jordan Saffold and Jeana Weatherspoon (1:54.58) and Henley in the long jump (16 feet, 10 3/4 inches). Their 400 relay of Henley, Saffold, Shaniya Samuel and Weatherspoon was runner-up (50.2).
Cougars softball team takes strides forward
With eight seniors on its roster, the Beechcroft softball team appears to be on its way to surpassing its 4-14 finish from a year ago.
The Cougars were 3-4 overall and in the City-North before facing Linden on April 23 and Mifflin on April 26.
"Our seniors are playing well," coach Marshall Cobb said. "The younger girls are stepping up and doing a good job, too."
Beechcroft's biggest struggle has been defense. In a 17-6 loss to Northland on April 20, the Cougars committed 13 errors.
Their first three wins came against Linden (7-3 on April 10), Mifflin (17-14 on April 12) and East (10-5 on April 18).
Junior Shailin Hasty has been the team's No. 1 pitcher.
Senior first baseman Justin Courlas, who was honorable mention all-league last season, and senior shortstop Devionne Camara have been other top players.
Others on the team include seniors Kierra Clark (2B), Deavoshun Fox (RF), Kalei Rustin (3B) and Kha Liyah Williams (LF), juniors Susan Alvarado (C) and Jada Stapleton (utility) and sophomores Nazarae Dialla'jai Hill (utility) and Amanda Nonato-Torres (utility).