Preston Nanthavong was trying to make peace with his putter this week.
The senior represented the Groveport Madison High School boys golf team in the Division I district tournament Oct. 9 at Apple Valley with a berth in the state tournament at stake.
The top two individuals not on the two qualifying teams advanced to state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Nanthavong advanced to district by sharing medalist honors in a sectional Oct. 2 at Turnberry, shooting a 72 to tie three others. The top four individuals not on the four qualifying teams advanced.
"I left a lot of strokes out there with my putter," said Nanthavong, a three-time district qualifier who was seeking his first state berth. "I had three birdies and three bogeys, but I had three of four good looks at birdies and didn't knock them down. I had an eagle putt on 18 that I missed, too. But overall, I gave myself good lies and my putts were close. I had a few of them lip out."
Nanthavong opened on the back nine and closed on the front side.
"I started off a bit rocky on the back side and shot 37," he said. "But I was able to make a little run on the front because I was hitting more greens and that allowed me to make a few pars and give me those chances for birdies. I wanted to finish under par, because I haven't done that all year. I just missed, but maybe I can get that done at district."
Nanthavong, who has committed to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, has worked very hard to take the next step.
"I worked really hard to get (to state) because this is my last chance," he said. "It's been my goal for a few years now and it would mean a lot to me to represent Groveport and to compete against the best golfers in the state.
"I played Apple Valley quite a few times this summer and I had a 72 once. But there is added pressure with big stakes on a big stage. I need to play well and putt well to give myself a chance."
Football team preps to play Wildcats
The football team will be seeking to bounce back from a close loss to rival Canal Winchester when it plays host to Newark on Friday, Oct. 12, in an OCC-Capital game.
The Cruisers dropped to 3-4 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Capital with a 14-7 loss to the Indians on Oct. 5. That same night, Newark fell to 1-6 overall and 1-1 in the league with a 35-6 loss to New Albany.
The Wildcats won last year's meeting 14-0 for their lone win, while Groveport finished 0-10.
"We've got three games left and we have to go 1-0 each week to have a winning season, which was one of our goals this year," Cruisers coach Bryan Schoonover said. "We know it won't be easy, but that's what we're striving and working for."
The Wildcats are allowing 33.9 points per game and scoring 12.6 per contest. They have scored just 13 total points in the past four games.
Groveport has outscored its opponents by an average of 17.9 points to 17.3.
Against Canal Winchester, the Cruisers scored on their first possession, with fullback Jashaun McGraw rushing for a 21-yard touchdown, but couldn't score again despite amassing 211 yards rushing.
"We couldn't capitalize on (the Indians') mistakes," Schoonover said. "We had trouble finishing drives and turning their turnovers into points. It was a real grind, a very, very physical game. Our defense was very good as usual. I thought (linebackers) Skyler Mouser and Deahmi Guinn played very well and (defensive back) John Motton did, too.
"I really think our offensive line has been getting locked in and doing well. (Slotback) Jalil Underdown had some good plays on offense and Ryan Burke had a strong game in special teams."
Cross country teams set for league meet
The cross country teams will compete in the OCC-Capital meet Saturday, Oct. 13, at Lancaster.
The Cruisers prepared for the meet by participating in the Backwoods Festival at Thornville Sheridan on Oct. 3.
The boys finished seventh (240 points) of 23 teams in the two-mile event, behind champion Sheridan (61). Illyaas Haji placed sixth (10 minutes, 13 seconds) of 258 runners, followed by Peyton Baker (13th, 10:26), Kaleb Wilson (44th, 10:54.1), Eli Jackson (97th, 11:29.2) and Jason Pinkston (109th, 11:38.5).
The girls placed 15th (332) of 24 teams, behind champion Granville (18). Melanie Torres placed 16th (12:40) of 138 runners, followed by Cherub Clarke (33rd, 13:17.3), Sophia Barros (79th, 14:05.1), Brianna Chan (106th, 14:26.7) and Antonia Woods (126th, 14:44).
Season ends for girls tennis team
The season ended for the girls tennis team in a Division I sectional Oct. 5 at Upper Arlington.
None of the Cruisers' five entries finished in the top four in singles or doubles to advance to the district tournament Thursday, Oct. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 13, at Reynoldsburg.
In singles, juniors Kelsea Caldwell and Precious Anumbondem both went 1-1, winning play-in matches before losing in the first round, and senior Serena Musungu lost in the first round.
In doubles, senior Anahi Herrera and sophomore Cassie Salva had a first-round bye, as did junior Lori Hill and freshman Gabby Monjaras. Both teams lost in the second round.
Groveport, which had just two seniors, finished 2-10 overall and 1-5 in the OCC-Capital to place fifth behind champion New Albany (5-0).
Below are the coming schedules for the Groveport Madison boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 17 -- Home vs. 34th-seeded Westland in first round of Division I district tournament. The Cruisers are seeded 24th.
Oct. 15 -- At 20th-seeded Westerville North in first round of Division I district tournament. The Cruisers are seeded 39th.
*Oct. 11 -- At Big Walnut. The Cruisers lost to the Golden Eagles 25-8, 25-14, 25-13 on Sept. 25.
Oct. 15 -- Home vs. 29th-seeded Canal Winchester in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays at top-seeded Olentangy Liberty in second round Oct. 17. The Cruisers are seeded 29th.