The Columbus Academy baseball team is pursuing an elusive goal.
The Vikings are seeking their first state tournament berth since 2003, and fifth-year coach Todd Dunkle believes they have the potential to get there. They came within a win of advancing to state last season, losing to Coldwater 7-2 in a Division III regional final to finish 19-14 overall.
"We talked about (last season) the first day of practice and we mentioned how great it was, but we also mentioned what has happened in the past stays in the past," Dunkle said. "Every team is different and it takes a lot of hard work, a little bit of luck to try and do that again. There's definitely some potential."
The Vikings lost several key players to graduation but return a solid group led by senior Nick Rothmann (P/INF). He was second-team all-district and all-MSL-Ohio Division last season after hitting .360 with a team-high 37 runs and 20 RBI.
Senior Jordan Deuring-Hardiman (INF/OF) batted .455 with 25 runs and was second-team all-district, and senior Evan Scott (P/OF) scored 25 runs and was honorable mention all-league.
Junior Noah Glimcher (P/INF) hit .310 and was 3-1 with a 3.08 ERA, 40 strikeouts and 42 walks in 47 2/3 innings.
Senior Hayden Compton (P/INF) was 5-3 with a 2.62 ERA, 60 strikeouts and 26 walks in 48 innings. Compton, who was second-team all-district, is expected to lead the pitching staff.
"We have a lot of guys missing from last year ... but we have new guys coming in who have a lot of potential, so we hope they can capitalize on that," Compton said.
Also back are senior Mitchell Priest (P/INF), junior Andrew Leaventon (P/C/INF) and sophomores Keiran Gorospe (OF), Brady Hess (P/INF) and Jacob Podgurski (P/INF).
Dunkle said Leaventon and freshman Jonathan Hill (C/OF) are competing to replace 2018 graduate Max Dreisbach at catcher.
Other players are sophomores Finn Cassady (INF/OF) and Brian Comisar (OF) and freshmen Tanner Compton (P/2B) and Carter James (P/INF/OF).
Tanner Compton, who is Hayden's brother, has replaced 2018 graduate Ryan Mitchell at second base. Mitchell was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district last season after hitting .311 with a team-high 23 RBI and scoring 28 runs.
"We have a lot of young talent coming up," Rothmann said. "With a little development, we'll be rocking and rolling."
Academy slipped to 2-3 with a 13-7 loss at Granville on April 6.
The Vikings open MSL-Ohio play Monday, April 15, at Worthington Christian. Last season, they went 6-4 in the league to finish second behind London (8-2), which has moved to the Central Buckeye Conference.
"We're not bare, but we're going to take a few lumps," Dunkle said. "There are going to be some bumps in the road and, to me, that's OK because we didn't schedule light. We scheduled some good ball teams. We're going to be prepared."
Boys tennis squad features deep roster
Second-year boys tennis coach Marc Wurtzman said competitions have developed in the early season for the starting assignments on all five courts.
Sophomore Aric Tuckerman has received the early starts at first singles, with senior Suriya Sundaram at second singles and sophomore Jack Madison at third singles.
Senior Drew Haffer and junior Rhian Seneviratne have played first doubles, and junior Ryan Wahl, sophomore Lucas Huang and freshman Ryan Pauley have combined to play second doubles.
"We have experience," Wurtzman said. "I have some options. My singles players are all strong doubles players, so going into sectional and district we'll have some options. We're strong in both. All the guys can play some good singles."
The Vikings were 2-3 before opening MSL-Ohio play April 9 against Worthington Christian. They finished 13-5 overall and placed second (5-1) in the league last season behind Wellington (6-0), and the teams meet April 23 at Academy.
After going 0-3 during a trip to Florida over spring break, the Vikings defeated Hilliard Darby 5-0 on April 3 and Upper Arlington 3-2 on April 4.
The Vikings will play host to league rival Bexley in their opening Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament match on a date to be determined. Last season, Academy lost to Wellington 5-0 in a Division II Central/Southeast Region semifinal, which also served as the league match between the teams.
"We'd love to make the (OTCA) state tournament," Wurtzman said. "We've been working hard to get as strong as we can be. Our goal every year is to make (a state semifinal)."
Track teams have things to 'figure out'
The boys and girls track and field teams again are hoping to make long postseason runs.
Academy competed in the Zuber Relays on April 6 at Liberty Union. The boys finished third (61) of 12 teams behind the champion and host Lions (97) and the girls were seventh (37) of 11 teams behind first-place Liberty Union (96.5).
"We have some young kids who are new to the sport, so it's going to take a while to figure out what we have," fourth-year coach Denny Hammond said. "We'll move people around. They're good kids. They work hard."
For the girls, senior Samantha Kass, junior Annalise Grammel and sophomores Hannah Clay and Regan Cornelius teamed to finish seventh in the 1,600-meter relay in the Division III state meet last season while establishing a program record of 4 minutes, 1.93 seconds.
Clay and Kass were part of the program-record setting 800 relay (1:47.36), which finished second at regional.
Hammond also expects juniors Kiersten Thomassey (sprints) and Nikki Turley (throws) to contribute.
Thomassey competed on a limited basis last season while focusing on lacrosse. She now is concentrating solely on track.
"Having Kiersten full time is going to be a big deal," Hammond said.
For the boys, senior Liam McCann was part of the 3,200 relay that finished third (7:59.45) at state last season, and seniors David Barren, Sam Massick and Harry Mills were members of the third-place 400 relay (43.26).
Another key returnee is sophomore Luke Nester (distance).
Below are the coming schedules for the Academy baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis and track & field teams:
April 11 -- Home vs. Marion Pleasant
April 13 -- At Newark Catholic
*April 15 -- At Worthington Christian
*April 17 -- Home vs. Worthington Christian
April 11 -- Home vs. Wellington
April 13 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
April 16 -- At Licking Valley
*April 11 -- Home vs. Hartley
April 13 -- Rocky River in Hannigan-Galipault Tournament at Thomas Worthington
*April 16 -- Home vs. Wellington
*April 11 -- At Whitehall
April 13 -- Cincinnati St. Xavier at Upper Arlington
April 15 -- Home vs. St. Charles
TRACK & FIELD
April 12 -- Licking Heights Invitational
April 17 -- At Gahanna