The Gahanna Lincoln boys golf team believes the pieces are there to build on a season in which it won its second consecutive OCC-Ohio Division championship and was in the mix for its first Division I state tournament berth.
There likely will be some learning moments along the way, according to coach Judy Ratzenberger, for a program that will feature just one senior and includes five freshmen who should provide depth.
"We have a core group of returning varsity players who have dedicated themselves to the game," said Ratzenberger, who is in her 11th season sharing coaching duties with Lori Scott. "They've competed in tournaments and spent many hours practicing and playing. Our returning sophomores and juniors need to keep working and gaining experience. They show promise but need more tournament experience."
The Lions and Pickerington Central each shot 315 in the first round of the OCC-Ohio tournament Aug. 6 at Darby Creek, but the Tigers finished first on the fifth-score tiebreaker. The second round was held Aug. 12 at Apple Valley.
The only senior is Dylan Errington, who carded a 78 at district last season as Gahanna shot 317 to finish fourth behind state-qualifiers Dublin Jerome (293) and St. Charles (309) as well as Olentangy Orange (313).
Junior Mitchell Soma shot a 72 to earn medalist honors in the first round of the league tournament. Junior Max Hahn was next for the Lions with an 80, followed by Errington with an 81 and sophomore Evan Henry with an 82.
Also on the team is sophomore Kyle Lark.
Errington was runner-up in the league last season with a 75.8 average. Soma (77.8) also made first-team all-league and 2019 graduates Michael Hahn (78.0) and Drew Bailey (78.5) were second-team all-league.
"We have five incoming freshmen who show great talent and coachability," Ratzenberger said. "This is the largest freshman turnout in a while and the coaching staff is excited to work with them. As coaches, we're excited for our players and families. After repeating as the OCC-Ohio champions last year, the history of the Gahanna Lincoln golf program is progressing, reflecting the positive growth of our players, support of our athletic department and our parents."
Girls golfers off to strong start
The girls golf team shot 351 in the opening round of the OCC-Ohio tournament Aug. 7 at Blacklick Woods to edge second-place Pickerington North (354).
The second round was held Aug. 14 at Royal American.
The strong start comes despite Gahanna losing its No. 1 player from the past four seasons to graduation in 2019 graduate Kayla Davis, who now plays for Bowling Green.
"We're going to be very competitive," second-year coach Chase Huddle said. "Obviously, losing a player of Kayla's talent is going to be more difficult, but most of the girls stepped up their game. We should be very competitive in the OCC-Ohio."
Junior Elise Wenz shot an 82 to finish fifth in the first round of league play, followed by sophomores Taylor Patterson (86) and Molly Cepek (90) and seniors Alexis Buck (93) and Alexis Harris (96).
Last season, Davis earned her third consecutive OCC-Ohio medalist honors by averaging 71.8. Wenz (83.3) also earned first-team all-league honors and Buck (99.8) was honorable mention all-league as the Lions went 16-4 to finish second behind Pickerington North (20-0).
Senior Emily Perry, junior Ummehani Motiwala, sophomore Rose Zeigler and freshman Cee Cee Holmes are others looking to contribute.
On Aug. 5 in the Lady Lion Invitational at Jefferson, Gahanna shot 385 to finish 12th of 15 teams behind champion New Albany (297) as Patterson led with a 94. Wenz did not compete.
At last year's Division I sectional at Mentel Memorial, Gahanna and DeSales each shot 372 but the Stallions won the fifth-score tiebreaker to advance to district. The Lions finished seventh at district in 2017.
Tennis team enjoying influx of youth
A youth movement that began last season when three freshmen became key players is continuing for the girls tennis team this fall.
The Lions have added a group of freshmen who should have an impact this season as well, giving 11th-year coach Chris Schwinnen hope that the team will be able to have a better winning percentage.
Gahanna went 5-11 last season, including 2-3 in the OCC-Ohio. The Lions opened Aug. 14 against Marysville and begin league play Aug. 22 at home against Reynoldsburg.
"The incoming class is a little bit better than the three seniors I lost," Schwinnen said. "I've got three to four pretty good freshmen coming in. They've all got great attitudes, great sportsmanship, play with great effort and I'm having a ton of fun. They're really working hard."
Sophomore Aubrey Thomas should lead the way after playing first singles much of last season.
Freshman Frankie Nuss is expected to be at one of the singles spots, with senior Maddie Herrmann and sophomore Caroline Mattox also likely seeing time at singles.
Sophomore Harshi Vathyam is another returnee.
Freshmen Mary Grace Halliday and Alana Amer are expected to be key contributors, with sophomore Sophie Graham and junior Emily Innis also in the mix.
Gahanna is not competing in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament.
During last year's postseason, Mattox and Thomas were the fourth-seeded doubles team at the Division I sectional at Reynoldsburg but lost in the second round.
At sectional, Herrmann and Vathyam lost in the second and first rounds, respectively, in singles.
"We had a lot of close matches last year and we're really hopeful they can go our way and we'll be closer to .500," Schwinnen said.
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 20 -- St. Charles at Little Turtle
Aug. 16 -- Watkins Memorial Invitational at Cumberland Trail
Aug. 17 -- Midwest Classic at Skyland Pines
Aug. 19 -- Liberty Township Lakota East Invitational at Yankee Trace
Aug. 16 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester in opener
Aug. 16 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester in opener
Aug. 21 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
Aug. 15 -- Home vs. New Albany
Aug. 17 -- Reynoldsburg Doubles Tournament
Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
Aug. 21 -- At Upper Arlington
Aug. 20 -- At Westerville South in opener