The Hartley girls golf team believes it is ready to take another step of maturation this fall.
Now in its third season fielding a full lineup, the Hawks have a returning district qualifier and two other returnees to go along with four freshmen.
"We had three girls come back, so we have a really solid base," second-year coach Kerry Ford said. "We're hoping that this year we'll be ready to take the next step in terms of being more competitive, especially in the CCL. The girls are in position to build on what we did last year."
The Hawks, who went 2-6 in the CCL last season to place fourth behind co-champions Columbus School for Girls and DeSales (both 7-1), began league action Aug. 14 with the CCL preseason tournament at NorthStar. CSG is no longer in the CCL.
The final round of league play will be held Oct. 5 on the same course.
The top returnee is junior Nicole Deline, who shot a 79 to tie for 12th of 54 competitors in the Division I district tournament last season to finish four strokes behind the second and final individual state qualifier. She shot an 80 at sectional at Westchester to advance to district individually.
The other returnees are junior Caroline Berger and sophomore Nicola Eramo. Both were in the lineup as Hartley shot 381 to place seventh at sectional last season.
Lauren Whitlatch, who is expected to play in the No. 3 position, leads a four-member freshman class. She regularly competes at Columbus Country Club, according to Ford.
Classmate Olivia Brotherton also is expected to be a regular in the lineup, while the other freshmen are Abby Murphy and Lola Vandermark.
The biggest loss from last season was 2019 graduate Kennedy Knuth, who had the team's second-best score at sectional (91).
"(Whitlatch has) a really solid game and I'm really excited to see her this fall," Ford said. "Nicole Deline got to district last year and Caroline Berger is back. We're trying to get them to the next step. I'd love to get Nicole to state. Olivia Brotherton has some work to do, but she's got solid basics. Abby Murphy just took up golf but plays out at Brookside and I was really impressed with how much she's progressed. I'm pretty excited."
Boys golf lineup to have new look
With two-time state qualifier Trent Tipton no longer in the program, the boys golf team entered the offseason with uncertainty surrounding how its lineup would shake out this season.
Strong performances early this fall by sophomores Cam Casto and Drew Navarro are taking away some of the uneasiness.
"They both played mostly varsity as fifth and sixth men and contributed once in a while, but sometimes they were along for the ride," sixth-year coach David Liskowiak said. "They both stepped up and want to be No. 1."
Senior Andrew Inthavongsone was the team's No. 2 player last season behind Tipton, and Liskowiak expects him to be among the team's top players again.
While Tipton was a Division II state qualifier as a sophomore and junior and shot a 76 to finish sixth at district last season, Inthavongsone shot 75 at district to tie three others for the second-best score but lost a three-hole playoff for the final state berth.
Navarro shot 95 at district last season.
Junior Dominic Rees also returns, while juniors Colton Ramsey and Mason Casto are in key roles after playing junior varsity last fall.
Juniors Tyler Woods and Nathan Bentivegna are others who could crack the lineup at some point this fall.
Tipton is now playing for West Virginia after helping the Hawks finish third (323) at district last season behind state-qualifier Columbus Academy (304) and Bexley (309).
Bexley is now competing in Division I, leaving the Hawks and Academy as two of the district's top Division II teams.
"Bexley has moved up to Division I, Jonathan Alder moved up to Division I and DeSales moved up to Division I," Liskowiak said. "Obviously, (Bexley has) been the class of our district for a number of years, so I do think it might have opened up things for us a little.
"We're missing Trent and we're not going to put up the same numbers as last year, but a good goal is to make it to district again. There are a lot of things we can work on to lower our scores."
Girls tennis team returns entire lineup
The girls tennis team had 35 athletes try out, including all of its competitors from last season when it finished 4-8 overall and 1-3 in the CCL.
Among the returnees is junior Gia Green, who played first singles and reached the second round of the Division II sectional at CSG last season.
Seniors Laurynn-Rae Caldwell and Lauren McFann also return after losing in the first round at sectional in singles.
Juniors Morgan Liden and Maria Kelley, who lost in a sectional quarterfinal in doubles, and seniors Elise Amorati and Leah Herbert, who lost in the second round at sectional in doubles, are others who should have regular spots in the lineup.
Others who could be key contributors include seniors Grace Croswell and Caitlyn McCarthy, juniors Maggie Agra and Joelea Kelley and sophomore Emily Thompson.
"We've got everybody back this year, so we'll be pretty strong," 22nd-year coach Lynn Winters said. "I think we're looking really good. They're practicing really hard and they're great, great kids. They're all good students and very nice kids. We've got such a deep bench, and all of our strong players are really looking good."
Below are the coming schedules for the Hartley field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 19 -- At Hilliard Lynx
*Aug. 21 -- Home vs. Watterson
Aug. 15 -- CCL preseason tournament at Apple Valley
Aug. 16 -- Heath Invitational at Burning Tree
Aug. 20 -- Lakewood and Pickerington Central at Turnberry
Aug. 21 -- Canal Winchester and Pickerington North at Turnberry
Aug. 16 -- Home vs. Bexley in opener
Aug. 16 -- At Worthington Christian in opener
Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Bloom-Carroll
Aug. 16 -- At Westerville Central
Aug. 19 -- Teays Valley at Wolfe Park
Aug. 21 -- Home vs. Bloom-Carroll
Aug. 19 -- At Liberty Union in opener