The Olentangy Berlin boys golf team has high aspirations for its second season.
Since they had no seniors a year ago, the Bears have returned all of their players. Included in that group are three of the area's top golfers in senior Leila Raines, junior Bryce Reed and sophomore Brady Casto.
"This is the most talented golf team that I have coached," coach Andrew Fraley said. "I think we have a legit shot at making it out of district."
Last season, Reed and Casto both reached the Division I district tournament at Apple Valley. Reed shot a 79 to finish 23rd and Casto tied for 53rd with an 84.
Raines, a Michigan State recruit, was runner-up in the Division I girls state tournament on Ohio State's Gray Course with a two-day total of 141, three strokes behind Centerville's Marissa Wenzler. Raines played the regular season with the boys team but competed in the girls postseason. This year, she will only play with the boys.
"We will have Leila all year from start to finish, so we get to finish what we started last year," Fraley said. "We won't lose her in the postseason this time. We will be highly disappointed if we don't make district (as a team)."
The Bears will face postseason-level competition from defending state champion Dublin Jerome during the four-round OCC-Cardinal Division tournament. Berlin finished second (23-5) in the league last season behind the Celtics (28-0), who have won eight state championships.
On Aug. 6 at Apple Valley, Jerome (301) finished first in the opening round, ahead of Berlin (308), Delaware (315), Hilliard Bradley (321), Hilliard Darby (335), Thomas Worthington (353), Worthington Kilbourne (360) and Dublin Scioto (375).
Reed was medalist with a 65, 10 strokes better than runner-up Tyler Groomes of Jerome. Raines shot an 80, followed by Casto (81), senior Layne Comyns (82) and junior Ethan Hegg (83).
"I think (this season) is different (from last year) experience-wise," Reed said. "Based on the tryouts, we have been putting up good scores and I have seen a lot of improvement. I think this year from playing in the summer and practicing a lot, I have seen a drastic improvement in our putting."
Berlin finished third (306) in the second round of league play Aug. 12 at Turnberry behind Jerome (297) and Bradley (300). Reed again earned medalist honors, shooting a 71.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Brody Moore, Tanner Shimp and Logan Wright, junior Caleb Haaser and sophomore John Kirkwood.
"We're going to play a tough schedule, and having an elite program like Jerome in the league will help," Fraley said. "It's like Ohio State (football) chasing Alabama. We're chasing Jerome and really the whole state is chasing Jerome. They will make us a better team."
Franz returns for girls tennis team
The girls tennis team returns its top player in sophomore Ella Franz, who reached the Division II district singles final last season.
The Bears, however, have moved up to Division I a year after finishing 6-10 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Cardinal.
"Ella will play first singles and will give Division I a shot this season," said first-year coach Richard Hunt, who has coached the Delaware boys team the past six seasons. "She works a lot in the offseason to get better, but the other girls have seemed to also have improved from last year."
Senior Vidya Puttagunta returns at singles, while juniors Janna Harris and Emma Reger also will see time on the singles courts. Seniors Maddie Reger and Maggie Torlone, juniors Juniya Franks and Sydney Webb and freshman Ella Bishop will vie for doubles positions.
"It's a fun group and a good character group," Hunt said. "They do the right things and they are good to be around. They listen well and their fundamentals are good, especially their volleys."
The Bears opened Aug. 13 against Mount Vernon in a match that also was their opener in the OTCA team tournament. They begin OCC-Cardinal play Thursday, Aug. 15, against visiting Scioto.
Girls golf team doubles in size
The girls golf team has doubled its roster from two to four participants, and coach Bethany Dlesk said there was a possibility of some additions after school begins.
Squads need four competitors to earn a team score in matches.
Sophomore Michele Starner is back from last season, while sophomores Isabella Hutton and Paige Kellner and freshman Reagan Clifton have joined the team.
Senior Sierra Cardi, who played for the Bears last year, has moved out of state.
"I'm excited after only having two (golfers) last year," Dlesk said. "It doesn't give us much margin for error, but at least we can have a team."
The Bears did not have a team record in the four-round OCC-Cardinal tournament last year because of their limited roster. They also did not have a team score in the first league event Aug. 7 at Mentel Memorial because Kellner was unable to play.
Starner led Berlin with a 99.
The second round was Aug. 14 at Blacklick Woods.
Below are the coming schedules for the Berlin cross country, field hockey, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 19 -- New Albany Invitational
Aug. 19 -- Home vs. Columbus School for Girls
Aug. 21 -- At Lancaster
Aug. 15 -- Buckeye Valley at Oakhaven
Aug. 17 -- Watkins Invitational at Cumberland Trail
Aug. 16 -- At Orange
Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Grandview
Aug. 16 -- At Orange
*Aug. 15 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto
Aug. 17 -- CSG Doubles Tournament
*Aug. 20 -- At Hilliard Bradley
Aug. 21 -- At Columbus Academy
*Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Scioto