With just three players on his team in 2016, Westland boys golf coach Brad Kramer was concerned about the future of the program.
It's a different story three years later. The Cougars now have nine players, giving Kramer a reason to be optimistic about this season and beyond.
Westland was unable to record a team score in the Division I sectional tournament each of the past three seasons because of a lack of players, but Kramer is hoping that changes this fall.
"It's a great turnout," he said. "They're all great kids. They're easy to get along with. They listen, they're coachable. What makes my job fun is when kids want to be there, they're enjoying themselves, they're listening and they're really trying to get better."
Kramer, who is in his 15th season, credits senior Cory Daugherty for helping to recruit players in the offseason.
"I've really been looking forward to this season," said Daugherty, who is one of five returnees after leading the Cougars at sectional last season by shooting a 115. "I just want to do better. I'm pretty proud being a leader of the team."
The other returnees are juniors Brandon Fernandez, Aiden Lilly and Sam Stutz and sophomore Jaeven Eckles.
Senior Alexander Nordlund is in his first season on the team after previously playing football.
Senior Austin Clary and freshmen Saawan Patel and Tre' Shepherd round out the team.
"We're teaching them a new sport and trying to get them as good as we can," Kramer said. "It's all individual goals more than team goals. It's getting them around the course, it's getting them to learn all the etiquette and it's getting them to improve."
Westland finished sixth in each of the first two rounds of the four-round OCC-Central Division tournament. In the first round Aug. 6 at Turnberry, the Cougars (452) finished behind first-place Upper Arlington (299).
Daugherty led Westland with a 99, the first time he shot under 100 in league play.
"I'm pretty proud of myself," he said. "I'm pretty satisfied being under 100 in a league tournament."
In the second round Aug. 12 at Denison Golf Club, the Cougars (470) again finished behind first-place UA (302) as Daugherty shot a 96.
"They're playing from the back tees in the OCCs," Kramer said. "Unless you play every day, it's a tough course a lot of times."
The Cougars compete in the third round Aug. 28 at Apple Valley and close league play Sept. 11 at Darby Creek.
Last season, Westland went 1-19 to finish sixth behind champion UA (20-0).
Girls tennis team has experience
The girls tennis team returns several players, including senior Anna Ebert, who is playing first singles.
Also back are junior Kacey Flanigan at second singles, senior Samantha Khuon at third singles, seniors Katie Murray and Genesis Perez-Hernandez at first doubles and senior Anais Fernandez and sophomore Bella Corona at second doubles.
Other players are sophomore Rachel Peshko and freshmen Roxana Santiago Martinez and Nancy Angeles Santos.
"We want to improve on individual and team wins," said eighth-year coach Shaela Hinckley, whose team finished 2-16 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Central last season.
Westland opens league play Thursday, Aug. 22, at home against Marysville.
The Cougars finished third (5) in the South-Western City Schools tournament Aug. 10 behind host Grove City (15) and Central Crossing (9) and ahead of Franklin Heights (1).
Below are the coming schedules for the Westland cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 19 -- New Albany Invitational
Aug. 20 -- Groveport at Mentel Memorial
Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Gahanna
Aug. 22 -- At Whetstone
Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Grove City
*Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Marysville
Aug. 19 -- At Harvest Prep
Aug. 20 -- At Pickerington North
Aug. 22 -- At Franklin Heights