As the only senior in the Delaware Hayes boys golf team's regular lineup, Luke Gazarek has attempted to shoulder as much of the leadership load as possible.
That occurs regardless of what score he posts.
"He has a lot to do with the reason that we are where we are," coach Andy Graham said. "He does all he can to keep the younger guys interested and wants to be competitive. He makes those kids not afraid to go out there and compete. He wants his teammates to do well. He wants to beat everyone, but he wants to beat everyone on both teams."
With Gazarek leading a lineup that includes one junior and three sophomores, Delaware shot a 322 in the fourth and final round of the OCC-Cardinal Division tournament Sept. 11 at Denison Golf Club to place second behind Dublin Jerome (299).
The Pacers finished fourth overall in the league at 19-9, behind Jerome (27-1), Olentangy Berlin (22-6) and Hilliard Bradley (20-8).
"It's been fun just being a leader," Gazarek said. "Last year, we were even younger. It's pretty much the exact same team as last year and I feel like we've been pretty solid."
Sophomore Colin Bibler finished fourth on the Pacers with an 82.75 league average but turned in a team-best 77 in the final round. Also in the final round, sophomore Brady Gazarek carded a 78 and averaged 78 for the tournament and Luke Gazarek shot an 81 and averaged 79.
Brady Gazarek made second-team all-league, Luke Gazarek and sophomore Mark Sulek (80.75) both made third team and Bibler was honorable mention.
Junior Ben Madden and sophomore Tyler Brown also have contributed.
"I putted pretty well and just kept hitting a lot of fairways, which helped," Bibler said. "We've got three sophomores who have really helped out the team, so it's pretty cool."
The Gazarek brothers both began competing in golf about five years ago and Luke is considering playing in college, with Cedarville and Findlay among his top choices.
Brady has improved about 10 strokes from a season ago when Delaware finished 18-10 in the OCC-Cardinal after going 0-24 in 2017.
The Pacers weren't satisfied with their team score at Denison Golf Club, but that's mainly because of the success they've enjoyed at other times this season, according to Graham.
In the Marion Harding Invitational on Sept. 6 at Marion Country Club, Delaware shot a 301.
"(Shooting a 322) is one of the worst scores of the year," Luke Gazarek said. "I want to see us break the school record, which is 297, and I'd also like to see us make (the Division I) state (tournament). We've just all got to play well on the same day.
"My freshman year, I averaged 97, and this year I'm averaging about 76. Before this year I'd never really thought about playing golf in college. I've really enjoyed our bus rides after matches, typically when we all play well."
Tennis team taking strides forward
On Aug. 17 in the eight-team Reynoldsburg Doubles Tournament, the girls tennis team finished third with 18 points behind Watkins Memorial (30) and Gahanna (24).
Considering the Pacers finished seventh at the same event a year ago, they viewed that as an early positive sign.
The season has continued to progress for Delaware, which is 4-5 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Cardinal.
Included in the Pacers' losses are 5-0 decisions to two perennial area powers in Upper Arlington (Aug. 19) and Dublin Jerome (Sept. 3).
"Even against some of the strong competition we have played, the girls are hanging in there to gain confidence and learn some resilience," coach Dede Hibinger said. "Over the next several weeks, we will need to continue to reduce our unforced errors and handle the pressure of being in close matches. The team is more competitive than we have been the past few years."
Among the bright spots, according to Hibinger, has been the continued growth of sophomore Evelyn Mignanou, who has moved from third singles to first singles.
Posting wins in a 5-0 victory over Westerville North on Sept. 9 were Mignanou at first singles, Alana Kay at second singles, Lily Tope at third singles, Grace Martin and Meredith Keller at first doubles and Abbey Eyerman and Sydney Wolfe at second doubles.
"Each of the players throughout the lineup and into our (junior varsity) group has shown glimpses of fine play and we expect to gain some momentum as we move toward the sectionals," Hibinger said.
The Division I sectional tournament drawing is Sunday, Sept. 22. Sectional play will be held Oct. 3 and 5 at four sites.
Football team looks to again beat Bears
The football team attempted to bounce back from a 35-14 loss to Marysville on Sept. 6 when it played Westland on Sept. 13 in its final non-league game.
The Pacers open OCC-Cardinal action Friday, Sept. 20, at second-year Olentangy Berlin. They won the inaugural matchup a year ago 38-7.
Delaware entered the game against Westland looking for a more complete performance after allowing Marysville running back Chase Kilgore to rush for 232 yards and four touchdowns.
The Pacers trailed just 14-7 early in the third quarter after putting together an 80-yard scoring drive to open the second half.
Mistakes such as a penalty that nullified a touchdown late in the first half and several dropped passes were among the issues Delaware was hoping to clean up heading into Week 3.
Berlin was 1-1 before playing Toledo St. John's on Sept. 13.
"We had some opportunities to make some big plays (against Marysville)," coach Scott Wetzel said. "When you play a team that's an average football team and you have a breakdown of a play, you can get away with it. When you play a team like Marysville and you have a breakdown of a play and you're setting up first-and-15 or second-and-15, that's not good. We have to eliminate those small miscues that don't seem like a lot but add up over time."
Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware Hayes cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 21 -- Celtic Clash at Dublin Jerome
Sept. 16 -- Olentangy Liberty Invitational at Kinsale
Sept. 17 -- Marysville at Oakhaven
Sept. 16 -- Olentangy, Olentangy Berlin and Thomas Worthington at Oakhaven
Sept. 17 -- Hilliard Bradley at Mentel Memorial
*Sept. 17 -- Home vs. Bradley
*Sept. 17 -- At Bradley
Sept. 21 -- At Big Walnut
Sept. 16 -- Home vs. Watkins Mem-orial
Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
*Sept. 17 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto
*Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington