Bennett Zeitner felt some pressure and responsibility entering this season to lead the Olentangy boys golf team, given that he was the only returnee from last year's top five.
Detailed adjustments to his swing, not to mention copious preparation for each course on which he plays, have paid off all season in the form of scores in the low to mid-70s. Last year, Zeitner typically shot in the high 70s to low 80s.
"I've always been a straight hitter, (but) I just never necessarily hit the ball a long way. I found a swing that is repetitive and consistent," said Zeitner, a senior. "I get my hands higher on my backswing to generate power. I'm getting more distance and consistency. I can drive 260 or 270 (yards) on a good day, and last year I was hitting it 240 to 245.
"My dad (Brookside head pro Brad Zeitner) and I are going to courses I've played before for practice rounds because my game is different now. I'll see where the ball lands and take notes. Maybe I use a 9-iron now where I might have used a 6-iron before."
Zeitner's average of 75 in the four rounds of the OCC-Buckeye Division tournament -- helped by a 72 in the third round Aug. 27 at Denison Golf Club -- was third among all individuals, behind only Westerville Central's Josh Qian (72) and Liberty's Grant Smeltzer (73.25), and earned him first-team all-league honors.
Zeitner and Tyler Phillips each shot 76 in the final round Sept. 11 at Darby Creek, leading Olentangy to a team score of 322 and third place behind Liberty (290) and Orange (310) and ahead of Central (324), Westerville North (360) and Westerville South (437).
The Braves went 9-11 in the league, fourth behind Liberty (19-1), Orange (17-3) and Central (11-9).
"Bennett's been the key to us being in that 330 or lower range most of the year," coach Joel Glassburn said. "He totally redeveloped his swing and got out of the bad habits he created when his strength just wasn't there. Coming from middle school, guys aren't always strong enough to hit the ball as far as they need to and they tend to develop habits to overcompensate for that. When Bennett got stronger, he still had some habits he needed to change. He was a little flat on his backswing."
Zeitner's best lifetime round entering the week was a 69 during a summer tournament at Turnberry in 2018. He plans to play in college, although he is not sure where and expects to ramp up the recruitment process during the offseason.
"Wherever I go, I'll play golf," Zeitner said.
That confidence is a reflection of the player Glassburn has seen throughout his high school career, which will end one way or another within the next month.
"I don't see him taking his foot off the gas anytime soon," Glassburn said. "That's just not his nature."
Volleyball team falls to Pioneers
The girls volleyball team's four-match winning streak ended Sept. 12 with a 25-7, 25-13, 25-17 loss at state-ranked Orange, but the Braves still took records of 6-5 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Buckeye into a Sept. 17 home match against Liberty.
Sophie Sparks had seven kills and Anna Cecil added four for Olentangy against Orange, which was ranked fifth in the Division I state poll and first in the area coaches poll last week.
Entering the week, the Braves' losses had come against some of the area's more successful teams.
Olentangy fell to DeSales -- which was ranked second in the area last week -- 25-15, 25-21, 21-25, 25-13 on Aug. 31, 10 days after a 25-19, 28-30, 25-22, 23-25, 15-11 loss to Dublin Coffman, which was ranked eighth last week. Another setback, 15-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-23 on Aug. 27 to Big Walnut, came against a Golden Eagles team seeking its 16th OCC-Capital championship in 20 seasons.
Sparks led the Braves in kills with 143 through 11 matches. Sophie Weithman was second with 73.
Madyson Chitty had a team-high 286 digs.
Girls soccer team starts strong
A 2-1 loss at Big Walnut on Sept. 12 was the girls soccer team's first setback in three weeks, and the Braves took records of 5-2-1 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Buckeye into a Sept. 17 game at North.
Kylee Beinecke had seven goals through eight games to lead Olentangy, including two in a 6-0 win at South on Sept. 10 to begin league play. Rachel Austin and Carly Ross each had three goals and Olivia Johnston and Audrey Oliver had two apiece.
The Braves had not lost since a 0-2 start, which consisted of setbacks at Marysville (1-0 on Aug. 20) and Grove City (2-1 on Aug. 22).
Below are the coming schedules for the Olentangy cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 21 -- Celtic Clash at Dublin Jerome
*Sept. 25 -- At Thomas Worthington
Sept. 24 -- Liberty at Oakhaven
Sept. 19 -- Westerville Central at Oakhaven
Sept. 21 -- Marysville Invitational at Darby Creek
Sept. 23 -- Buckeye Valley at Oakhaven
Sept. 24 -- Westerville Central at Royal American
*Sept. 24 -- At Westerville Central
Sept. 19 -- At Upper Arlington
Sept. 21 -- Home vs. Lexington
*Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
*Sept. 23 -- Home vs. Westerville North in makeup from Aug. 27
Sept. 24 -- At Dublin Coffman
Sept. 25 -- At New Albany
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Westerville South. The Braves defeated the Wildcats 25-6, 25-14, 25-15 on Sept. 3.
*Sept. 24 -- At Westerville North. The Braves defeated the Warriors 25-12, 25-19, 22-25, 25-23 on Sept. 5.