As the DeSales boys golf team's top two competitors, seniors Michael Cummins and Andrew Connor have shared many rounds this season.
Cummins is in his second season as the Stallions' No. 1 golfer, and Connor does not have to think long about why that is the case.
"He has a great mentality, a great mindset every time he goes out and plays," Connor said. "He's always thinking about what shots will achieve getting par on every hole. His short game is great. He has a knack for looking ahead."
Despite his deliberate approach, Cummins was not sure he foresaw a decrease of six strokes in his average since last season. The fourth-year varsity player was averaging 76 per 18 holes entering the week to pace the Stallions, who finished third (355) in the CCL postseason tournament Sept. 22 at Denison Golf Club behind St. Charles (323) and Watterson (327) and ahead of Hartley (365) and Ready (400).
DeSales will compete in a Division I sectional Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Darby Creek, where the top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 8 at Apple Valley.
"I worked a lot this winter on my swing and became much more consistent. My putting is a lot better and my drive is better," said Cummins, whose drives can reach 300 yards. "And I'm just playing smart golf. (My) course management is a lot better.
"(The season has) gone very well. Everything has improved."
Cummins' best 18-hole round came Aug. 13, when he shot a 71 at Oakhaven during a tri-match against Buckeye Valley and Delaware. He shot an 80 to lead the Stallions in the CCL postseason tournament.
"He has a quiet confidence about him. He's an easily coachable kid," coach Tony Pinson said. "He puts his head down and puts in the hard work. It shows every time he gets on the course. In the last two years, I don't think we've ever not counted his score. In this game, that's really saying something. Everyone has off days and Michael does have days where he's disappointed in his score, but he always fights through and makes sure he scores as low as he can."
Connor credited Cummins with helping him add approximately 20 yards to his drive, which now averages about 270 yards.
"He's helped me out a lot, especially over this past winter. We went out to The Range in Dublin and practiced a lot," Connor said. "He helped me a lot with my driver. I struggled with that last year because I kept hooking it a lot, but this year I've hit it much better with a good fade."
Cummins comes from an athletic family. His parents, Mike and Rebecca, met at John Carroll while they were on the golf and volleyball teams, respectively.
His sister Anne Marie, a 2015 DeSales graduate, was a three-team state qualifier in swimming and his sister Maureen, a 2017 DeSales graduate, qualified for state twice in swimming. Both went on to swim at Xavier.
"We all have a pretty good work ethic," said Cummins, who is considering several colleges, including Dayton, John Carroll, Loyola-Chicago and Miami University. "We just work hard and work at our sport and hopefully it pays off."
Pinson is convinced that Cummins still has not performed at his best.
"He still has a lot of upside, a lot of potential," Pinson said. "... He has not reached the limit to his potential yet."
Girls volleyball team clinches CCL title
The girls volleyball team won its seventh CCL championship in eight seasons Sept. 17 when it swept host Ready 25-14, 25-15, 25-12, although a 24-26, 25-23, 25-23, 20-25, 15-10 loss at Hartley two nights later prevented DeSales from finishing unbeaten in league play.
The Stallions, who will compete in the Block and Gold Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Perrysburg, are 12-2 overall and finished 5-1 in the CCL.
Avery Boyd and Maryanne Boyle each had eight kills against the Hawks. Bella D'Amico had 34 assists and Bridget Javitch had 10 digs.
Tennis team places second in CCL
Despite falling short of its first CCL championship in 11 years, the girls tennis team entered this week trying to build on its best season since 2008.
DeSales finished 2-1 in the league with a 5-0 loss to Watterson on Sept. 17 at Park of Roses, but rebounded to post 5-0 wins at Worthington Kilbourne the next day and Big Walnut on Sept 19.
The Stallions were 13-1 overall, their most wins since 2008, before playing Grove City on Sept. 24.
DeSales, which finished second in the CCL behind Watterson (3-0), was seeking its fourth league title. The others came in 2006 and 1996.
Freshman pacing girls runners
Freshman Josie Dages has been the girls cross country team's top runner in each of its five meets this season and broke 21 minutes for the first time Sept. 21, finishing 11th in 20 minutes, 58.5 seconds in the Tiger Invitational at Pickerington Central.
Coach Ben McGinnis said he already sees similarities between Dages and John Shoemaker, a senior who has maintained the top spot on the boys team all season and is seeking his second consecutive Division II regional berth.
"Josie was worried in the beginning (Sept. 21) that she went out too fast, but she's really learning how to adapt to how the older girls run these races," McGinnis said.
"She's healthy, fit, quiet and steady. She's similar to John in that way. They're quiet and steady and they're both hard workers."
The girls team scored 133 points at Central to finish sixth of seven teams as Gahanna won (46). Also scoring were Bre Callahan (20th, 21:38.1), Megan Shuey (32nd, 22:33.2), Audrey Callahan (40th, 23:02.2) and Cate Leithauser (41st, 23:10.8).
Shoemaker placed sixth in the Tiger Invitational in a personal-best 16:31.5 to lead the boys team to 173 points and seventh place of nine teams, behind champion Gahanna (41). He was followed by Isaiah Rush (36th, 18:13.1), Aidan Shannon (43rd, 18:26.4), Brendan Lackey (46th, 18:28.2) and Adam Weithman (48th, 18:37.4).
Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales cross country, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 28 -- Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club
Oct. 1 -- Division I sectional at Mentel Memorial. Top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 8 at New Albany Links.
Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Bay Village Bay
*Oct. 1 -- At Ready
Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne
Oct. 1 -- At Dublin Scioto
Sept. 26 -- Reynoldsburg at Park of Roses
Sept. 30 -- At Westerville Central
Oct. 1 -- At Worthington Christian
Sept. 28 -- Block and Gold Invitational at Perrysburg
Sept. 30 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central