Groveport Madison boys golfers Price and Ricky Cooper have one more chance this season to accomplish their top goal of shooting under 100 for an 18-hole match, and that will come in a Division I sectional tournament Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Denison Golf Club.
The brothers draw some motivation from the fact that their scores have decreased considerably the past two months, but they aren't resting on past performance.
The Coopers, both of whom play other sports, have become more resourceful when it comes to improving on the course. Not only do they work with The Links at Groveport pro Larry Marshall in addition to team practices and competitions, but they are adamant that film study is partly responsible for their progress.
"Whenever (Marshall) is with us on the range or looking at our swing, he always wants to take video of what we're doing and then we'll look at that and he'll tell us how to fix it," said Ricky Cooper, a senior. "At the beginning of the season, I was really bending down. My back would come forward as I would bring the club back into my swing. Now I'm trying to stand level and stay tall. I'm already 6-foot-4 so it's hard for me to get taller than that, but I just have to stay tall on my backswing and keep my balance throughout and shift my weight through."
Ricky Cooper trimmed 22 shots off his score in a two-week span, as he shot a 125 in the third round of the OCC-Capital Division tournament Aug. 28 at Turnberry and a 103 in the fourth and final round Sept. 11 at Apple Valley. His best nine-hole score entering the week was a 54, which he shot Sept. 4 against Central Crossing at Mentel Memorial and again Sept. 18 against the Comets at The Links at Groveport.
Price Cooper, a sophomore, carded a 43 on Sept. 4 at Mentel Memorial and a 101 seven days later at Apple Valley after shooting a 117 on Aug. 28 at Turnberry.
"I've really improved," he said. "My chipping, especially, has been pretty good, just getting close to the hole and leaving myself either one or two putts."
Golf keeps both brothers busy during the fall. In the winter, Price is a shooting guard and Ricky is a center for the boys basketball team, and Price also plays several positions, including third base, for the baseball team in the spring.
"Their improvement comes from repetition. We've been to the range quite a bit and we've been able to get out on the course and play some balls," coach Joe Rinkes said. "Overall, all the guys have just been working hard and hitting balls. Strokes have come down tremendously.
"They're interested in their swing. They want video of their swing. They're starting to take a little more pride in how they are hitting the ball. That's great to see. I've had that with a few guys here, but not a lot."
Boys soccer team prepares for Eagles
Off to a 2-0 start in the OCC-Capital, the boys soccer team is preparing for what coach Tyler Gleason said "will be a monumental night for the program" Tuesday, Oct. 1, when the Cruisers visit three-time defending league champion New Albany.
Groveport dropped to 8-2-1 overall with a 6-0 loss to Pickerington North on Sept. 21, after which it had nine days off from games before taking on the Eagles.
The Cruisers began last week with a 1-0 win over visiting Canal Winchester on Sept. 17 and followed that up two nights later with a dramatic 3-1 home win over Whitehall in which they scored all of their goals in the last 15 minutes.
Austin Snyder scored the only goal against the Indians, whom the Cruisers defeated for the first time since 2011, and had a team-leading 16 goals through nine games.
"Our next big hurdle is New Albany," Gleason said. "We are by no means even close to where we want to be, but we are finding results. ... Our midfield has grown and is a strength for our team. Melvin Escamilla, Austin Snyder and Jeffrey Asamoah have been steadily getting better at understanding their role and bringing a sort of continuity and calming sense to our team. They've really allowed us to create an identity.
"(Against Canal Winchester,) we had our second-leading scorer (L.J. Minah, who had 12 goals through nine games) out, as well as one of our more dynamic wingers (Edward Olusemo) and one other starter (David Pascua). So it speaks a lot to our midfield and team in general to be able to grind out a tough win against a team that has historically been better than us without three starters."
Gleason said the coaching staff also has emphasized mental toughness as the Cruisers approach the final two weeks of the regular season. Their visit to New Albany is the first of four games in 10 days, three of which are in the OCC-Capital.
"(We need to) be physically and mentally tough and not become ball watchers in the middle of games, (but instead be) more dynamic off of the ball," Gleason said. "We are trying to stress the emphasis that it's midseason and we are all banged up. Sometimes we just have to play through that pain. That means being mentally strong enough to be laser-focused when we are tired and hurting."
Girls tennis team earns first victory
The girls tennis team got its first win Sept. 17, edging host Franklin Heights 3-2 in its final OCC-Capital match of the year.
Posting wins against the Falcons were Cassie Salva at first singles (6-2, 6-1), Jillian Caldwell at second singles (6-3, 3-6, 6-1) and Mama Bintou Tunkara at third singles (1-6, 6-2, 6-2).
The Cruisers were 1-10 overall before playing Hartley on Sept. 24 and finished 1-4 in the league.
Below are the coming schedules for the Groveport Madison cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 28 -- Rick Mettle Invitational at Walnut Ridge
Sept. 30 -- Bloom-Carroll at The Links at Groveport
Oct. 1 -- Division I sectional at Denison Golf Club. Top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district tournament Oct. 8 at Apple Valley.
*Oct. 1 -- At New Albany
Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Northland
Oct. 1 -- Home vs. Licking Heights
Sept. 30 -- At Hamilton Township
*Sept. 26 -- Home vs. New Albany. The Cruisers lost to the Eagles 25-16, 25-14, 25-7 on Sept. 10.
Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Whetstone
Sept. 30 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg