Columbus Academy Roundup: Boys golf team captures fourth consecutive state title

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Columbus Academy sophomore Stephen Ma was the individual medalist in the Division II state tournament, leading the Vikings to their fourth consecutive state championship Oct. 17 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.

Columbus Academy boys golf coach Craig Yakscoe considers his team to be like a close-knit family, and that dynamic sparked another dominant performance in the Division II state tournament.

The Vikings led by 15 shots after the first round Oct. 16 and cruised to their fourth consecutive state title Oct. 17 at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course.

Academy finished with a 615 to easily outdistance runner-up Kettering Alter (629) in a 12-team field.

“I’m real impressed with the effort, the energy and the time that they put in as players,” Yakscoe said. “They all work with their own swing coaches and I thank them too for the time the coaches put in with them. All of us together, it’s a family. It’s a village. It brings it all together and this is the result. It’s kind of cool.”

Academy held a 300-315 lead over Alter heading into the final round.

The team title wasn't the only championship for the Vikings as sophomore Stephen Ma was the individual medalist among 72 golfers by shooting a two-day total of 144. Ma also was first-team all-state.

Junior Russell Ahmed shot 155 to place 11th. He was second-team all-state.

“I’m just grateful to be a part of this,” Ahmed said. “I didn’t play my best golf this week, but it was enough to support the team. Whatever the team needs is my mindset. There’s a lot to work on, but I really was fortunate to be a part of this.”

Juniors Aditya Reddy (156, tied for 12th) and Jake Stouffer (162, 19th) and sophomore Arvind Rajagopalan (170, tied for 37th) also competed.

“This program is great,” Reddy said. “We have a lot of depth and our (No.) 1 man, Stephen Ma, came in with an individual state title.”

It's the Vikings’ 11th state title, which is second all-time to Upper Arlington’s 17.

“As a team, you were phenomenal,” Yakscoe told his players after the tournament. “Maybe individually you didn’t play the way you wanted to or didn’t have the hit that you wanted to, but we’re state champions. There has to be some satisfaction and if you guys aren’t satisfied with that, I can’t help you out. On top of that, four in a row — you guys are part of this. The alums were part of it.”

With no seniors in the varsity lineup, Academy should return the same group next season.

“We’ll have the exact same team next year, so we’re liking our chances already,” Ahmed said. 

Before sweeping through the postseason by winning sectional, district and state titles, the Vikings finished first in the three-round MSL-Ohio Division tournament at 14-0 for their fifth consecutive league title.

Reddy was league Player of the Year. Ahmed and Ma also were first-team all-league and Rajagopalan, Stouffer and freshman Matthew Fang were second-team all-league.

Ratliff earns return

trip to state tourney

Sydni Ratliff of the girls tennis team will be seeking her second consecutive state singles title when she competes in the Division II state tournament Friday, Oct. 23, and Saturday, Oct. 24, at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.

Ratliff earned her fourth consecutive state berth by beating teammate Arya Chabria 6-1, 6-0 in the district final Oct. 17 at Academy.

“It’s such a privilege to play with everybody and try to play 100 percent,” Ratliff said. “I’m looking forward to playing some tough competition and hopefully get the title again.”

Seniors Lauren Motta and Carolyn Tsung lost to Wellington’s Alexis Burkhalter and Katie Zerbi 6-4, 6-1 in the doubles final at district, falling short of a state berth.

Last season, Ratliff defeated Gates Mills Gilmour Academy’s Carly Cohen 6-4, 7-5 to win the Vikings’ first state title in singles.

Ratliff, who has committed to Ohio State, reached the state final in her sophomore and freshman seasons, losing both times to Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown’s Nicole Gillinov.

“Sydni is getting better,” coach Marc Wurtzman said. “She just knows her style of play. She works hard in practice every day. She’s really matured on the courts. Every match she fights for every point, every game, every set. She’s very hard to beat because she’s not going to give you an inch out there. She’s going to be fighting and giving it all to the end.”

Academy, which is 15-1, will compete in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division II state team tournament Sunday, Oct. 25, at Reynoldsburg. It is the Vikings’ fourth consecutive state berth.

Last season, Academy lost to Cincinnati Indian Hill 3-1 in a semifinal before defeating Toledo Central Catholic 3-1 in the third-place match.

“I’m really looking forward to that,” Ratliff said. “We’re in a really good position with our team right now, so that’s what I’m really focusing on this year, getting my team together and hopefully we can pull out a team state title.”

Mya Falkenhain and Academy earned the top seed for the district tournament. The Vikings entered the postseason seeking their third consecutive state title and 13th overall.

Field hockey team

earns top seed

The top-seeded field hockey team began its quest for a third consecutive state title and 13th overall when it played 18th-seeded Dublin Coffman in a district quarterfinal Oct. 20.

The winner plays seventh-seeded Olentangy Liberty or eighth-seeded Olentangy in a semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Academy defeated Liberty 5-0 on Aug. 29.

The district final is Oct. 31.

“You’re happy, but you don’t know,” coach Anne Horton said of earning the top seed. “You’re at the mercy of people’s opinion of how you were when you played them. You feel like you’re trying to take care of business and you hope that it works out for you. There’s definitely no guarantee. I was definitely happy with the outcome.”

Academy entered the postseason at 15-1, with the loss coming against Watterson 3-1 on Sept. 9. The Vikings had won nine consecutive games before playing the Shamrocks.

Regan Cornelius scored in a 1-0 win over Bexley on Oct. 14 in the regular-season finale.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

BOYS GOLF

MSL-Ohio standings: Academy (14-0), Bexley (11-3), Worthington Christian (8-6), Buckeye Valley (5-9), Wellington (2-12), Grandview (0-10)

Seniors lost: Jake Podgurski and Hanrui Xu

Key returnees: Russell Ahmed, Stephen Ma and Aditya Reddy

Postseason: First at sectional (310), first at district (305), first at state (615)