Pickerington North Roundup: Carson Bellish learning from rare struggles on course
For as much as Pickerington North boys golfer Carson Bellish has accomplished in almost three prep seasons, it has taken the junior standout time to come to terms with something he normally despises.
"It sounds funny,but I'm starting to love failing," said Bellish, a Division I state qualifier as a sophomore. "There's a lot to learn. This (high school) stage isn't huge, so failing isn't the end of things. I feel like it's better to learn things now.
"I've only had a couple bad rounds this year but those have been my best tournaments because after that, something will just click."
Those bad rounds have been few and far between.
Bellish, who tied for 27th at state last year and has been one of the Panthers' top five since the beginning of his freshman season, averaged 71.5 in the four rounds of the OCC-Ohio Division tournament and earned league Player of the Year honors.
Only Hilliard Davidson's Zach Burton, also a junior, had a better average -- 71.25 -- in any of the five OCC league tournaments.
Bellish averaged 78.75 in OCC-Ohio play as a freshman and 76.25 as a sophomore, shot 70 at district last year to tie for first place and advance to state as medalist from a playoff. He carded a 160 at state with two rounds of 80.
He also earned four top-three finishes and one win in GolfWeek Junior Tour events this summer and shot a 65 in tryouts at Turnberry.
"It's his drive to get better. You will not show me very many kids who work harder than him," coach Steve Schill said. "He went through a stretch where he had seven competitive rounds in a row under par and then (earlier this month), he went 77 (on Sept. 5 in Bexley's Bob Darwin Memorial Invitational at Westchester), 70 and 75, which most kids would be happy with. He's trying to get better for the end of the year."
Schill struggled to name a particular strength for Bellish, but said putting - which Bellish called "the best skill I have" - has been an emphasis.
"If you want to be the man, you have to bring it every day," Schill said. "My challenge to him is to play clean."
Teammate Tyler Brockwell, who has been North's No. 2 player much of the season and shot a 70 on Sept. 5, called Bellish "the glue" of the team.
"If we have a breakdown or fall apart, he'll be the guy who holds us all together," Brockwell said. "With his scores and how long he's been playing, he gives me advice about my swing and different aspects of the game, how I need to approach this or that. He gives me everything I need to succeed."
Even with his achievements, Bellish is relying on an analytical approach to do even more going forward.
"I don't think the successes last year have defined where I can truly be by the end of the year," he said. "The biggest thing this year is I've learned a lot from my failures. I've reevaluated after every tournament what I've done, what's been good and bad. I'm happy with where I am, but I know I have a lot more."
Football team gets boost from Gilbert
The football team has been in a state of flux at quarterback following the addition of senior Jaylen Gilbert beginning in Week 2, but the Panthers have not struggled to score.
After a 35-9 loss to Pickerington Central on Aug. 30, North followed with victories over Westerville Central (34-20 on Sept. 4), Westland (59-6 on Sept. 11) and Grove City (47-24 on Sept. 18) to improve to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Ohio.
Gilbert's addition immediately added a wrinkle to an attack that has been led by Idris Lawrence Jr. and Dawaun Green, both of whom have been averaging 6 yards per carry for an offense that has run it about three-fourths of the time.
Gilbert rushed for a combined 74 yards and one touchdown on seven carries during his first two games and then was 15-for-17 passing for 180 yards with a touchdown to Marquise Scott against Grove City.
Gilbert and Scott had been teammates at Centennial before transferring to North in late August, when City League teams still had not returned to action.
Senior Jared Knight, a transfer from Grove City who threw for one touchdown over the first three weeks, also has been seeing regular snaps at quarterback.
Sophomore Adam Sandler provides further depth at the position.
The increased focus on the running game is a slight departure from last season, when the Panthers ran on around 60 percent of their offensive snaps.
Girls golfers prep for postseason
With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, the girls golf team is focusing on consistency and maintaining the form that has led it to two tournament wins entering the week and a tie for second in the OCC-Ohio.
"Right now, it's all about consistency," coach Nate Weibush said. "We can't have 30- or 40-shot swings between rounds. I think we'll get there. We've seen that (strong play) already this year.
"Kendall Burton has been hitting the ball outstanding the past few weeks and Reagan (Norton) is in a groove. Cassie Tasney, she's dialed in like she always is."
Tasney's three best scores in the four-round league tournament averaged 77, enough for the senior to earn first-team all-league and finish second individually to Grove City's Lizzie Saur (73.7), a returning Division I state qualifier.
Ella Bertke and Burton (both 88.3) and Norton (90) were second-team all-league.
North finished first in the season-opening North Union Invitational on Aug. 5 at Mill Creek and Dresden Tri-Valley's Lady Dawg Invitational on Aug. 20 at Eaglesticks.
The Panthers went 13-7 in the OCC-Ohio to tie Gahanna for second behind Grove City (20-0), but were hampered in the standings by a round in which illness limited them to three scores.
The Division I postseason draw was Sept. 20. Sectional tournaments are Oct. 6, followed by district seven days later.
"I think there's a handful of teams that are pretty much locks to get to district and then a group of several of us who will be competing for those other berths," Weibush said. "If we play well, we can get there."