Boys Golf: Bexley aiming for district tourney berth

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Senior Reece Yakubov is among the top players returning for the St. Charles golf team and seventh-year coach Brian Unk. The Cardinals won the
10-team Olentangy Liberty Preview Aug. 5 at Delaware Golf Club to open the season.

Coach Jimmy Ryan expects his Bexley boys golf team to fare well in league play, but that's just preparation for the Lions' primary goal: qualifying for the district tournament.

The Lions finished third (6-6) in the MSL-Ohio Division last fall behind Division II state champion Columbus Academy (12-0) and Division III state runner-up Wellington (8-4). However, they were sixth (329) in a Division I sectional at Denison Golf Club as the top four advanced to district at Apple Valley.

"Division I is a lot tougher (than Division II)," said Ryan, who is in his 18th season. "We went from having the (Division II) district Player of the Year eight of 10 seasons to not having one all-district player last year.

"We have 270 boys (in our school) and are going up against schools with 1,300. When you have that, the odds of success go down rapidly. If we qualify for district that would be a great season. That's our goal."

The Lions have four seniors leading the way in Lee Hillman, Will Meyer (second-team all-league), Ethan Thompson and Ricky Walsh (honorable mention all-league).

"They all shot 75 in tryouts, and they are pretty seasoned golfers," Ryan said. "They are all really close (talent-wise), and if they can golf consistently, we should do well."

Thompson said playing as a unit will be important to the Lions' success.

"We have four seniors, which make up most of the varsity," Thompson said. "We have to lead the team in any competition. We have to be one team together instead of being individuals."

Looking to complete the lineup are juniors Rob Meyer, Jacob Schottenstein and Liam Timmons and sophomore Morgan Agriesti.

Bexley opened strongly, finishing second (309) behind Academy (300) in the MSL-Ohio preseason tournament Aug. 5 at Westchester. Worthington Christian (321) and Buckeye Valley (356) also participated.

Will Meyer (74) was third overall behind Worthington Christian's Sam Evans (72) and Ben Evans (73). Thompson (77), Walsh (78) and Rob Meyer (80) also scored.

The midseason tournament is Aug. 29 at Turnberry and the postseason event is Sept. 23 at Denison Golf Club.

Deep lineup should propel Cardinals

Depth could be a key component to the success of St. Charles, according to seventh-year coach Brian Unk.

"I think more than any other season since I started, I don't feel we are relying on one guy," Unk said. "I wouldn't be surprised if anyone was (our) low (score) on any given day. They all have shot under par and shot par, and we have some good depth this year."

Four of the top five players are seniors in Luke Gutman, Jake Lowis, Reece Yakubov and Jason Zehala. The other is junior Brandon Nowery, who only played the first half of last season because of OHSAA transfer rules. He previously attended Worthington Christian.

Senior Josh Thomas, junior Tommy Donnelly, sophomore Will Mooney and freshman Leo Walling are looking to work into the lineup.

"We don't have a huge difference in our Nos. 1-7," Unk said. "They are all pretty close. All seven can shoot par and be our No. 1."

The Cardinals started by shooting 300 to win the 10-team Olentangy Liberty Preview on Aug. 5 at Delaware Golf Club.

Gutman and Manning tied for medalist honors by shooting 72. Lowis and Nowery both shot 78 and Mooney had an 83.

St. Charles won its 12th consecutive CCL championship last fall. It opens league action with the preseason tournament Wednesday, Aug. 19, at Hickory Hills.

-- Scott Hennen

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Hawks looking to create memories

Senior Andrew Navarro won't trade the memories he and his Hartley teammates will make this season.

If the Hawks show improvement and are competitive, particularly when they play CCL matches, so much the better.

"It feels really good to be back out," Navarro said. "We're all trying to work together as a team. We have pretty good chemistry, but also at the same time we want to work on our individual games and go after the goal of shooting better than we did last year."

Navarro spent most of his summer at golf courses, including working four days a week at New Albany Links.

He leads a veteran lineup filled with upperclassmen.

Andrew Inthavongsone was the only player lost to graduation after he finished seventh in last year's Division II district tournament at Denison Golf Club. The Hawks finished third (357) as only the champion advanced to state.

Junior Cameron Casto had Hartley's second-best score at district with an 87, with Navarro shooting 92. Seniors Colton Ramsey and Dominic Rees are other returnees who represented the Hawks at district.

Hartley opened Aug. 5 by finishing 16th (352) in the 20-team Pickerington Central Invitational at Turnberry behind the champion and host Tigers (298).

"It's going pretty well," Rees said. "We have some high hopes this year. We definitely want to finish second in the CCL and we want to give ourselves some chances in tournaments. We think this year as we get better in the season we could get up there with some other teams. We try to practice all we can and want to do well in tournaments."

Also looking to contribute are seniors Tyler Wood, Mason Casto and Nathan Bentivegna and junior Sam Shisler.

Shawn Wood, who had been coaching the St. Pius X middle school program, took over as coach in the offseason after David Liskowiak stepped down.

"We've got a lot of returning kids," coach Wood said. "We just want to keep improving. We want all the kids just to get better and I think they will the more they keep playing throughout the year. (They hope to) quit wasting strokes and do the best they can."

-- Jarrod Ulrey

sports@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSports

At a glance

BEXLEY

*Coach: Jimmy Ryan, 18th season

*Top players: Lee Hillman, Will Meyer, Ethan Thompson and Ricky Walsh

*Key losses: Tyler Roberts and Micah Rubinstein

*2019 MSL-Ohio standings: Columbus Academy (12-0), Wellington (8-4), Bexley (6-6), Worthington Christian (3-9), Buckeye Valley (1-11)

*2019 postseason: Sixth at sectional

HARTLEY

*Coach: Shawn Wood, first season

*Top players: Cameron Casto, Andrew Navarro, Colton Ramsey, Dominic Rees and Tyler Wood

*Key loss: Andrew Inthavongsone

*2019 CCL standings: St. Charles (8-0), Watterson (6-2), DeSales and Hartley (both 3-5), Ready (0-8)

*2019 postseason: Third at district

ST. CHARLES

*Coach: Brian Unk, seventh season

*Top players: Luke Gutman, Jake Lowis, Brandon Nowery, Reece Yakubov and Jason Zehala

*Key losses: Vince Campagni and Michael Shyu

*2019 CCL standings: St. Charles (8-0), Watterson (6-2), DeSales and Hartley (both 3-5), Ready (0-8)

*2019 postseason: Second at sectional, fourth at district