Columbus Academy Roundup Boys golfers looking to continue title run

FRANK DIRENNA
fdirenna@thisweeknews.com
Junior Russell Ahmed is among the top returnees for the Columbus Academy boys golf team, which seeks its fourth consecutive state championship. Ahmed was first-team all-state in Division II last season.

Despite losing four key players to graduation, the goals haven't changed for the Columbus Academy boys golf team.

The Vikings are aiming for their fourth consecutive state title, with three returning golfers expected to play major roles.

Those returnees are juniors Russell Ahmed and Aditya Reddy and sophomore Steven Ma. Ahmed was first-team all-state in Division II last season, shooting a 151 to finish in a three-way tie for second at state as the Vikings (615) easily outdistanced runner-up Kettering Alter (644) at NorthStar.

"Our goals are not going to change," Reddy said. "Our kids are just really dedicated to the game. It drives us every day to keep working harder and harder to reach that goal of a state championship again."

Academy opened Aug. 5 by finishing first in the MSL-Ohio Division preseason tournament at Westchester for the fifth consecutive season and sixth time in seven seasons. The Vikings (300) finished ahead of Bexley (309), Worthington Christian (321) and Buckeye Valley (356) as Ma and Reddy tied for third (74) to lead the way.

Junior Jake Stouffer (75), Ahmed (77), sophomore Arvind Rajagopalan (84) and freshman Matthew Fang (87) also competed.

"It's a good way to start the season," seventh-year coach Craig Yakscoe said. "We thought our kids played very well. (Shooting 300) is a solid score, at the beginning of the season especially. We like it a lot."

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

"Coming into (Aug. 5) our goal was to win, and we got it done," Reddy said. "Our goal is to win the next two."

While the season features a different nucleus of players, Yakscoe said his program uses past seasons as motivation.

"We really haven't talked about (last season) yet," he said.

"In one respect, it's behind us. In another respect, it's something to build on. We're shooting for another (state title); no reason not to."

Key graduation losses include Matthew Cammeyer, who was first-team all-state by shooting a 151 and Ali Khan, who was second-team all-state by shooting a 155. Other key losses were Kahmar Byers and Griffin Mitchell.

"We will certainly miss those guys, but these guys over the spring and summer have put in the work and the effort," Yakscoe said.

"It showed (Aug. 5). We'll just build from here. I look at each year as its own beginning, its own journey."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

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At a glance

BOYS GOLF

*Coach: Craig Yakscoe, seventh season

*Top players: Russell Ahmed, Steven Ma and Aditya Reddy

*Key losses: Kahmar Byers, Matthew Cammeyer, Ali Khan and Griffin Mitchell

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

*2019 postseason: First at district, first at state