Gahanna Lincoln Roundup: Boys golf squad primed for season

JARROD ULREY
julrey@thisweeknews.com
Junior Evan Henry returns for the Gahanna Lincoln boys golf team, which finished fourth of 20 teams in the Pickerington Central Invitational on Aug. 5 at Turnberry.

Gahanna Lincoln boys golf coach Judy Ratzenberger already has seen examples of the leadership her team possesses this season.

After it was announced in late July that the school district would begin the year by doing remote learning, athletics were put on a temporary pause and the first day of tryouts, which had been scheduled for Aug. 1, was canceled.

The golf program was reinstated Aug. 3 and had its tryouts started a day later, but it wasn't the only time the players got together before the season started.

"When we found out we probably weren't going to have a season, we knew we had tee times at Denison (Golf Club on Aug. 1)," said Ratzenberger, who co-coaches the team with Lori Scott. "The captains got together, organized all the boys and went out and proceeded to go to Denison. They emailed us their scorecards. It was great leadership."

On Aug. 5 in the Pickerington Central Invitational at Turnberry, the Lions finished fourth (312) of 20 teams behind champion Central (298). Gahanna also entered its varsity B team to help determine its lineup because it had only one day of practice.

The top two returnees are seniors Max Hahn and Mitchell Soma, who finished third (71) and tied for fourth (72), respectively, in the Central Invitational.

Last season, Soma shot 70 in the Division I district tournament to share medalist honors with Westerville Central's Josh Qian and Pickerington North's Carson Bellish. Only the top two individuals advanced to state, with Bellish winning the first playoff hole and Qian defeating Soma head-to-head on the second hole.

Gahanna's only senior last season was Dylan Errington, who tied for seventh (73) at district.

The other returnees are juniors Evan Henry and Kyle Lark.

Sophomore Matt Boucher played in the No. 5 spot in the Central Invitational.

Senior Cooper Solomon and sophomores Caleb Mason and Eli Orkis are others who could see varsity time.

Gahanna finished fourth (325) in the first round of the OCC-Ohio Division tournament Aug. 6 at Darby Creek behind first-place Grove City (302). After finishing third (13-7) in the league last season behind Pickerington Central (16-4) and Grove City (14-6), the Lions and Greyhounds are joined in the league this year by New Albany, Pickerington North, Westland and Westerville Central.

The second round of the league tournament was Aug. 12 at Apple Valley. The other rounds are Aug. 26 at Turnberry and Sept. 9 at Denison Golf Club.

"There's a world of difference in having confidence between last year and this year and playing in tournaments," Scott said. "They're very prepared. Our word for the season is that we're grateful that we're out here. We're so happy that they're getting the opportunity to play."

Girls golf squad returns strong group

Members of the girls golf team did their best not to let the uncertainty of the past few weeks get the better of them emotionally.

"I found out at noon (Aug. 3) that we had the go-ahead (to have tryouts)," coach Chase Huddle said. "We were supposed to have tryouts at 9 a.m. (Aug. 3) and a practice on the Saturday before that, so it's been a roller-coaster of emotions. I keep stressing that it is what it is and we're happy to have a season and ready to move forward. No excuses."

The Lions opened OCC-Ohio action Aug. 12 at Blacklick Woods, and they will compete in the second round of league play Wednesday, Aug. 19, at Royal American. The other two rounds of the league tournament are Aug. 26 at New Albany Links and Sept. 2 at Mentel Memorial.

Gahanna has returned four players from last season after it finished third (13-7) in the OCC-Ohio behind champion Grove City (18-2).

The top returnee is senior Elise Wenz, who shot 89 in a Division I sectional and averaged 82.7 in the four rounds of the OCC-Ohio tournament to earn first-team all-league honors.

Junior Molly Cepek shot 95 at sectional and averaged 93 in the league, and junior Taylor Patterson shot 97 at sectional and averaged 94 in the league. Both made second-team all-league.

Sophomore Cee Cee Holmes returns after earning honorable mention all-league honors.

Senior Ummehani Motiwala and junior Rose Zeigler round out the varsity lineup, and Casey Bare is the other senior. Motiwala split time last season between junior varsity and varsity.

"It's one of those things where we could always get better and there's room for improvement, but I had three girls shoot in the low 80s (during one of the rounds of tryouts) and that was with rain and not the greatest conditions," Huddle said.

"I have three other girls shooting in the 90s and four if you include one of my freshmen, so we're going to be a competitive team. We might not have the overall champion in a tournament, but we're going to be there with consistency. We're really looking forward to seeing what these girls can do when the lights are on."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

At a glance

BOYS GOLF

*Coaches: Judy Ratzenberger and Lori Scott, 12th seasons

*Top players: Matt Boucher, Max Hahn, Evan Henry, Kyle Lark and Mitchell Soma

*Key loss: Dylan Errington

*2019 OCC-Ohio standings: Pickerington Central (16-4), Grove City (14-6), Gahanna (13-7), Pickerington North (13-7), Lancaster (4-16), Reynoldsburg (0-20)

*2019 postseason: Fourth at sectional, ninth at district

GIRLS GOLF

*Coach: Chase Huddle, third season

*Top players: Molly Cepek, Cee Cee Holmes, Ummehani Motiwala, Taylor Patterson, Elise Wenz and Rose Zeigler

*Key losses: Alexis Buck and Alexis Harris

*2019 OCC-Ohio standings: Grove City (18-2), Pickerington North (16-4), Gahanna (13-7), Pickerington Central (9-11), Big Walnut (4-16), Lancaster (0-20)

*2019 postseason: Sixth at sectional

Junior Taylor Patterson is among the returnees for the Gahanna Lincoln girls golf team after making second-team all-league last season.