In the topsy-turvy world of high school golf, one week you’re on top, and the next you’re not.
After winning the East Div. I sectional title at Cambridge Country Club in somewhat of a shocker, the West Holmes Knights played well at the district meet at EagleSticks Golf Club in Zanesville on Tuesday, Oct. 9 but could only manage a fifth-place finish in a tight field.
Meanwhile the Dover Tornadoes, who qualified in the third and final spot out of sectionals, went on to win the district crown and qualify for state.
Dover fired a 328 to win the Div. I East/Southeast district championship and a trip to the state tournament. The Crimson Tornadoes edged Tri-Valley, which shot a 330, while the Knights were right in the thick of the hunt, coming in at 341.
“We were all bunched up together at the front, and it was anyone’s game,” said West Holmes head coach Isaac Haver, whose team won the school’s first-ever sectional title in the tournament run. “Going into this, we felt like we could be right there if we relaxed and played our game. Seeing Dover win it all doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. I felt like they were probably better than what they showed at sectionals, and they played well here and deserved it.”
The Knights shot a 165 on the front side, then fell off a bit and came home on the back nine holes with a 176. It was a solid round for West Holmes, but it simply wasn’t enough.
“We were only 13 off the pace, and it was super-competitive all day long,” Haver said. “We really didn’t think the pressure was on us because nobody expected us to be there anyway, so we talked about going in relaxed, playing our game and not getting wrapped up in what everyone else was shooting. I thought we went in and competed very well on a challenging course.”
Haver said it took his crew a little bit of time to get used to greens that were very fast, and they adjusted and moved forward quickly.
He said for the most part his kids managed their respective games well with nobody falling apart and all handling the pressure fairly well. Senior Carter Hahn led the Knights with a 78. Senior Evan Yoder followed with an 81, and freshman Hunter Ellis had an 88 while senior Brett Mirich carded a 94.
“There was no panic, and I thought we controlled everything we could control, and each kid competed until the end,” Haver said. “We did everything within our power, but in the end we came up just a little bit short.”
Hahn has been playing so well as of late that whether or not the Knights qualified as a team, he had thoughts of grabbing the one individual spot that would qualify the medalist for state. He got close, his 78 trailing Maysville’s Luke Morrow, who moved on to Columbus with a 73, and Sheridan’s Costa Coconis, who earned district runner-up honors with a 76.
Haver said they talked about what it would take to earn medalist honors, and they felt something between 73 and 75 would do the trick. It turned out they were right, but Hahn had one bad hole, a triple-bogey on the ninth hole that put him in a precarious spot.
“Other than that, Carter played really well,” Haver said. “He got a little aggressive on that hole, and it bit him.”
Haver said Yoder continued to play to his strength, which is being consistent, and his other senior, Mirich, overcame a difficult front side and improved five shots on his second nine.
“It was nice to see Bret have that not-gonna-give-up mentality and play it all the way through,” Haver said of Mirich. “And Evan is just so consistent with his game. These three seniors are terrific examples of what every coach would love to have on their team in terms of leaders and just good, young men.”
While Gavin Christine limped home with a 97, Ellis came through with an impressive round to keep the Knights close.
“He shot a 40 on the front side, which shows you exactly what kind of talent he has,” Haver said of his freshman. “He struggled a bit on the back, but for his first time in playing under this circumstance in a district tournament, he handled himself well, as did all of our kids. I looked at the kids all day and never saw defeat, and they were giving it their all, so I couldn’t be happier for them. We gave everything we could, and I can live with that.”
Haver said this was a record-setting year for the Knights, and the team’s attitude and effort made it possible. He also praised assistant coach Pat Miller for stepping in and adding a great deal of knowledge and support throughout the season.
“These guys will return home to West Holmes over the years and see the banner with the school’s first sectional golf title hanging in the gym, and they can take great pride in that because they deserve it,” Haver said.
Dover was paced by junior Gabe Miller and senior Micah Smith, who carded matching 79s, while sophomore Reese Klar added an 83 and junior Cameron Spraggins added an 87. Dover will play at the state tournament at the Ohio State University in Columbus on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 19-20.