Last season, Strasburg felt the sting of playing some really good golf at the district level of play, only to have their season come to an end when Hiland played just a tiny bit better to make it to state.
While it doesn’t make up for that loss, the Tigers did get some satisfaction in defeating the Hawks 150-164 at Willandale Golf Course Tuesday, August 30.
Strasburg was led by senior Gino Shupbach, who registered a career-low 34 en route to a blazing round.
“That hurt then and it still stings now,” said Strasburg coach Jeff Willis of the district loss. “So the boys wanted this one pretty bad tonight.”
Even as he was posting the best score of his varsity career, Shupbach couldn’t help but be a little angry with his finish.
After hitting a huge drive and a beautiful approach shot into the par-5 ninth hole, Shupbach had about 20 feet for eagle and a 32. He went for it, but his putt ran past about five feet, and he missed the birdie attempt coming back.
In true competitive fashion, Shupbach said he wasn’t thinking about anything but making that eagle attempt, and did not want to leave it short.
“I wanted to leave it close, but I also wanted to make it,” said Shupbach of the eagle attempt. “I went for it. The best I had shot before this was 36, so I am happy with this.”
Shupbach, playing the number three man, led the Tigers to their stellar score of 150. One and two men Dylan Tucker and Mitch Neidenthal both fashioned 37s, meaning Strasburg had three great scores in their first three men. However, Mike Neidenthal (43), Jarret McKracken (44) and Calvin Willis (42) all shot numbers that were over what they are normally capable of shooting.
“Not to sound greedy, but I’ll take those first three scores any time, but those last three are not up to what those guys are capable of shooting,” said Willis.
Willis said Shupbach shot an “easy” 34, a round which included a nice save for par on No. 5, a near-miss on a good birdie attempt on No. 8 and the three-putt on the ninth.
For Hiland one-man Tremper Coblentz, things were not that easy, but in a sense, he nearly played as well as Shupbach, an oddity since he shot five shots worse with a 39.
However, Coblentz had a major misfire on No. 2, opting to hit a five-iron off the tee, a decision that ignited a series of misfortune that led to a quadruple-bogey eight on the hole.
His tee shot was tugged left, finding weeds, out of which he had to take a drop. His approach shot to the par-4 landed on the embankment beside the green, and his ball kicked down into the water.
It could have been the beginning of a horrendous evening of golf, but instead, Coblentz was able to push that horrendous hole aside and finish the other eight holes at one-under par.
“I thought he was going to go for huge numbers after that, but he settled right down and was able to play his game, and that shows a lot about what he can do,” said Willis.
Coblentz said he knew he couldn’t do anything to change the outcome of what had taken place, so he simply refocused to play his game the rest of the way out, and earned himself a 39, which tied teammate Johnny Mullet for team medalist honors. They were followed by Bruce Yoder’s 42, Claye Hummel’s 45, while Dylan Kaufman added a 45 and Ethan Habeger shot a 50.
“I’m still disappointed in myself for taking the eight, but I am glad I was able to recover the way I did,” said Coblentz. “I just tried to hit shots I knew I could hit.”
Coblentz did that quite well. His next shot following the debacle was a booming drive down the middle, and all was forgotten.
Hiland coach Austin Kaufman said he was proud of Coblentz’ comeback, and added that Mullet played consistently all evening.
However, he said that the early holes put the Hawks in a huge hole from which they could not dig themselves out.
“We got into too many hazards on the first couple of holes, and we normally play those pretty well,” said Kaufman. “Tonight, they got us, and you can’t paly a team like Strasburg and have that kind of start and expect to win.”
Kaufman also said that despite a score that was not exactly a bright spot in the season, this Hawks team is continuing to grow, and he believes his team is capable of shooting in the mid-150s.
On most nights, that would be good for a win, but thanks to Gino the Machino and company, the Tigers proved that not even that would have been good enough.
“It was one of those nights when we didn’t hit the shots we needed to, but at the same time, Strasburg was just really, really good tonight,” said Kaufman.