The easy part is over for the four teams who many figure will vie for a spot at the Div. II state golf tournament. Now comes the hard part.
On Monday, Sept. 26 at River Greens Golf Course, a total of six teams advanced out of the sectional to district play, including four teams whom many believe will be fighting for the one lone spot to advance to state.
The top six teams included champion John Glenn (311), Garaway (313), Tusky Valley (313), Meadowbrook (316), River View (322) and Ridgewood (323).
The top four teams were all challenging for the title last year, a challenge won by Garaway that went on to state. This year, those same four teams are seeking that elusive lone spot that will send them to the big show, and it won’t be easy, as they are all capable of putting up championship numbers on any given day.
The Pirates, owners of nine straight state tournament appearances, got a fairly balanced effort across the board from their five-member team. It will take that kind of consistency to play its way into a state berth for a 10th straight season.
“We have had out issues putting up consistently solid scores from multiple players, so it has been nice to see us put together some really solid scores across the board the last couple of tournaments,” said Garaway coach Brad Nyholm. “Especially since the competition level we will be facing from here on out is going to be extremely tough. We are going to need all of the good scores we can get. There were four teams within five strokes of each other, and that is probably going to be a very similar story next week, when one of two strokes could easily determine who moves on and whose season is over.”
Garaway actually put together that same solid 313 score at the Eastern District tournament just days earlier, so the scores are rounding into shape. Now, as the district tournament approaches and the tees get moved all the way to the back, the team scores will undoubtedly go up, but Nyholm said that if the Pirates can limit the number of silly mistakes and poor decisions, they should put themselves into good position to grab the lone state qualifying spot. He realizes, however, that the rest of that district field believes the same thing, so they know it will be a dogfight. He said they will need their veteran leaders to step up and deliver to have a chance.
“I felt like both Ben (Koshmider) and Brevin (Weaver) did a really nice job in grinding out pars when they could have put up some bigger numbers,” said Nyholm of his number one and two golfers, veterans who will be relied upon to carry the burden.
One plus for Garaway is that they play a good number of tournaments and matches at River green Golf Course, so they know the course very well, and that is something Nyholm said can’t hurt their chances.
“It helps a lot to know the course well, and the guys all like playing here a lot, so that is a good thing,” said Nyholm.
As they try for the 10th straight state appearance, Nyholm said the Pirates are aware of it, and have talked about it, but he said as a rookie head coach, they have focused on the fact that nothing is given, and thy must go out and earn it as if it were year one.
“We still have our streak, but we know we are going to have to go out and play well and earn it if we want to move on,” said Nyholm.
Team scores on the day in the 25-team sectional were:
1. John Glenn 311
2. Garaway 313
3. Tusky Valley 313
4. Meadowbrook 316
5. River View 322
6. Ridgewood 323
7. Cambridge 328
8. Sandy Valley 330
9. Minerva 331
10. Coshocton 337
11. Steubenville 338
12. St. Clairsville 345
13. Indian Valley 350
14. Harrison Central 361
15. Claymont 362
16. West Muskingum 365
17. Richmond Edison 369
18. Beaver Local 374
19. East Liverpool 375
20. Maysville 375
21. Duncan Falls Philo 376
22. Buckeye Local 380
23. McConnelsville Morgan 384
24. Belmont Union Local 410
25. Indian Creek 429
John Glenn’s Dylan Van Fossen earned medalist honors on the day with a superb one-under par 71, while teammates Jonah Hanes (78), Jack Williams (81), Chase Karling (81) and Hunter Jarrett (88) provided enough ammunition for the Muskies to claim the sectional title by a mere two strokes over the Pirates.
Garaway was led by Brevin Weaver, who shot a 75, while Ben Koshmider and Michael Yoder both added 77s, Colton Fender shot an 84 and Zach Immel tacked on an 87. Immel’s 87 earned Garaway the runner-up spot in a fifth-man tie-breaker.
Tuscarawas Valley was paced by Landen Thompson, who fired a one-over par 73. Michael Thompson (75), Brenton Franks (78) and Billy Crone (87) rounded out the top four scores for the Trojans.
Meadowbrook got a brilliant from Devin Webster 72, while Trey Singleton added a 76. Tanner Hewison (83), Tucker Rogers (85) and Abe Frizzell (90) rounded out the scoring for the Colts.
Other area team medalists included River View’s Josh Now (74), Ridgewood’s Brice Dennis (75), Coshocton’s Clay Davis (78), Indian Valley’s Dalton Burcher (80), Claymont’s Joe Cottis (76).
The top six individual qualifiers not on qualifying teams to move on to districts included Paul Mastros of Steubenville (75), Cottis, Brendan Vucelich of St. Clairsville (76), Scotty Wilson of Minerva (77), Liam Blake of Philo (78) and Logan Leichtamer of Sandy Valley (78).
Blake, Leichtamer, and Clay Davis all shot 78. In the playoff for the final two spots in the district, Blake parred the first hole to secure his spot. Then Leichtamer eliminated Davis on the second playoff hole.