Relationships, not scores, determine best memories for Pirate golfers

Cooper Stutzman Garaway Golf
Cooper Stutzman Garaway Golf

Dave Mast Photo

To a player, the Garaway Pirates golf team freely admit they did not play up to their high standards at the 43rd annual Boys Div. III State Golf Tournament at Northstar Golf Club in Sunbury, Ohio, Oct. 12 & 13.The team’s seventh place finish was not where they had hoped to end up, and they certainly were not happy just being there, this marking the seventh straight time the team has soared to State.But that doesn’t mean they didn’t enjoy the experience of finishing the year, and for some, their careers, at the highest level of competition.

Cody Mast was participating in his fourth State tournament, one of those as an alternate. He said that the pressure of competing at State never gets any easier.

“The pressure here at State is a completely different ball game,” said Mast. “At other tournaments and matches there is always a tomorrow. As a senior, there is no tomorrow, this is it, and you want to go out on top and playing well. For myself, and Adam and Giles to get to end our careers here is an amazing thing. Most guys don’t get this chance, and to make All-Ohio is a huge thrill.”

But even with that honor in tow, he said it won’t be a gold shot or a winning score that he will remember the most from his playing days.

“I’ll remember the relationships with the players and coaches the most,” said Mast. “Coach Taggart, I love that guy. From Jake (Troyer) and Kevin (Miller) and Adam and Giles, to all these guys who I’ve played with over the years, it is something I will cherish forever.”

Adam Andreas has also been a four-time State player, once as an alternate. He said that ending his golf career with Garaway at State is the perfect place to finish, even though he wasn’t thrilled with his final scores.

“I can’t imagine finishing my career anywhere else other than the State golf tournament,” said Andreas. “It’s been an unbelievable four years for me. This is something that I doubt any of us will ever forget.”

Giles Immel has played the past two years at the State tournament, and being in the State’s final Div. III golf match was an experience he will take with him as he moves on.

“I think there was a lot of doubt that this team wouldn’t make it back here,” said Giles of returning to State. “I think we did our best, and maybe the numbers didn’t show here, I think it says a lot about the character of these guys. I love these guys, and even though we didn’t play well, we can’t hang our heads. We tried our best.

“I’m glad we were able to provide some incentive for the rest of these guys next year to get back to State.

Junior Jon Mason will return next season, more than likely as Garaway’s number one man.

Mason was one of the bright spots on Saturday, shooting an 80 and hitting the ball very well. It marked his second State tournament appearance.

He said looking back there were no regrets over the two days, and the experience will propel him to work even harder this offseason.

“This year helped me a lot because I proved to myself that I could play, even if I am not hitting it well,” said Mason. “I’m looking forward to next season. Cooper proved that he could play under intense pressure, even as a freshman. We have a sixth man in Caleb Beachy that would have probably been a starter for most of the teams here. We’ve already talked about how hard we have to work next year.”

Stutzman held up well under the bright lights of the State tournament, shooting a consistent 87-88, numbers he has beaten many times earlier this year, but never having played under such extreme pressure.

As a first-timer at State, Stutzman said he is now looking forward to next season. Even as they handed out the awards, a huge throng gathered by the scoreboard, Stutzman was up on the practice green putting.

“I was disappointed with how I played, and I think we all were,” said Stutzman. “We expected a lot. It just gives us more incentive to work harder to get back next year and play better.”

Head coach Ryan Taggart said that he has had few teams work as hard as this one did this season, as they proved that life beyond Jake Troyer and Kevin Miller is still good.

“Even though we didn’t win and we didn’t play like we had hoped, I don’t think there is a more proud coach here today than I am of these kids,” said Taggart. “These are young men of great character, and that counts for so much more than scores.”

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