It may be extremely early in the high school golf season, but the Strasburg Tigers have put the area on notice that they are going to be a force to be dealt with.
Strasburg has been on fire during the preseason, and picked up right where it left off in devouring the field of 19 teams en route to a tournament crown at the Garaway Open Saturday, August 6 at Willandale Golf Course in Sugarcereek.
Leading the way for the Tigers was Dylan Tucker, who fired off a team-medalist score of 74, including a brilliant 35 on the front side. He was far from alone in tossing out solid numbers for the Tigers. Mitch Neidenthal and Mike Neidenthal each carded 76s, while J.K. McCracken added a 79. Strasburg actually had to toss out Gino Shupbach’s 80, a score that would have the top score on eight teams or the second score on six others.
“We’ve been playing very well so far in the early going,” said Strasburg coach Jeff Willis.
“It’s been really fun to see some of the younger kids stepping up and playing well. They continue to work hard every single day, and we are definitely getting a lot better.”
But it wasn’t as though the Tigers weren’t challenged. A talented group from Wooster inched close, firing off a 311 to finish second. The veteran Generals got a 76 from Anthony Panepento, a 77 from Brent Dillon and Wesley Roberts and an 81 from Mason Frazier. Those kinds of numbers are why this year’s Wooster team looks like a good bet to continue its great play in the Ohio Cardinal Conference, where it should challenge for a title.
Columbus Academy, a regular participant at the state tournament, placed third with a 314, led by Abhi Ramaswany and Cole Walter’s identical 75s, while host Garaway turned in a solid 320 to earn fourth.
The Pirates were paced by two-man Brevin Weaver, who turned in a 76, followed by Ben Koshmider’s 80. Michael Yoder and Zach Immel each carded 80s to round out the Pirates’ scores.
“I was really impressed with the play of our four and five men, Michael and Zach,” said first-year head coach Brad Nyholm. “This was their first effort in a real varsity tournament, and they both came through a dealt with the pressure very well.
“Brevin had his usual unhappy 76 and both Ben and Colten didn’t play the way they are capable of playing, but they both seemed to find themselves after struggling early.”
Nyholm said he was hoping for a fourth place finish or better in the tough field, and was pleased with the 30, considering the wealth of talent the Pirates lost off of last year’s state-qualifying team.
“It was a good start for us, and I think our scores will get better as we move along during the season and gain experience,” said Nyholm.
Meadowbrook had three players break 80, led by Trey Singleton’s blistering 73, helping them place fifth after dropping the tiebreaker with Garaway, while Dover grabbed sixth with a 322.
Tornado ace Jack Jones fired a 73 and won medalist honors by winning a two-hole play-off with Singleton. Jones’ teammate Alex German added an 80. Tusky Valley got a 75 from Michael Thompson and a 78 from Brenton Franks to push to seventh place.
Zanesville was eighth at 331, while Hiland pulled in at ninth with a 355. The Hawks were led by Tremper Coblentz’ 78, while freshman Dylan Kaufman proved capable of playing with the big boys with an 80 in his first varsity experience. Another youngster, Bruce Yoder, also played well for Hiland, carding an 87.
“That was not the potential of this team,” said Hiland coach Austin Kaufman. “We had way too many penalties. We’ve got some young kids playing, and as the year goes on we are going to improve. We had some moments, but we kind of struggled as a whole. It’s early, and it will take us time, but we are definitely going to get better as the season progresses.”
Ridgewood’s 344 rounded out the top 10, led by Bruce Dennis’ 79. New Philadelphia shot 366, led by Drew Wherley’s 84 and Dakota Wright’s 85. Claymont was paced by Joe Cottis’ 83.
West Holmes was paced by sophomore newcomer Carter Haun, who fired off a 90. Tuscarawas Central Catholic got a 95 from AJ Henry. Even Strasburg’s second team had a solid day, led by Calvin Willis’ 82.