The West Holmes Knights traveled to The Pines Golf Course in Orrville on Monday, Aug. 13 to participate in The Pines Invitational, an event in which they posted a strong third-place finish last year. The hope was the team would duplicate or even improve on that effort this year.
That seemed highly unlikely when the Knights went out on the first hole and were nine shots over par as a team. Nine shots over par meant the team nearly averaged a double-bogey for the hole. Nine shots over par meant there would be a high chance of that setting the tempo for a long day on the links.
Seventeen holes later West Holmes was enjoying a runner-up finish that was very improbable after one hole, but a golf tournament isn’t played in one hole. It is played over 18. The Knights proved resilient as they were able to put that ugly start aside and rebound with a final score of 336, a score that trailed only champion Waynedale, which shot a 320, paced by Dylan Ledford and Thad Weaver, who both fashioned 75s, while Drew Hostetler added a 78.
That the Knights were even in the hunt was a thrilling feeling for head coach Isaac Haver, who watched his team regroup with a vengeance, showing plenty of poise to recover from such a brutal beginning.
“I think there is something about that course our kids enjoy,” Haver said. “That beginning was just as ugly as I’d want to write one up. Evan [Yoder] triple-bogeyed the hole to start us out, and the three guys right after him all double-bogeyed. I wasn’t sure where our mind-set would go. I was sure that we were headed for a 360, and this team is not a 360 team. Our composure was very impressive. We never quit; we never gave up. We just stayed focused and kept plugging. It was really fun and encouraging to watch us respond like that.”
Yoder was eight over after six holes and finished the final 12 holes just two over par. Carter Hahn, who posted a runner-up score last year at The Pines, nearly repeated that performance, firing a team-medalist 77. Hunter Ellis carded an 88, and Brett Mirich tacked on an 89 to round out the scoring for the Knights. Also playing for West Holmes were Brody Allen, who shot a 97, and Brice Hunter, who shot a 109.
“Carter had three early doubles, but he showed guts and kept battling after that,” Haver said. “Brett finished strong at one over on his final five holes. We showed some consistency. We talked about posting four scores under 90, and we did that. It was such a big confidence booster for us.”
Haver said much of the team’s ability to respond to adversity is that it is such an even-keeled team with a good, positive attitude. He said they don’t show a ton of emotion, which surely helped them fight off the idea of feeling sorry for themselves.
“I don’t think any of us thought we would finish up in second place,” Haver said. “When we finished up, I think we were all a little caught off guard that we had come back to put up a 336. When you see your kids do something like that, you have to praise them because that is the way you hope they respond to a situation like that.”