By Dave Mast
32 is the number usually associated with former NFL great running backs like Jim Brown and Franco Harris.
32 is known for being the number at which water freezes.
Usually, 32 is not associated with a high school golfer’s scorecard, unless that player has missed a hole or two, yet there stood Anthony Panepento after the ninth and final hole on the back side at Fire Ridge Golf Course, penciling in that number as the final total on his score card.
Panepento almost single-handedly destroyed a spirited West Holmes Knights team effort to topple the Ohio Cardinal Conference favorite Generals Thursday, August 27, and led Wooster to a 153-157 road win.
“He pretty much beat us by himself,” said West Holmes number three man A.J. Race, who fired off a 38 to give his team hope of pulling the upset. “That was the difference.”
“I shot that once this summer, but this was my first one in high school match,” said Panepento.
While the birdies came in bunches for Panepento, it was the par on 18 that had people talking. With the pressure on sitting at four-under, the Wooster junior had to punch out of trouble of4f the tee, and ran his third shot on the par-five up short-left of the sloping 18th green.
He then hit a gorgeous bending pitch shot to within four feet and knocked down the putt to save par.
Asked whether the pressure of that tough wedge shot beside the green was amplified because of his score, Panepento replied, “Well, it’s a tough shot whether you’re four under or four over. It just happens so quickly that I really wasn’t thinking about he score at all.”
Panepento actually factored into this match well before the Knights and Generals even teed off. On the way to the match, he provided a rousing speech to his teammates, talking about how West Holmes was a capable gold team, and would bring every bit of focus and energy into topping the Generals. He said they could not let that happen. That truly impressed his coach, Mark Snowbarger.
“We knew coming in that West Holmes was playing well, and they have a talented team,” said Snowbarger. “Anthony realized that too, and he showed a lot of leadership in talking about that on the way down here.”
Chipping in with Panepento’s 32 for Wooster were Brent Dillon and Corey Musselman, added a 39 and 40, respectively.
Panepento bogeyed the par-3 14th hole, but that was the lone bogey. Five birdies along with a really nice save for par on the 18th highlighted his evening.
Lost in Panepento’s game was yet another superb effort by the Knights. West Holmes got a 37 from number one man Blaine Hagar, Race’s 38, a 40 from number five man Eric Biltz and a 42 from Philip Schlabach.
“It’s pretty hard to beat that 32,” said West Holmes coach Phil Schlabach. “But we played well, and we definitely can’t be embarrassed with another really good effort. We have been consistently shooting well, and what makes me excited is that every night it seems to be someone new leading us.”
Schlabach added that he was impressed with the way his team stayed focused. He said one bad hole would not lead to other bad holes, the Knights players able to put their struggles behind them to recover quickly.”
The Knights recovered from their bad holes, but the one thing they could not recover from was the rare 32.