Coming into the 2015 Division III OHSAA State Golf Championship, the West Union Dragons were ranked 12th out of 12 teams, but couple of strong rounds from a team featuring zero seniors beat out three other teams to take home a ninth place finish.
“There’s no seniors so I wanted everyone to have a positive experience so they work hard to get back here next year,” West Union Head Coach Carl Schneider said. “We were ranked twelfth score-wise coming in and we were tenth after the first day and only six out of eighth place. I was pleased.”
Junior Craig Horton led the Dragons in the tournament with a round of 80 on day one which was followed up with an 87 on day two to finish tied for 21st overall out of 72 participants.
Sophomore Elijah McCarty finished 46th overall, freshman Jacob Pell finished 55th, junior Tyler Fowler finished 56th and sophomore Eli Fuller finished 65th.
The tournament was held at the Scarlet Course at the Ohio State Golf Club and each one of the golfers said they had never played a course as difficult as this one.
“I took the kids over to a course in Batavia and we played that and we went up to Snowhill trying to get something but we don’t have any bunkers that when you stand in them they’re over your head anywhere,” Schneider said. “We’ve played with that at home by putting golf bags on the edge of the green and then say ‘You have to hit it over’ just to try to simulate one of these bunkers.”
The overwhelming consensus from the team regarding the most difficult part of the course was the greens, which hardly had a flat piece to putt on, making for challenging putts.
“I’ve never played a course this nice or this rough,” Fowler said. “The hardest part was the greens by far. They’re really fast and they’re really, really slanted.”
The team was in Columbus for a few days for the two-day tournament. Each of the teams was allowed a practice round the day before the tournament started which gave the players a good idea of what they were facing in the coming days.
“[The practice round is] definitely a good thing to do to help you get familiar with the course,” Fuller said. You can learn how the greens roll and just having a picture in your head, you might remember something about one hole and you can plan based on that.”
Weather played a large role in this tournament as high winds knocked down plenty of balls on day one while cold temperatures delayed the start of the final round by an hour.
“It was pretty tough,” McCarty said. “Having to wear all these clothes makes it hard to swing.”
“[The weather] was a pretty big factor,” Fowler said. “That cold just doesn’t help your ball at all. It makes [the ball] a lot harder which doesn’t go near as far and while it wasn’t as windy as the first day, it still was pretty bad today.”
While the district tournament, where the Dragons finished second in order to qualify for the state tournament, was packed with pressure, many of the competitors said once they realized they were at the state competition, much of that pressure went away as they realized they were at the highest level they could compete at this year.
“This tournament is very different from districts,” Pell said. “You made it here, you feel great and you just try to do the best you can. We’re hoping to come back next year.”
The Dragons are primed for another state run next year and the team already has their sights on teeing off where they stood a year from now.
“It was a pretty good season,” McCarty said. “We made it to state with no seniors and we’re hoping to come back next year.
Reach Charles Grove at 937-544-2391 or firstname.lastname@example.org.