By Mark Carpenter –
It hasn’t happened before but it has happened. Never had two golf teams from Adams County qualified for the state tournament in the same season, until last Monday’s Southeast District Division III District Tournament changed all that. Three Teams from the county were part of the 18-hole district event, and two of them will be “moving on up” as George Jefferson might say, as the West Union Dragons and the North Adams Green Devils saw their seasons extended for that treasured one more week, with both heading to the state tournament.
Three full teams from the county made it into district play, as the Manchester Greyhounds joined West Union and North Adams, along with individual golfer Bostin Robinson from Peebles.
When the fog had lifted and the sun came out, it was the Dragons on the course looking to make a return trip to the state tournament, where they finished ninth in 2015. The top two teams in the district along with the top two individuals not on one of those qualifying move on to state action.
As they have been most of the season, the Dragon golfers were paced by the play of junior Elijah McCarty, who shot 37 on the front nine and 42 on the back nine for a total of 79, placing him tied for second in the overall individual standings, trailing medalist Derek Lemley of Chesapeake (76) and even with Western’s Broc Jordan (79).
Coming in next for West Union senior Tyler Fowler, who went 40-42 for an 82 overall. Sophomore Jacob Pell shot 84, senior Craig Horton 85, and junior Eli Fuller 92. The total team score for the Dragons was 330, 12 strokes better than second place North Adams, but earning both teams the right to advance.
“Our boys played well today,” said West Union head coach Carl Schneider. “Elijah was clutch with a second place finish and Tyler really showed some senior leadership putting together a solid 82. Jacob played well on the back nine after struggling on the front and Eli also played a great back nine. Craig had a rough start being nine over through six holes but he rallied to shoot one over for the next 11 to save a nice round.”
“The kids have really worked hard this year knowing that not having a trip back to state would be a disappointment. Having North Adams also qualify for state will make the trip much more fun, as both teams are great friends and enjoy golfing with each other. Playing together at districts I think helped both teams relax.”
“We played a practice round earlier at North Star, where state is held,” Schneider continued. “The kids will be familiar with the course and it is a links style course and seemed to fit our players very well. It would be nice to bring home a top five finish in the state.”
The Green Devils were led by the play of senior Patrick England who handled the front nine in 42 and the back nine in 39 for an 81 that placed him tied for third in the individual standings. Junior Colt Shumaker stepped up his game at the right time at the district tourney, shooting an 86, second-best on his squad for the day. Junior Bryant Lung shot an 87, followed closely by junior Noah Lung at 88. Sophomore Carson Hall rounded out the Devils on the course with a 108. The North Adams team total of 342 was good for second place overall and a trip to the state, topping third place Adena by 17 strokes.
“In any sport a coach sets his or her goal for the season to go to state and compete for a state championship,” said North Adams head coach Ammon Mitchell. “North Adams High School now has that opportunity. From the first day of practice, our team slogan was ‘State Bound.’ After every good shot, I would hear the boys say ‘State Bound.’ I am so proud of our team and it is truly a blessing to be a part of this memorable season.”
“I am also proud of West Union because they advanced to state again. There are 12 teams that compete at the state level and two teams are from the same school district just miles apart. I’m not sure anybody in the state of Ohio can say that. I want to thank all the parents, boosters, and our community because without all their support we could never have accomplished our goal.”
Manchester finished eighth in the overall team standings and were led by sophomore Dylan Colvin, who shot 44 front and 46 back for a 90 total. Fellow sophomore Logan Hayslip was close behind at 92, with senior Justin Aldridge closing out his career with what he described “as a terrible round”, shooting 99 for the 18 holes. Freshman Zach James shot 100 with junior Jalen James slipping to 106.
Peebles’ Robinson, a junior, had a very respectable day in district play, shooting 42 on the front nine and 40 on the back for an 82, which left him just one spot away from qualifying for state as an individual golfer.
Now for West Union and North Adams, a week of nerves and thought await as they prepare to compete with the best in the state on the golf course, something they have been preparing for since the first day of coaching back on Aug. 1. The Division III Tournament will be played on Oct. 14-15 at the North Star Golf Club in Sunbury, with 18 holes being played each day for a 36-hole state final. The teams will be allowed on the course on Oct. 13 for a practice round, which should help make them more familiar with the course and calm a few of the nerves.
The defending team champion in Division III is Lancaster Fisher Catholic and the individual winner in 2015 was Danville’s Brayden Baldridge, who shot a 152 over 36 holes.