By MICHAEL BURWELL
COLUMBUS — Van Buren’s boys golf team had aspirations of winning a state title.
But Worthington Christian’s record-breaking first-round in the OHSAA Division III state tournament at the Ohio State University Scarlet Course was too much for the Black Knights to overcome.
Van Buren shot a second-round 327 on Saturday for a 651 total as the Black Knights placed fourth. Worthington Christian, which shot a Division III Scarlet Course-record 306 on Friday, won with a 623 and missed tying the overall team record by just five strokes.
“Really, I’m super pleased with the way we handled ourselves and the way we played. Yeah, we didn’t really necessarily finish where we were anticipating and hoping, but that’s high school athletics,” Van Buren coach Eric Heitkamp said. “That’s athletics in general.
“Looking back at the state tournament held at Scarlet, 650 a lot of the times puts you in a situation to win that tournament. Here, we’re at 651 and it wasn’t even close. You can’t play defense in this game and hats off to Worthington Christian. They put together a really, really stellar first round and we knew that was going to be tough to catch.”
Gates Mills Gilmour Academy finished runner-up (315-325–640), while Strasburg-Franklin was third (319-328–647). Kalida knocked 16 strokes off its first-round score to finish seventh with a 349-333–682.
Van Buren’s total was seven strokes better than its runner-up team from last year’s state tournament at the NorthStar Golf Club in Sunbury. It was also the best score in Heitkamp’s 10 trips to state as a coach.
Van Buren senior Brandon Wehrle shot a second-round 81 to finish tied for 13th (75-81–156) on the par-72 course that played more than 6,500 yards. Classmate Hunter Foltz had the team’s low round of the day with a 79 and tied for 23rd (82-79–161).
The two seniors, who have been Van Buren’s Nos. 1 and 2 golfers their entire high school careers, led the Black Knights to three top-four finishes in four state tournament appearances.
“I kind of figured between Hunter and Brandon, I think they both played somewhere around 80 high school events for Van Buren. Man, they’re going to be missed,” Heitkamp said. “That was a pretty dynamite 1-2 punch for four years and what I’m really, to be honest, most proud of is the young men they’ve become. They’re great kids, they come from great families, they showed leadership, they wore the Van Buren orange and black with pride.”
Junior Connor Ohlrich shaved four strokes off his first-round score to finish tied for 27th (84-80–164) for Van Buren. Juniors Noah Frederick (83-87–170) and Quentin Weddell (85-89–174) finished 35th and 41st, respectively.
Heitkamp said his message to the team after facing an 18-stroke deficit after the first round was to focus on their games, although Worthington Christian’s score “kind of took the wind out of our sails a little bit.
“To be honest, the message was hey, this is high school athletics; anything can happen. Let’s not get away from what our game plan was,” he said. “Let’s go out and play the best golf we can and let’s see what happens when we come in. That was about really the only thing we really could say.
Worthington Christian is a golf team we faced a couple times throughout the year and we beat every time we saw them. But not today and not this weekend. To shoot 306 at the Scarlet Course, which by the way it’s a Division III record, I don’t know, what are you going to do to prevent that? There’s nothing you can do to prevent it.”
The Warriors’ 306 was three strokes better than Warren John F. Kennedy’s score in 2001. Warren JFK’s 618 is the overall team record at the Scarlet Course for Division III.
Kalida, meanwhile, had each of its five players improve on the second day. Josh Klausing, the lone senior for the Wildcats, fired a 76 for an 80-76–156 total to tie for 13th. Junior Christian Nartker finished 16th (79-78–157).
Sophomores Josh Recker (93-85–178) and Alec Edelbrock (97-96–193), along with freshman Luke Erhart (102-94–196), also improved while competing in their first state tournament.
“I’m sure it had something to do with the nerves, being in the state tournament and everything and they didn’t seem nervous before they teed off yesterday, but I think it got to them after they got out there,” Kalida coach Ken Schnipke said. “But yeah, to shoot the score we shot today was great. Everybody played better so it was nice to see.
“The senior (Klausing) kind of took over (Friday) night and said ‘you guys are better than this, you can do better.’ Sometimes you leave it to them and they speak the right language.”
Individually, Bluffton senior Aaron Belcher finished 20th after shooting an 81-78–159. Riverdale freshman Andrew Kuenzli also improved as he had a 92-90–182.
Columbiana senior Jared Wilson defended his state title with a 69-72–141. He was the only player to finish under par.
In the Division II state tournament at NorthStar Golf Club in Sunbury, Upper Sandusky sophomore Brett Montgomery shot a 7-over 79 for a 151 total to finish tied for ninth and earn second-team all-Ohio honors.
Chardon Notre Dame Cathedral Latin’s Charlie Toman blistered North Star with a 67-71–137 to finish 7-under and earn medalist honors. Gahanna Columbus Academy was the team champion with a 301-295–596.
Division III State Tournament
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY SCARLET COURSE
TEAM STANDINGS — 1, Worthington Christian 306-317–623. 2, Gates Mills Gilmour Academy 315-325–640. 3, Strasburg-Franklin 319-328–647. 4, Van Buren 324-327–651. 5, Brookfield 330-326–656. 6, Cincinnati Seven Hills 327-346–673. 7, Kalida 349-333–682. 8, Cincinnati Country Day 347-345–692. 9, Canton Central Catholic 348-349–697. 10, Ottawa Hills 371-364–735. 11, Spencerville 372-370–742. 12, Seaman North Adams 373-373–746.
Division II State Tournament
AT NORTHSTAR GOLF CLUB
TEAM STANDINGS — 1, Gahanna Columbus Academy 301-295–596. 2, Chardon Notre Dame Cathedral Latin 297-309–606. 3, Kettering Archbishop Alter 308-320–628. 4, Cincinnati Summit Country Day 313-321–634. 5, Dayton Oakwood 323-326–649. 6, Galion 330-328–658. 7, New Concord John Glenn 328-331–659. 8, Archbold 333-327–660. 9, Lancaster Fairfield Union 324-338–662. 10, Youngstown Ursuline 339-345–684. 11, Chillicothe Unioto 343-350–693. 12, Poland Seminary 364-361–725.
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