By JAMIE BAKER
It didn’t take Findlay High School coach Blake Delaney much time to get the school’s boys golf program back on track.
Delaney is in his fourth season in charge of the program. When he got the job, the program was perhaps at one of its lowest points in its history. In his first year, Delaney had to seek out students just to fill out the Trojans’ junior varsity lineup.
But, with the school’s junior varsity program back on its feet and playing in area varsity small-school tournaments, and the implementation of a junior high feeder club team, the FHS boys golf program is seemingly again on solid ground.
The Trojans, who were in the hunt for the Three Rivers Athletic Conference championship right up until the final scores at the league tournament were counted, did lose a handful of contributors last spring.
Jordan Goeb, Will Templin, Nick Holman and Zach Thomas were all lost to graduation.
Goeb and Templin, in particular, will be missed. Goeb was the Trojans’ No. 1 golfer a year ago and recorded a number of rounds in the 70s on many of the top courses throughout the state on his way to earning a spot on the all-TRAC first team and finishing fifth individually at the Division I district tournament.
Templin was the Trojans’ No. 3 player in last year’s conference tournament and Thomas ended the season as the Findlay’s No. 6 player.
Toledo St. John’s topped the Trojans 325-340 in last year’s conference tournament to edge FHS by three points in the final overall TRAC standings, which is determined by a combination of regular season league matches and the season-ending tournament at Stone Ridge Golf Club in Bowling Green.
“It was super and super upsetting at the same time because we knew how close we were to winning the league last year. If you look at where we were a few years ago, we were fourth and we were nowhere close to the two or three teams ahead of us,” Delaney said. “Last year, we lost by one match to a heck of a St. John’s team. We have four returning players from last year’s team and we’re hoping that’s going to take us a long way.
“That experience will let us keep rolling through this season. We also have two freshmen on the varsity which is really exciting. We think they have the ability to do some great things for us during their careers.”
This year, the Trojans will field a relatively young team. Among those four returning players, Harrison Hall is the team’s lone senior letterman.
Hall, an outstanding hockey and baseball player for FHS during the winter and spring sports seasons, will wrap up his career as a four-year letterwinner. An honorable mention all-TRAC and all-district selection a year ago, Hall posted an 88.0 18-hole average as a junior.
Delaney is hoping Hall will help set the pace for the rest of the team.
“Harrison has worked pretty hard in the offseason and that wasn’t easy to do since he is a three-sport athlete. We think he’s going to be pretty good. And as a senior, we think he’s going to step up and we’ll ride his coattails a little bit. Sure, there’s a little pressure there but it isn’t anything we don’t think he can’t handle,” Delaney said.
Sophomore Grant Lane, who posted a 93.0 average as a freshman, is back after earning second-team all-conference honors. Junior Justin Hartman, a returning honorable mention all-conference pick, boasted a 90.0 average.
Zach Harris is the Trojans’ other returning letterwinner. He had an 89.0 average as a freshman and Delaney says he has a great mind for golf and is driven to improve every day.
Junior Samuel Crawford will be looking to step up and into the top six in Findlay High School’s lineup this fall.
“I don’t know if we have a true No. 1. All of our guys are pretty good golfers, even our freshmen. When they are all golfing well, I think it’s going to be hard to beat us. On the other hand, if we have some guys struggle, it’s going to be tough,” Delaney said.
“The big thing we’re emphasizing this year is avoiding those big blow up holes. We want everyone in the 80s at all times whether its an 81 or 89. I think we’re going to be a little more consistent as a team this season.”
Two freshmen have earned spots in the FHS lineup. Delaney thinks Ethan Lammers and Nick Feighner have potential to make an impact in the future after both had solid years as members of Findlay’s middle school program.
Delaney thinks it’s time the program takes yet another step forward.
“I think I have a better grasp and understanding of what’s going on. I know what’s good and what’s bad. A lot of our boys, this is the only sport they play,” he said. “It’s a pivotal year for the program. We should see more progress this year and if we don’t, clearly we’re not doing something right and we need to fix that.”