By MICHAEL BURWELL
BOWLING GREEN — The number 78 has been kind to Andrew Kuenzli, even if he didn’t expect it to get him back to Columbus.
The Riverdale junior standout battled windy conditions during Thursday’s Division III boys district golf tournament at Stone Ridge Golf Club to fire a 6-over 78. That was good enough to get him to next week’s OHSAA Division III state tournament at The Ohio State University Scarlet Course.
Ironically, 78 was the score Kuenzli shot at Stone Ridge two years ago to get him to the state tournament as a freshman.
“I was surprised (that 78 made it out),” Kuenzli said. “I thought for sure after I putted it in on nine, I thought I was done for the year, but it just worked out in my favor, and I can go back now.”
The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the state tournament, which will be held Oct. 11-12.
Kuenzli snatched the third individual qualifying spot and finished fifth overall. Lima Temple Christian’s Lincoln Waters and Tinora’s Dylan Von Deylen both shot 75 to earn co-medalist honors and move on.
Wayne Trace’s Kaden Sutton shot a 79 to take the final individual spot.
Kalida fired a 328 to win the team title and advance to state for the fourth-straight season. Minster (333), Fremont St. Joseph (339) and Seneca East (349) finished second, third and fourth, respectively, to earn a spot in Columbus.
Van Buren shot a 373 to finish 10th, while Bluffton was 13th with a 377.
Kuenzli, who started on No. 10 and was among the first players to finish, anxiously played the waiting game throughout the afternoon as scores were coming in.
Kuenzli was in the same group with Waters, and Von Deylen was also among the first to finish. So when Kuenzli saw two 75s early on the board, it was nerve-wracking for him.
“I couldn’t sit still,” Kuenzli said. “I didn’t even like to stand by the scoreboard over there (outside of the clubhouse). I walked over to the driving range and just stood over there for a little bit, then came back and saw what was happening.
“It was really stressful and as the scores came in, I calmed down a little bit and realized that I had a pretty big chance to go.”
Kuenzli started his round with a bang as he birdied the par-4 10th. He hit a wedge from around 135 yards out to 20 feet and drained the birdie putt to get to 1-under.
However, he had three bogeys on his opening nine as he went out in 2-over 38.
“I was definitely pretty mad. Going in with a 38 when I was 1-under after the first hole was tough,” he said.
He had four bogeys on his second nine, but two key pars helped him.
On the par-3 fifth, Kuenzli almost hit his tee shot in the water just short of the green. He chipped his second shot to about 13 feet and lipped in his par putt.
On the par-4 ninth, his last hole, he hit his second shot from around 130 yards out onto the elevated green. He nearly made his long birdie putt, but settled for par and a 78.
“On the front nine, I definitely left a lot out there. Four bogeys and I was pretty mad, but it is what it is and I came in and finished well,” Kuenzli said.
Carey senior Ethan Tanner shot an 85, which included a 39 on the front nine.
Van Buren senior A.J. Overmyer led the Black Knights with an 87. Bluffton senior Drew Wilson also had an 87, while sophomore Kenny Lovett backed him up with an 89.
Hopewell-Loudon’s Luke Graham (92), North Baltimore’s Hunter Baker (92) and Arcadia’s Casey Cramer (99) also competed as individuals.
Grayson Temple (94), Travis Neumeister (96) and Weston Heitkamp (96) completed Van Buren’s score. Micah Minnig (100) scored for Bluffton, with Jared Piercefield and Jaden Coonfare both shooting 101.
Division III District
AT STONE RIDGE GOLF CLUB
1, Kalida 328. 2, Minster 333. 3, Fremont St. Joseph 339. 4, Seneca East 349. 5, Pettisville 350. 6, Delphos St. John’s 354. 7, Old Fort 357. 8, Margaretta 360. 9, Woodmore 364. 10, Van Buren 373. 11, Antwerp 374. 12, Montpelier 375. 13, Bluffton 377. 14, Allen East 382. 15, North Central 385. 16, Fayette 395. 17, Buckeye Central 411.
AREA INDIVIDUALS — Luke Graham (Hopewell-Loudon) 92; Hunter Baker (North Baltimore) 92; Ethan Tanner (Carey) 85; Casey Cramer (Arcadia) 99; Andrew Kuenzli (Riverdale) 78.
MEDALISTS — Lincoln Waters (Lima Temple Christian) & Dylan Von Deylen (Tinora) 75.
TEAM STATE QUALIFIERS — Kalida (328), Minster (333), Fremont St. Joseph (339) & Seneca East (349).
INDIVIDUAL STATE QUALIFIERS — Lincoln Waters (Lima Temple Christian) 75; Dylan Von Deylen (Tinora) 75; Andrew Kuenzli (Riverdale) 78; Kaden Sutton (Wayne Trace) 79.