A pair of Clear Fork seniors finished 1-2 in the individual standings as the Colts claimed the team title at the 2015 Galion Golf Invitational held Wednesday at the Galion Country Club.
Luke Watson won medalist honors with a round of 75 and Dakotah McClain finished as the runner-up after shooting 80. The green and white’s team total of 322 was 41 strokes better than the second-place side Madison Comprehensive, which posted a 363. The Lexington junior varsity squad placed third with a score of 368. Galion finished fourth after shooting 372.
Rounding out the team scores, Fostoria was fifth at 395 and Ontario’s JV placed sixth with a score of 406. Bucyrus finished seventh with a round of 411. Mansfield Christian placed eighth after shooting 457 and Crestline was ninth with a score of 520. Mansfield Senior also competed in the tournament, but only had three players and did not figure in the team results.
Colts corral the course
Clear Fork head coach Jeff Gottfried was pleased with how his team handled the course at Galion.
“”When you go to a golf course, you like to say, ‘We’re not playing the other teams that are there, basically, your competition is the course,’” he said. “That’s what I told the guys today. I thought they played the golf course very well. We had some guys play some nice rounds.”
Gottfried said Watson’s round could have been even lower and that McClain continued his steady run of play.
“Luke actually finished with three bogeys in a row, kind of limped in with his 75,” said Gottfried. “But he played very, very well. Dakotah’s been solid. He’s been from 75 to 80 all year as far as his scores are concerned.”
In addition to the solid performances turned in by Watson and McClain, two other Colts seniors contributed positively to the win. Devon Shortridge fired an 81 and Jake Helinski finished with a round of 86.
“Devon had a nice round today,” Gottfried said. “He’s capable of shooting in the high 70s, but he can also have a high 80s round as well. He kept it together today real well and finished with a birdie. Jake was around what he would normally would shoot.”
Sophomores Gage Wolfgang and Jared Lind rounded out the day for Clear Fork by shooting 95 and 99, respectively.
Tigers finished well
After a slow start on the front nine, Galion junior Nick Kruger and freshman Jack McElligott rebounded to lead the way with each player shooting 90. Freshman Kaleb Harsh finished with a round of 91.
Brevin Owens and Colten Skaggs each shot 101 and Mitchell Dyer ended his day at 107.
“We had a rough start,” said Tigers head coach Bryce Lehman. “My one, two and three men early on were putting up some big numbers. As a coach, you hate to see that. You have to choose the right words to say and encourage them to move forward. It’s hard for high school kids, because one bad shot can lead to another bad shot.
“But something clicked on the back nine and they really turned it around,” he added. “I was really pleased.”
Lehman said he drove home the fact that the Tigers were well within range of finishing second, but that a fourth-place finish was a solid accomplishment for his team, especially after the Tigers finished last at their own tournament in 2014.
“I told them that if we had gotten four scores of 90 — that’s 360 — we beat out Madison and we finish in second place in our own invitational,” he said. “At that point, I think it sunk in even more with them that they’re getting close to playing to their potential. But there’s nothing wrong with a fourth-place finish. It’s a huge improvement over last year.”
Despite the inexperience of the Tigers, Lehman said he believes the team can enjoy some success this season.
“I know that this group of kids has talent,” he said. “At some point, it’s going to start clicking, as far as the right club selection, reading putts, the little things. Playing more target golf.”
Coming up next
Galion plays Colonel Crawford on Thursday at the Galion Country Club. Match time is 4 p.m.
Crestine will play its first Mid-Buckeye Conference tournament of the season on Thursday at Apple Valley Golf Course in Howard. Tee time is 11:30 a.m.
Clear Fork’s next scheduled event is the Hillsdale Invitational on Friday at Mohican Hills Golf Club. Tee time is 9 a.m.
Galion Golf Invitational 2015
Galion Country Club
Medalist: Luke Watson, Clear Fork, 75
Runner-up: Dakotah McClain, Clear Fork, 80
1. Clear Fork 322
2. Madison Comprehensive 363
3. Lexington JV 368
4. Galion 372
5. Fostoria 395
6. Ontario JV 406
7. Bucyrus 411
8. Mansfield Christian 457
9. Crestline 520
Andrew Carter can be reached at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048. Connect with him on Twitter @ACGalionSports.