GALION — The Galion Tigers boys golf team has had their fair share of success throughout the past three fall seasons. Included in those triumphs are multiple, big invitational wins against fierce competition, three consecutive sectional championships, two straight district titles with a runner-up finish in 2017 and a three-season winning streak in duals that totals a record of 41-0 in that time frame.
On Friday and Saturday of this week, head coach Bryce Lehman and his boys put their respective games on the line with a trip to the Division II State Golf Tournament, their third such trip in as many seasons.
The core roster of juniors Matthew McMullen and Spencer Keller, sophomores Bronson Dalenberg and Max Longwell, as well as freshmen Nick McMullen and Nathan Barre will head down to Sunbury’s NorthStar Golf Club to do battle with some of the most talented teams and individuals that the State of Ohio has to offer.
For Keller and M. McMullen, the trip to the state tournament has become an annual thing as both competitors are entering their third year at the tourney and their second trip to NorthStar (2017, as freshman).
“It just feels great,” begins Keller during practice on Monday afternoon. “College scouts will look at all those accomplishments; the state tourneys, the bigger invites…that’ll all get you more recognition. For me personally, it’s truly just a great experience to just be playing with some of the best golfers in the state. This group of guys makes it a lot of fun as well!”
Longwell is making his second trip to the state tournament, having served as an alternate for the senior-heavy team that finished fifth overall in Division II competition at the Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course.
“I’m more prepared this time, getting to play instead of just watching it,” says the soft-spoken Longwell. “I’m not going to be as nervous and the experience that I’ve gained is a big plus. We’re a good group…we all expect good scores out of one another and if one of us has a bad round, the others are always there to back each other up.”
As for Dalenberg, it will be his first official time playing at NorthStar this season as he missed the tournament earlier in the year as he started the season recovering from an injury. The sophomores’ score at districts last weekend proved to be the deciding factor in Galion’s championship over Genoa.
“It felt good…it was a lot of mixed emotions knowing that I didn’t play particularly well but ‘every stroke counts’ is the saying,” touches Dalenberg on the district result. As for what’s ahead for him and his teammates, Dalenberg offered the following. “Every moment that you’re in is the most important and we’re all just going to keep playing through it.”
“I’m really looking forward to the experience, just trying to absorb it all so that we can hopefully get back there next year,” says freshman N. McMullen. “I’ve golfed on this course a few times over the summer playing in tournaments…it’s a really tough course and scores were a little higher but I feel comfortable going into it.” McMullen served as essentially the third-man on the roster, posting impressive scores in his first season on the varsity level.
In 2017, the Galion Tigers finished as one of the top public schools in the Division II tournament at NorthStar as it was a similar situation a season ago at the Scarlet Course. Galion enters the tourney with similar expectations following a sixth place overall finish in 2017 and a fifth place ranking last fall.
“The way that I see it, with this group of guys, we should finish in about the same place as years prior,” says the head coach of his boys. “There is a lot of tough competition heading into this tournament and that’s nothing new from years past. Spencer and Matty know what to look forward to and Max got to see it last year…we just want to go out and compete and as long as we play the game and shoot the scores that I know that this team is capable of, there’s no reason that we couldn’t finish in the top-four down there this year.”
The Tigers are set to tee-off on Friday morning at 9:50 a.m. down in Sunbury. In the state format, golfers play an 18-hole round on Friday and another on Saturday, with Saturday’s start time to be determined based on scores from Friday.
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