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Wilson, Graham, Brookfield returning to state tournament


Published: Wed, October 11, 2017 @ 12:10 a.m.

— HIGH SCHOOL GOLF —

Wilson, Graham, Brookfield returning to state tournament

By ALEXIS BARTOLOMUCCI

abartolomucci@vindy.com

The competition figures to be fierce in the Division III boys state golf tournament Friday and Saturday at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course.

And that’s just among the top players from the Mahoning Valley in the field, let alone the rest of the state.

Columbiana’s Jared Wilson, a senior, and Warren JFK’s Jimmy Graham are returning to state. Wilson is the defending Division III individual champion. Graham is a junior making his third appearance in the state tournament.

How deep is the field? Neither player was the medalist at last week’s district tournament at Tannenhauf Golf Club. That honor went to Brookfield’s Conner Stevens, who is one of three players who were members of a Warriors team that placed fifth in Columbus a year ago. The others are Nate Smoot and Justin Atkinson.

Stevens’ 71 at Tannenhauf matched Wilson and the Brookfield player made a birdie on a playoff hole to edge the defending state champ.

Graham has been playing golf since he received his first pair of plastic golf clubs when he was three years old. After that is when it started to take off.

“I got into it watching TV, watching Tiger Woods,” Graham said. “He was probably my favorite.”

Graham eventually joined golf clubs and played in competitive, junior and state tournaments. His family, friends and peers began to see his talent grow the more time and dedication he put into the game.

Keeping school and his grades his top priority, Graham makes time everyday to go out and practice. He practices in his backyard and at Trumbull Country Club, where he works on chipping and putting then goes inside to focus on his school work.

After placing 11th overall, one stroke shy of the top ten, at state last year he is focused on taking home the win this year. He shot a 74 at districts this year and is being coached by first-year coach Heath Myers.

“The first time I saw him play, our first practice, I was absolutely amazed at how good he was,” Myers said. “I knew he had what it takes to go to state, I knew that from day one.”

Myers said Graham has been getting better as the season has gone on. His dedication to the sport is what it takes to be a good golfer and shows how much he wants to win.

“One of our mottos at school is ‘Dedication, Integrity and Courage’ and I think he embodies all three of those very well,” Myers said. “He represents JFK in a very positive manner on and off the course.”

Graham enjoys the Scarlet Course. “It’s crazy. First year was awesome, I was really happy about that and the second year it was even better,” he said. “The third year it’s like I know I can do it. I know what to expect and I want to win down there.”

But Graham is not alone. Wilson has won there and the Brookfield golfers have been dominant all season. That didn’t stop at tournament time.

Warriors coach Larry Smoot was confident going into sectionals, but when it came time for districts he was nervous. He knew there were schools like Gilmour, Canton Central Catholic and Smithville that Brookfield would be competing against for the title.

The Warriors shot 294 to win a sectional at Riverview Golf Course. Brookfield shot 312 at Tannenhauf and won a title by 11 strokes.

“Going into districts we had a target number to be at,” Warriors coach Larry Smoot said. “We were looking for 315 and shot a 312.”

Smoot has the players honing their short games and practicing their bunker shots.

“We’ve been playing 18 holes and staying on the course as long as we can play,” he said. “We have to eliminate big mistakes. If we play strong, we have a good chance.

“There will mistakes here and there. With 36 holes everyone will have mistakes. We have to put the ball back in play.”


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