Canfield’s Keffler back at state after playoff victory
By Brian Dzenis
It’s the last run for the best generation in Boardman’s boys golf.
This weekend, Spartans seniors Brian Terlesky, Kade Kreps, Bryan Kordupel and Bobby Jonda plus junior Cole Christman are traveling to Ohio State’s Scarlet Course for the Division I state tournament.
Canfield junior Hannah Keffler is the Mahoning Valley’s lone representative on the girls side of the tournament.
“We’ve had the same core for four years and it’s just been an awesome ride,” Kreps said. “It’s just crazy that I can still remember our first match.
“The time went by so fast,” Kreps said. “It was me and Bryan and I was so nervous. It was like ‘wow, I’m in high school.’ Now this is my last one. The nerves from my first 9-hole match till now is crazy to think about.”
The Spartans were 68-1 in four seasons with 16 invitational wins and in some fashion, have gone to state. This is the third year in a row the Spartans have made it as a team, while Terlesky made it individually in his freshman season.
All four seniors will be playing college golf, with Terlesky and Kordupel going to Youngstown State and Kreps going to Akron. Jonda is undecided.
“You get a group of kids like this once every coaching tenure,” coach Brian Terlesky said. “It’s a special group of seniors and Cole, who’s a junior but he’s been here long enough that he acts like a senior.”
The Spartans are seeking their first boys state title in any sport and Boardman’s second state title since softball won the 2001 state championship. Boardman finished eighth and sixth in its last two trips to Columbus.
“I think to me, if we play our best, we’ll be the best team there,” said Terlesky, who is the son of the head coach.
The key to winning is avoiding the hazards of the Scarlet Course. Chipping out of a bunker is no biggie for the Spartans at Mill Creek Park, but it’s another story in Columbus. Contenders also have to deal with fast and sloped greens.
“You have to manage the course really well. What I mean by that is you have to place it on the greens just right. If you put it in the wrong place, you’re going to have a hard time,” Christman said. “The bunkers are really punishing because they’re so high. Laying it into the bunker is a penalty stroke.”
Keffler made state in thrilling fashion. Last week in district play, she shot a 74, and then after two and a half hours of waiting, she learned she would have to face Notre Dame Cathedral Latin’s Nora Nelson in a playoff for the fourth and final spot in Columbus. She was given 15 minutes to warm up before heading out.
“The playoff was a little bit nerve-wracking, they all are,” Keffler said. “I just tried to stay level-headed and know that I needed to win it no matter what.”
Both golfers reached the Par 4 green in two strokes. Nelson was first to putt and she pushed the ball past the hole. She needed two more putts to bogey. Keffler finished the hole even to qualify.
“I expected to get the team to state, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen,” Canfield coach Diane McCall said. “I’m thrilled for Hannah that she was able to perform well enough get back to state.”
The weather shouldn’t be the obstacle it was last year. The 2016 tournament was limited to just one day due to rain.
“It was a shame that I didn’t get to play both days last year, but the nice thing about coming back this year is that I know the course so much better than I did before,” Keffler said. “I did get in the practice round, so I played it twice. I also know what to expect going into it.”
Kreps recalled the rain-shortend tourney as a bit of a downer, but they did get an extra night to just hang out and sometimes, that’s just as good as the wins on the course.
“That is so memorable and so awesome anytime you get five good buddies, it’s good,” Kreps said. “When we’re in the hotel, it’s the one time there is no pressure on us like there is on the course. We can relax and have fun and that’s what I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”