qualifies as individual
By JEFF ZUPANIC
Brookfield was well on its way to a third straight district title when the rains came and put everything on hold momentarily.
By the time it was merely a formality the Warriors would be headed back to Columbus for the state golf tournament next week. Head coach Larry Smoot didn’t feel that way though as he stayed on the course instead of going into the clubhouse at Tannenhauf Golf Course on Thursday afternoon.
“I stayed out because I didn’t want to get caught up in everything. The kids went in and talked with the other kids and it was a very relaxed atmosphere for them,” Smoot said. “I stayed out on the course because I didn’t want to get caught up in everything. I did not think we had it won by any stretch at that point.”
Play resumed after approximately two hours and not long after the Warriors were holding another district title following a 27-stroke victory. Brookfield shot 306 as a team to hold off Canton Central Catholic (333) yet again. Among Valley teams in the tournament, Warren JFK (344) was fourth, McDonald (349) placed fifth and Columbiana (350) was sixth.
Juniors Justin Atkinson and Connor Stevens both finished in the top three individually with a 72 and 74, respectively. Fellow junior Anthony Clark carded a 78 while John Hiner and Jake Shingledecker had an 82 and 84.
Rootstown’s Laszlo May (74) and Campbell’s Dean Austalosh (75) qualified for state as individuals by placing second and fourth, respectively.
Warren JFK’s Jimmy Graham (77) and Columbiana’s Seth Ross placed sixth and eighth, respectively.
Atkinson was the match medalist and could have had an ever better score, according to Smoot.
“He was going well and I thought when he was on hole 15 that he had a shot at medalist. He bogeyed the last hole and I thought well he had a good round and I was a little disappointed,” Smoot said.
“He finished par, par and bogey but was doing so well before the delay and that probably helped out him. I am pretty sure the delay hurt the other teams too because looking at their scores after the delay they really went up.”
The Warriors have dominated on their way back to Columbus. They won the sectional title by 35 strokes and fell just short of that with Thursday’s win.
“We came into the district just wanting to be one of the top two teams [to advance] and I had a number in mind that I thought would accomplish that. I felt 310-315 range would be good enough to win and that 320 would get us to Columbus,” Smoot said.
“I felt pretty good about our chances after we had the 151 on the first nine and thought we might have a shot to break 300.”
Smoot praised the kids for starting the tradition as freshmen as well as continuing it as sophomores and juniors.
“We will never have another Connor Stevens or Justin Atkinson ever then you sprinkle in our 3-4-5 guys and you have a pretty special team,” Smoot said.
“We didn’t have any kind of a golf tradition before this run began but it seems like we have developed one now.”