Lakota East High School’s boys golf team celebrated a double championship Thursday at Beavercreek Golf Club.
The Thunderhawks claimed the team title and senior Kyle Schmidt was the medalist in the Division I district tournament, with East earning its third straight trip to state in the process.
“It’s a pretty good run,” Thunderhawks coach Jeff Combs said. “I definitely don’t take it for granted. Over the last five, 10 years, I think this is the hardest district to get out of.
“I wouldn’t say we expected to win, but we wanted to win. I loved the fact that the conditions were tough. We pride ourselves on being mentally tough and battling through bad holes. I love when they get tested like that. It shows they’ve learned something.”
Winner of the last five Greater Miami Conference crowns, East ruled the district with 312 strokes, edging GMC rival Mason (315) and St. Xavier (316) on the par-72 course.
The top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying squad will compete at the state tournament next Friday and Saturday on the Ohio State University Scarlet Course in Columbus.
The Thunderhawks believe they have the game to grab the state championship. They finished sixth at state in 2017 and seventh in 2008 and 2016.
“It’s go time. This is our chance,” Schmidt said. “We’re going to give those Columbus teams a run at it. We didn’t shoot the lowest we can as a team (today). We know we can go lower, so we’re going to get ready for that and try to do it at state. We’re a great team right now, and we’re real proud of that.”
Schmidt was four shots better than everybody at the district event with a 2-under-par 35-35—70. It was a brisk, windy day in Beavercreek, and the ground was hard.
“We played out here a week-and-a-half ago, so we knew what we were going to face,” Schmidt said. “But it definitely changed a lot over a week. The greens were really fast. It was like putting on concrete out here, which made it tough. We want to play the toughest conditions because we’re the best at ’em.”
He conquered the difficult greens with a hot putter.
“I made a lot of putts, which is important to do when it’s this windy,” said Schmidt, who will play next season at the University of Dayton. “You’re not going to hit a lot of greens. You’re not going to hit the best shots. So you’ve got to rely on the putter, and that’s what I did today.”
Combs shook his head at the thought of Schmidt’s 70.
“To me, an 80 or 81 today is like 73 because of the conditions,” the East coach said. “A 70 … it’s like shooting 62. It’s ridiculous. There’s a lot of Division I golfers up there, and he was easily the low guy.
“One of the shots we’ve been practicing with all the guys — and that Kyle has learned — is just knocking the ball down in the wind, lowering your ball flight. He did it perfectly on 18. It’s so cool to watch.”
Freshman Ty Sylla (40-40—80) was second for the Thunderhawks, followed by juniors Peyton Houston (40-41—81) and Brock Aten (44-37—81), and freshman Joe Wilson (41-44—85).
The Wilson family will have two golfers at state next weekend. Joe’s sister Bree will be playing on the Gray Course with the East girls team.
Combs said his squad should improve with another week of practice.
“We always feel if we have a week, we can get better,” he said. “We’ve got a couple guys trending back up lately, so that’s a good thing.”
Fairfield finished 10th in the 16-team field and nearly had an individual state qualifier. Junior Mason Hamilton (36-39—75) faltered on the last two holes and missed the four-man playoff (for three spots) by one stroke.
Monroe junior Alex Gomia (37-40—77) and Lakota West senior Jacob Brownley (40-37—77) also came up just short. Senior Christian Bugher (41-45—86) and sophomore Joey Dennis (45-41—86) were the low men for Lebanon.
Top Three Teams Advance To State
1. Lakota East 312; 2. Mason 315; 3. St. Xavier 316; 4. Elder 324; 5. Centerville 325; 6. Moeller 331; 7. Oak Hills 346; 8. Anderson 349; 9. Springboro 350; 10. Fairfield 350; 11. Vandalia Butler 353; 12. Lebanon 357; 13. Springfield 360; 14. Troy 361; 15. Bellbrook 362; 16. Tippecanoe 372
Top 10 Individuals
1. Kyle Schmidt (Lakota East) 35-30—70; 2. Tyler Goecke (Carroll) 38-36—74, Austin Greaser (Vandalia Butler) 38-36—74, Alex Hewitt (Sycamore) 38-36—74, Holden Scribner (Troy) 37-37—74; 6. Mason Hamilton (Fairfield) 36-39—75, Evan DiSanto (Elder) 38-37—75; 8. Oscar Zimmerman (St. Xavier) 36-40—76, Lucas Wells (Springfield) 41-35—76; 10. Jacob Brownley (Lakota West) 40-37—77, A.J. Cherubini (Centerville) 42-35—77, Matt Daulton (Moeller) 40-37—77, Jared DeVille (St. Xavier) 40-37—77, Alex Gomia (Monroe) 37-40—77, Jack Murphy (Wilmington) 40-37—77, Logan Thomas (Mason) 40-37—77
Individual State Qualifiers
Tyler Goecke (Carroll) 38-36—74, Austin Greaser (Vandalia Butler) 38-36—74, Holden Scribner (Troy) 37-37—74
Note: Alex Hewitt (Sycamore) 38-36—74 was eliminated in a one-hole playoff
Local Individual Results
Fairfield: Mason Hamilton 36-39—75; Chandler Kellum 52-37—89; Jared Hinkle 48-45—93; Logan Murphy 51-42—93; Adam Leugers 48-58—106
Lakota East: Kyle Schmidt 35-35—70; Ty Sylla 40-40—80; Brock Aten 44-37—81; Peyton Houston 40-41—81; Joe Wilson 41-44—85
Lakota West: Jacob Brownley 40-37—77
Lebanon: Christian Bugher 41-45—86; Joey Dennis 45-41—86; Bryce Lambert 44-48—92; Cole Pinkerman 53-40—93; A.J. Steketee 47-47—94
Monroe: Alex Gomia 37-40—77
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