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On the links: Hamilton’s niblickers were state champions in 1948

Seventy years ago, Hamilton High School’s niblickers earned themselves a state championship.

Niblickers, you say? Think of pitching … but not with a baseball.

It’s an outdated term these days, but it was quite common in 1948. Niblick refers to a sand wedge or 9-iron.

That’s right. We’re talking golf. And in ’48, Big Blue ruled the Ohio prep boys golf world.

According to Journal-News and Ohio High School Athletic Association archives, here are the details from Hamilton’s run to the state title:

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The Journal-News published a photo in 1948 after Hamilton High School’s boys golf team captured the state championship in Columbus.

The first thing to note is that boys golf was a spring sport in Ohio before moving to the fall in 1974. There were two state tournaments during the switchover year (the first state tourney was held in 1927).

In 1948, Hamilton was coached by Dick Goos and lost only two matches during the season, both to Dayton Chaminade. It was a junior-powered Big Blue squad thanks to the 11th-grade trio of Hugh Quinn, Jim Tewart and Wayne “Cactus” Barrett.

Quinn was the medalist at the district tournament with a 2-under-par 70 at Avon Fields Golf Course. Hamilton took the team title as well with a record-setting score of 292, which was 15 strokes ahead of Withrow.

On Friday, May 21, Big Blue began play at the state tournament on the Ohio State University course in Columbus. There were no classes or divisions back then — all schools played for one team championship.

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Hamilton was second in the state field after the first day with a 349 total, trailing only Findlay (344). The Journal-News noted that players had to battle a strong wind in Columbus.

Findlay would fade all the way to ninth place on the second day of the 36-hole event, but Big Blue stayed strong. HHS carded a 339 on Day 2 and captured its only state crown by three shots over Warren Harding.

Akron Kenmore’s Tony Ondrus posted a 77-79—156 and was the individual medalist. Quinn (85-81—166), Tewart (85-85—170), Bill Johnson (86-86—172) and Barrett (93-87—180) did the scoring for Hamilton.

The team leaderboard looked like this: Hamilton 688, Warren Harding 691, Columbus Aquinas 696, Withrow 699, Sandusky 702, Coshocton 709, Dayton Wilbur Wright 709, Westerville 710, Findlay 711, Toledo DeVilbiss 711, Chaminade 728, Canton Lehman 738, Shaker Heights 740, Athens 748, St. Clairsville 762, Toledo Central 764, Chillicothe 772 and Willoughby 781.

Only two other Butler County teams have won state boys golf championships — Fairfield in 1979 (Class AAA) and Lakota West in 2000 (Division I).

The first year of classes (A, AA, AAA) in Ohio was 1971. The first year of divisions (I, II, III) was 1989.

Here is a list of Butler County’s individual state champions:

• 1942 — John Zoller, Hamilton (78-78—156)

• 1969 — Jim Urso, Badin (80-72—152)

• 1976 — Mike McGee, Madison, Class AA (79-79—158)

• 1981 — Jack Pawelkoski, Fenwick, Class A (83-80—163)

• 1984 — Bill Thomas, Talawanda, Class AAA (78-75—153), shared medalist honors with Chip Coman of Thomas Worthington (75-78—153)

• 2004 — Kyle Hodges, Hamilton, Division I (72-74—146)

• 2008 — Korey Ward, Lakota West, Division I (74-77—151)

• 2009 — Korey Ward, Lakota West, Division I (37-37—74), shortened t0 18 holes by weather

Note: Fenwick’s Jarryd Lentz was the Division II medalist (73-78—151) in 2005, but Fenwick was no longer in Butler County at that point, having moved to its Warren County campus in 2004.

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