No one ever said it would be easy.
The Scarlet Course at The Ohio State University Golf Club presents a challenge for any high school team, even one as talented as the Wildcats. Unfortunately, some tough greens and missed shots cost the Wildcats some strokes and leaves them in a tough spot after Day 1 of the OHSAA State Tournament.
With one round in the books, the Wildcats stand at 322. With another round to play on Saturday, the Wildcats need to refocus and reset quickly. To bring home a gold or silver trophy back to Cleveland, the Golf Cats need to make up ground with an excellent day on Saturday.
The Wildcats sit in 7th place overall, 13 strokes behind Dublin Jerome (309).
"We came out ready to play," said Head Coach PJ Myers '99. "The boys are so capable of shooting a low score. They gotta rebound and do something fun tomorrow."
The Northeast District Champs began the day at 10 am on No. 1, an hour later than originally scheduled due to frost. The Wildcats enjoyed a solid start in the first five holes. Topher Reed blazed to a fast start, shooting an even 20. Nick Piesen followed closely behind with a 21, with Nick Longano and Ross Williamson also playing solidly.
The Wildcats continued the momentum on the 6th hole. Reed and Piesen each birdied the Par 5 in impressive fashion. The 7-9 holes brought some difficulty, with a combined five bogeys for the Wildcats. Even still, the outlook seemed solid heading into the back nine.
The trouble began at No. 10. Each Wildcat but Ross Williamson bogeyed the hole. Three Wildcats got bogeys on No. 11 before the No. 12 and No. 13 holes dealt the Wildcats adversity. Only Topher Reed (par) and Nick Piesen (birdie) emerged from 12 without a +1. On 13, only Piesen avoided a bogey.
The Golf Cats bounced back on the 14th hole, with Reed, Piesen, and Williamson all carding birdies for the hole. But the momentum was lost with three bogeys on No. 15.
The Wildcats battled fiercely on the final three holes. But tough greens stole strokes, as several Wildcats putted it to the rim of the hole, seemingly a puff of wind away from going in the cup. Only Williamson could par the final two holes, while Longano did birdie on No. 17.
"I didn't play very well today, I wasn't hitting the ball very well today," Williamson said. "The greens were pretty difficult. We just need to come out tomorrow and do better. We know what we need to do to win. We need to play smarter around the greens. You play to the middle of the green, two-putt for a par, and that's all you can ask for."
Despite his self-critique, Williamson did play well overall. Give the senior credit – he fought through a tough course and shot a solid 81 for the day. When he found himself in difficult spots, he kept his composure and played smart.
"You have to have good hands," Williamson said. "You gotta be able to feel out the bunkers and where you want to land it. These bunkers here are pure."
Longano and Reed each topped the team on Friday with scores of 79 (+7). Each player experienced good moments, but will be looking for more consistency on Saturday.
Piesen tallied an 83 for the day. That's an exceptional Day 1 score for a freshman. Piesen also had great moments, hitting some wonderful putts.
"For Nick to come out and shoot +1 in the first nine was a huge feat," Myers said. "He stumbled a bit on the back nine, but it was a great learning experience for him. I think he comes out tomorrow and redeems himself a bit."
Andrew Kaye carded an 86 for the Wildcats. The senior struggled to find his footing at the start, and could not recover. Look for Kaye to rebound in a big way on Saturday. In his last two appearances in the State Tournament, Kaye clipped a 79 and an 82 on Day 2. Kaye is a smart senior who will take care of business tomorrow.
Overall, the Wildcats have a lot of ground to cover. But a comeback is not impossible.
"The message to the boys is that you have to stabilize things. You need to believe that you can do something great tomorrow," Myers said. "I know and believe they can do something special tomorrow. It will be a good day. As I've said all along, this team is special. Keep the faith, go out tomorrow, and see if we can do something crazy."
Here are the complete Day 1 team results: