The future is bright for the Saint Ignatius golf program, as the OHSAA Division I State Tournament proved.
The Wildcats completed the two-day tournament at one of the toughest places to golf in the state – the Scarlet Course at The Ohio State University – with an eighth-place finish.
On Day 2, the Wildcats finished with the third-best team score, a 327, but it was not enough to move the needle overall from an eighth-place finish on Day 1.
Still, the solid finish shows the Wildcats will be a team to be reckoned with in the next few seasons. This year's state team, composed of one senior, one junior, two sophomores, and one freshman, is quite young and will be back in the future.
"Day 2 was much better for us. We played better as a team overall. We had the third-best team score," said Head Golf Coach Brian Becker '77. "Overall, we didn't play our best, but it's a difficult golf course and it was difficult conditions with the way it was set up and the weather conditions with the wind. I won't make any excuses – the Dublin Jerome team played very well, and they were more senior-laden. Hopefull,y in the future, we'll get over that hurdle and get everybody to well together."
Nick Longano led the team at the tournament this past weekend. The sophomore finished tied for 21st overall with an 83 on Saturday, a two-day total of 163.
"Nick Longano was stellar all weekend long in Columbus. To shoot 80-83 was fabulous for him," Becker said.
Topher Reed finished close behind with a two-day tally of 164, improving from an 84 to an 80 on Day 2. Reed had an incredible freshman year.
"Topher as a freshman, accomplishing what he did this year, is very special," said Becker.
Jake Moraca completed a special career with a great effort on Day 2.
The senior wrapped up his last day as a Golf Cat with an 82. The score gave him a total of 168 over the tournament.
"Jake was an unsung hero. As a senior at the No. 5 spot, he was a major contributor," Becker said. "His score counted both days. Looking at the No. 5 scores throughout the other teams, there was only one other guy who beat him. Jake performed as a senior should perform. He excelled, as was expected."
Andrew Kaye improved greatly on Day 2, as well. The junior worked for a score of 82, giving him 170 for the tourney. Expect him to be back in Columbus next year for the third straight season.
"With Andrew Kaye, it's always a learning experience for him. He's a strong-minded individual who will work really hard and get prepared for next year," Becker said.
Ross Williamson has a bright future ahead, too. After a tough Day 1, Williamson rebounded with an exceptional 83 on the second day. The sophomore will do great things in the next couple years.
"Ross, as much as he struggled Day 1, he shot an 83 on Day 2, and there were only eight scores under 80 on Day 2," Becker explained.
As a team, the Wildcats have plenty to be proud of.
The team competed hard all season and won a number of tournaments. The Golf Cats competed in every tournament and qualified for States, which is never easy. And on one of the state's toughest courses, the Wildcats battled hard.
"Overall, it was a very positive experience for the kids. Anytime you can qualify for the state championship, it builds confidence," Becker said. "It builds into the sense of urgency. 'What do you need to do to compete at the highest level?' Certainly, there's a lot of room for growth in our program. With the young guys we have and their ability, I think we're up for a great challenge and a great next couple of years."