The first OVAC Championships of the 2012-13 school will be presented this week in Wheeling.
Oglebay Park's Crispin and Jones Courses will host the OVAC Golf Championships, starting Tuesday with the 1A, 2A and 4A schools teeing it up. The 3A and 5A members will play their 18-hole rounds on Thursday.
The three smaller divisions will play at Crispin, while the bigger divisions will play on the par 71 Jones Course at Speidel.
PICTURED ARE the five first-team all Buckeye 8 players, who are now getting ready for the OVAC?Tournament. From left are Zach Keylor (St. Clairsville), Adam Jeffries (St. Clairsville), Andrew Chlon (Martins Ferry), Taylor Shane (Martins Ferry) and Trevor Mudrak (Union Local).
Madonna is the three-time defending champion in Class 1A and favored to once again repeat under head coach T.J. Brancazio.
The Blue Dons will be joined in the field by Paden City, Trinity Christian, Bishop Donahue, Beallsville and Conotton Valley.
Steubenville Central won the Class 2A title last season despite having nary a player earn a spot on the all-OVAC squad. The Crusaders lost two players from that team to graduation, but are still expected to make a strong push toward another title.
They'll be challenged by the likes of Wheeling Central, which won in 2010, Shadyside and Bridgeport.
The Tigers are led by senior standout Adam Stupak, who shot a 75 to earn a spot on the all-OVAC team last season.
Bridgeport has had a break-through season. The Bulldogs are led by talented senior Jonathan Kreiter.
Toronto's John Michael Romey is back after finishing as runner-up medalist last season with a round of 74.
Recently retired River head coach Bob Cain is the tournament director for both Class 1A and 2A.
"I like the fact that the tournament isn't played on anyone's home course," Cain said. "All of the teams had had ample opportunity to get in a practice round or two on the course. The course is a challenge because of the hills and all of the funny hops and bounce that you can get there. I know the course is in great shape and Oglebay does a great job in making sure that the tournament is a pleasant experience for everyone involved."
IN CLASS 3A, a new champion is guaranteed since defending champion Martins Ferry has bumped up to Class 4A.
New to the division are River and Linsly, which both moved up from Class 2A.
Buckeye Trail is one of the favorites to claim its first OVAC golf title. The Warriors have enjoyed a solid season thus far and finished second last season.
The only two returning all-OVAC players 3A field are Warriors' players Jessi Roe and Justin Wilson.
Magnolia is led by senior Garrett Emch, who returned to the Blue Eagles' program after spending last year at Linsly.
The remainder of the 3A field consists of Barnesville, Bellaire, Fort Frye, Linsly, Monroe Central, River and Tyler Consolidated.
THE 4A field is deep with two defending champions in the class and a team that's yet to finish anywhere but on top of the leaderboard.
St. Clairsville is the defending champion in the class and Martins Ferry has bumped up to 4A after winning the 3A crown a season ago.
Throw in a quality East Liverpool squad, which boasts a 36-0 record, and it should be a nip-and-tuck affair in the second biggest classification.
The Red Devils, who qualified for the state tournament last season, have won two titles in a row. They claimed the 3A crown in 2010.
"They say it's harder to repeat than to win the championship," said St. C. head coach Rick Oberdick. "Our after winning the last two years, our kids have a challenging task ahead. We have been playing well this year and we have big goals. One of those is winning the OVAC. All of our players are experienced and feel confident."
St. Clairsville is led by a talented five players, including senior Zach Keylor, who is a former OVAC medalist. Senior lefty Adam Jeffries is having a fine campaign after putting forth a strong summer of play. Senior Caden Myers is another former OVAC medalist. Senior Jared Burghy is one of the most consistent Red Devils' players. Rounding out the top five is junior Seth Vannoy, who transferred from Marietta. He's a very solid player and has fired several low scores.
Martins Ferry, meanwhile, returns nearly every player from its OVAC championship squad last season.
Head coach Joe Kosar's team is led by returning OVAC Class 3A medalist Taylor Shane. The senior has been steady this season. Senior Andrew Chlon has also been an impressive player this season and throughout his prep career. Seniors Chase Stuckey, Zac Riggenbach and Kaitlyn Bliss round out the Riders' roster.
The Potters boast the defending medalist in the event. Blake Prince, who averages 37 for nine holes, is the team's leader. Freshman Isaac Davidson is another player to watch for East Liverpool.
The 4A tournament is directed by Mel Pesuit, who is in his 20th season as the Meadowbrook head coach. His team is led by Nate Frencik.
Union Local will enter one of the top individual players in senior Trevor Mudrak, who's had a strong season thus far.
Harrison Central is a team to keep an eye on.
The Huskies boast one of the field's top players in Drew Horn.
The balance of the 4A field is comprised of: Oak Glen, Steubenville, Weir and Buckeye Local.
THE 5A field will take to the Jones Course on Thursday. The players will tee off at 9:30 a.m.
Wheeling Park is the three-time defending champion and one of the favorites again this season. The Patriots are led by talented junior Thadd Obecny, who just fired a 6-under 65 at Jones Course last week.
The balance of the big-school field is made up of Beaver Local, Edison, Indian Creek, Cambridge, Brooke, John Marshall, University, Parkersburg South and Morgantown.
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