Locals gearing up for district golf tourney

The first Ohio High School Athletic Association state tournament of the school year is just a couple of weeks away.

Two area boys teams – St. Clairsville and Martins Ferry – are still in the hunt to earn a spot in the State Golf Championships, which will be held in Columbus on Oct. 12 and 13. Also seeking a berth in the girls’ state tournament is Martins Ferry senior Kaitlyn Bliss.

The boys tournament will be held Wednesday at the 6200-yard, par 71 Granville Golf Course with the top two teams and individuals qualifying for the state tournament.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE is the defending district champions and is seeking a return trip to the state tournament.

Ironically, it’s a similar situation for the Red Devils, who finished second in last Monday’s sectional tournament as they’ll enter as underdogs.

“We feel confident we can reach the state tournament again, but we also realize we need to play our best,” said Devils’ head coach Rick Oberdick. “We were third in the sectional last year.”

Oberdick’s team, which returned four members from the state tourney squad in 2011, has been chasing East Liverpool as of late.

The Devils have finished second to the Potters in both the OVAC and sectional.

“We’ve been a little stagnent lately, but a new course, new atmosphere and different teams may bring out the best in our team,” Oberdick continued. “In golf, you’re only as good as you are today.”

The Red Devils are led by a quartet of seniors in Zach Keylor (37.8), Adam Jeffries (38.2), Caden Myers (40.5) and Jared Burghy (40.6).

The newcomer to the mix is junior Seth Vannoy (39.3), who took the spot vacated by the graduated Brice Holler.

“I believe the competition will be very strong, especially coming out of the central district since many of those teams may have played at Granville,” Oberdick said.

MARTINS FERRY, meanwhile, has put forth yet another solid season under head coach Joe Kosar. The Purple Riders finished third in the OVAC Class 4A to the aforementioned schools and then earned the sixth and final qualifying spot in last week’s sectional.

“Our boys have a great attitude going into next week after battling some good teams to qualify for the boys and girls sectional,” Kosar said. “I feel, for our boys to advance, it will all come down to keeping the ball in the fairways and everyone will have to bring their A-plus game.”

The Riders are led by seniors Taylor Shane (76.3) and Andrew Chlon (78.6). Chase Stuckey has also been a very solid contributor with a 79.5 average. Zach Riggenbach (82) and Joel Shane (88) round out the top five for the Purple.

“From what I’ve read and been able to find out about Granville, it’s like playing two different nine-hole courses,” Kosar said.

“One of the nines is very level, but the other nine is like playing around here because it’s hilly.”

BLISS qualified as an individual in the Division II sectional last week at River Greens.

She’ll play her 18-hole district tournament at the Par 71 Pickaway Country Club in Circleville on Monday.

“Kaitlyn has a great attitude heading into the district,” Kosar said. “Pickaway Country Club is a competitive, but fair course and the same for all of the players at this level, she’s got to keep the ball in play and putt well.”

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com