Familiar faces capture Niekro Classic crowns

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – There are some times things change, and then there are some times they don’t.

Take Friday’s 16th annual Niekro Classic golf tournament.

After a couple of years of re-adjusting their lineup, the foursome of Anthony Reasbeck, Todd Schambach, Gary Young and Donnie Cash ran away from the 34-team field. They carded a scorching 16-under 56 on the spacious Belmont Hills Country Club layout in capturing the Open Division by half-a-dozen strokes.

The team of Chuck DeMatte, John Becca, Gary Schrickel and Mark Molnar.

Reasbeck and Cash were part of winning teams several years ago in the Bridgeport-only Division.

“We’re back,” Reasbeck, the team spokesman, proclaimed. “It’s been a couple of years, but we’re back on top, and we plan to stay there.”

In addition to Reasbeck and Cash, both Martins Ferry graduates, the team was comprised of Todd Schambach and Gary Young.

“Gary made putts from here to that tree,” Reasbeck said pointing to a distance approximately 100 feet away. “He was unbelievable. He really was.

“Todd played great. He hit the ball straight down the fairway and Donnie did a good job of driving (the cart), as well.

“We didn’t play bad as a team, and that’s what it takes in an event like this,” Reasbeck noted.

The foursome carded back-to-back 28s, which was pretty impressive on the hilly layout under hot and humid conditions.

In the Bridgeport-only Division, the quartet of Jonathan Kreiter, Bailey McGrath and the Herink brothers – Matt and Zach – combined to fire a 10-under-par 62. That was a single stroke ahead of the team made up of Jim Fisher, Dean Burke, Kurt Frasnelly and Mike Vargo.

“We hit the ball really well off the tee and we were fortunate to putt well,” said team spokesman Kreiter. “There wasn’t really any pressure on us to defend our titles, but we played well.”

There was a slight adjustment on their team, as well.

“We lost the Herink’s dad (Jeff), but we picked up Matt and he did really good,” Kreiter added. “We’ll be back again next year.”

The 62 was also good enough to tie for second place overall.

Classic organizer Gordie Longshaw couldn’t come up with enough adjectives to describe Friday’s tournament.

“What a great day,” he professed. “The weather was great. We had 34 teams and we raised a lot of money for BEAF. You couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Although the tournament’s namesake, Phil Niekro, regrettably couldn’t be on hand, Longshaw said he was pleased with the turnout.

“Everything went as scheduled,” he said. “The golfing was good and Outback did a great job of taking care of the golfers’ dinner.”

BEAF stands for the Bridgeport Educational Assistance Foundation which helps students of the district with reading problems. The tournament has raised more than $150,000 in its previous 15 years.