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Wheeling Park, Wheeling Central pace WV State Golf

T-L Photo/SETH STASKEY WHEELING PARK’S Campbell Koegler tracks his tee shot on the first hole of Tuesday’s opening round of West Virginia State Golf Championships at Oglebay Park’s Speidel Golf Club. Koegler shot a round of 6-over and sits in second place in the Class AAA event. He trails his teammate, Gavin Goodrich, by a shot. The Patriots maintain the lead in the team scoring.

WHEELING — The Jones Course at the Speidel Golf Club was not in a forgiving mood Tuesday for the opening round of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission State Golf Championship.

Despite the challenging course that featured unforgiving greens, difficult pin placements and only seven sub-80 scores among all three classes, Wheeling Park and Wheeling Central rose to the occasion and own the lead entering today’s final round at Oglebay Park.

The Patriots, who came in among the favorites in Class AAA, shot 239, which is eight better than Hurricane.

Wheeling Central, meanwhile, posted a 255, which is four shots fewer than St. Marys.

CLASS AAA

Wheeling Park, which plays a bulk of its regular season matches on the Jones course, felt fortunate to post the number it did, according to head coach Don Headley.

“The golf course reared its ugly head to say the least,” Headley said. “With the pin placements, greens and some early wind drying out the greens, (the round) became a putting dilemma.”

Still, however, the Patriots put their heads down and grinded because two of the aforementioned seven players who broke 80 play for Park.

Gavin Goodrich slept on the day one lead after shooting a 5-over, 76. He’s a shot better than teammate Campbell Koegler, who is tied for second with Cabell Midland’s Jack Michael.

“I am proud of the rounds Gavin and Campbell put forth,” Headley said. “They really were able to hold it together and made a few birdies.”

The Patriots’ other score that counted toward their team total was an 86 posted by Andrew Pennybacker. he finds himself tied for 14th overall.

Park’s Noah Milhoan rounded out the lineup with a round of 87.

“You can’t win this tournament on the first day, but you can lose it,” Headley said. “We need to go out (Wednesday) and play well and make a lot of pars. We’ve been in this position before and we realize a lot of things can still happen in that final round.”

The Patriots, who were in the second wave of AAA schools to go off on Tuesday, opened their round on the backside of the course, which was much more challenging than the front. Park’s foursome shot 26-over on the back as compared to 16-over on the front.

Park will begin the final round on the front side of the course with Milhoan going off at 10:20 a.m.. The others will follow at 10:30, 10:40 and Goodrich will round things out in the final group at 10:50.

“(Tuesday) was one of those days when you just didn’t know who was going to struggle,” Headley said. “Our approach (for the final round) is really going to depend on where the pins are going to be. We’re still going to try to hit every fairway and hit the middle of every green. We want to do our best to take advantage of the holes you can birdie, which is the exact same strategy we used (Tuesday).”

John Marshall’s Colton Sproulls is six shots off the pace after signing for an 11-over, 82. He, too, struggled on the back 9 where he posted a 10-over.

CLASS A

Wheeling Central head coach Jim Mortakis has been in the position of sleeping on the lead in the state tournament before. However, his Maroon Knights led that tournament in 2019 by upwards of 20 shots.

The Maroon Knights woke up this morning with a slim four-shot lead over St. Marys, meaning a lot can happen as today’s round unfolds.

“Sometimes sleeping on the lead can make you more nervous than playing from behind,” Mortakis explained. “Anything can happen (Wednesday), so we just need to play as well as we can and continue to make as many pars as we can.”

The Maroon Knights began the tournament on the back nine, which was far more challenging throughout the round and they made the turn at plus 24 and trailed Wahama, which opened on the front, by five shots. Mortakis cautioned his team not to panic.

“I kept telling the kids, especially Justin (Doerr) and Ryan (Costanzo) to be patient and the field would come back to them,” Mortakis said. “Both had a rough first nine, but they both rebounded well.”

Indeed.

Doeer, who is one of the favorites, shot 43 on the back, which included a bogey on every hole except for No. 10. He came home in 40 and still didn’t record a birdie.

Having said all that, Doerr finished with a 12-over, 83. However, he’s just a shot behind Parkersburg Catholic’s Blake Lewis.

Ryan Costanzo is right in the thick of the title chase. He is tied for seventh thanks to a round of 85.

Central’s Luke Tiu finished with an 87 and is in solo 13th, while Landon Prager was the fourth Maroon Knight player and he finished with an 88.

“All of our guys in a good position,” Mortakis said. “I am confident that we’ll player better (Wednesday), but I am sure that most of the teams will play better.”

The Maroon Knights will try to seal the deal today when they begin the final round on No. 10 at 9:40 a.m. Prager will be the first player off and Doerr will round things out for Central by going off at 10:10 a.m.

Tyler Consolidated’s Mason Nichols finished with a 102 and is in 27th place in the field.

CLASS AA

Keyser finished with a 247 to lead the AA field by four shots over Winfield.

Locally, Weir High’s Jude Smith posted an 86, which is 11 shots behind Keyser’s Noah Broadwater.

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