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Norwalk wins SBC Lake division tournament

By KEVIN SHIELDS • Updated Sep 21, 2017 at 11:56 PM

FREMONT — As long as it wasn’t a Par-3, Norwalk was just fine during Thursday’s Sandusky Bay Conference Lake division tournament.

But on three different Par-3s, three different golfers recorded eights early into their rounds, making Truckers coach Wes Douglas think any shot a team title was over.

“That’s what I was hearing early,” he said. “But sometimes you never know until you add up the numbers.”

Jared Kessler shot a 3-over 75 to finish runner-up to Shelby’s Dalton Boyce. He and Braden Nunez (79) both made the first team, while Grant Fisher (83) and Cam Nickoli (84) each were second-team finishers as Norwalk shot a 321 to top division-leader Clyde’s 327.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Douglas said. “We saw a couple birdies on the guy’s last few holes. A couple of them really grinded it out.

“Jared obviously had a good round and for Brady that’s solid, even though he’d tell you a 79 is like 110, but he’s first-team All-tournament,” he added. “Then Grant Fisher got hot the last 10 holes.”

Boyce entered Thursday, ranked 21st in average in the Lake division, but shot an unbelievable even-par round of 72 to finish as the lowest golfer in all three divisions.

Kessler, third in the division in average, behind Nunez and leader Trevor McCarthy of Tiffin Columbian, put himself to in good position to steal the golfer of the year title on Wednesday when the Truckers battle the Fliers to finish the season. McCarthy didn’t finish in the top 10.

But Clyde’s second-place finish clinched the Lake division championship, as the Fliers entered the tournament up two points on the Truckers who needed someone to slip between them to have Wednesday’s match determine who got first.

“We’re excited about what we did today,” Douglas said. “But hats off to Clyde, we needed Shelby or someone to slip in there because even if we win now on Wednesday, we’ll finish half a point behind.”

Norwalk lost a pair of matches to Clyde and Columbian by a single stroke, despite having a nine-hole average that was 10 strokes better than the whole division.

Bellevue’s Jacob Tiell was third with a 76, while the Fliers’ Ian Hilliker and Ben Hohenstein finished in a three-way tie for fourth with Nunez at 79.

Overall, Shelby was third with a 332, Perkins fourth at 339, followed by Bellevue at 347, Columbian at 353 and Sandusky at 498.

As for Kessler, steady and consistent play were the keys.

“I drove the ball pretty well today, and I also putted well, which is pretty much the two big keys to playing well,” he said. “I kept the ball below the hole for the most part, so I was able to score.”

His highlight hole was the Par-4, No. 11.

“I hit a bad tee shot where I was maybe 15 yards short of the creek,” Kessler said. “I ended up sinking like a 15-footer for par. That was huge. That kept the round going and gave some momentum for the rest of the round.”

Thursday’s play has been consistent with his scores of late.

“It’s been peaking. I had a bad stretch during maybe the second or third week of the season,” Kessler said. “Since then, I’ve kind of been slowly getting better. So I feel like I’m peaking at just the right time.”

For Bellevue, Jacob Volkman had a 43, followed by a 45 from Nate Fox and a 49 from Grant Vickery.

In the Bay division, Vermilion won the team title with a 330 to wrap up the overall division title.

Margaretta shot a 336 to finish second, led by individual medalist Oliver Thomas. Thomas and and Vermilion’s Reese Miller each shot a 77, with Thomas paring the first playoff hole to break the tie.

Edison’s Thomas Oeder tied for seventh to make the second team with an 86. The Chargers were fourth with a 366 as Casey Fair and Ryan Nealey shot 89s and Aiden Hall shot a 102.

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