That was until Thursday at the boys golf Division III sectional tournament at Valley View Golf Club in Galion.
Catching the Wildcats on an off day allowed Jeff Calame’s team to top them by 10 strokes — and grab one of three advancing places for the district tournament at Stone Ridge in Bowling Green next Thursday.
In the end, Seneca East moved from its runner-up spot from last year to win the sectional title with a 330 team score, while Plymouth totaled a 346 for second place. New London had just enough left in the tank to finish third (356) and advance from the tournament as a team for the fourth consecutive year.
“New London is a solid team,” Calame said. “This was our day, however. We lowered our best total for the year by 10 strokes.
“My goal has always been to gear a team for post season play,” added Calame, who coached at Black River for 32 years. He retired and then took over for Doug Hopkins at Plymouth, the latter now a high school administrator.
“Doug really did the work in moving this team to what it is,” Calame said.
It was Calame who coached Eagle Creek’s Director of Golf, David Morgan, at Black River.
“David was a freshman the year I took a team to the state tournament,” Calame said. “Black River had some nice players. As I recall, I had five teams advance to the district.”
The Plymouth numbers came from seniors Jake Adams (43-42—85) and Nate Sexton (42-47—89), and juniors Brody Brown (45-40—85), Draven Kelley (45-42—87) and Zeb Finnegan (52-53—105).
New London coach Zack Parr breathed a sigh of relief when he saw his team advanced.
“We had not been playing our best the last couple weeks and it carried over again today,” he said. “It just does not seem we can put decent sides together. We’ll take a 356 and move on.
“Next is the district, and everyone knows it is the toughest one in the state,” he added.
New London’s No. 1 was an example of a player going cold and hot on different nine’s. Ben Crawshaw went out in 43 strokes — then played the tougher back side in 36 for a tournament medalist-winning 79. His classmate, Jaylen Moffit showed 39-47—86 numbers, while juniors Sean Armold (43-42—85) and Sean Andolsek (50-56—106) had their scores figured. New London’s fifth score was Luke Smith (55-58—113).
The newly-formed Western Reserve team got into the postseason mix for the first time, and continued to play anything like first-timers. Matt Jarrett was in with 47-43—90 numbers. John Skrada shot 48-49—97, followed by Luke Rowlinson (48-52—100), Camden Hankins (49-54—103) and Gary Uhler (53-65—118).
“I am elated with the progress the players have made since August,” Western coach Stoney Jarrett said. “The community as a whole is proud of what they have done. You can bet this group will spend a lot of time this summer on the golf course. They truly want to get better.”
Probably the team though that showed the most improvement from last year to this fall is St. Paul. The Flyers made a 39-stroke improvement in the sectional totals from last year.
“One of my sophomores, Nathan Juby, improved 20 strokes down here,” St. Paul coach Mike McLauighlin said. “And he is just one of the half-dozen who have vastly improved their games. Our transfer from Calvert, Jackson Cook, has had a great year and has definitely been our leader. Freshmen like Logan Amato and Luke Meyer have followed his lead.”
The St. Paul scores came from Cook (49-43—92), David Swope (61-58—119), Juby (51-60—111), Amato (55-56—111) and Meyer 58-59—(117).
The three advancing individuals to Stone Ridge are Tiffin Calvert’s Jacob Kin (88), Crestview’s Hayden McMillen, Crestview (85), and Mohawk’s Logan Drum (85).
Old Fort finished fourth on Thursday with a 366, while the rest of the field included Tiffin Calvert (371), Western Reserve (390) and Bucyrus Wynford (390), Buckeye Central (406), Crestview (411), Mohawk (424), St. Paul (431), Ridgemont (453) and Riverdale (460).