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Published: Thursday, 10/9/2008

NWOAL sends 3 golf teams to Columbus

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Northwest Ohio in general - and the Northwest Ohio Athletic League in particular - will be well represented at the state golf tournaments beginning tomorrow.

NWOAL rivals Bryan and Wauseon took the top two spots in the Division II district tournament at Sycamore Springs Golf Course last week, while a third league school, Archbold, will be joined by Ottawa Hills after both advanced from the Division III district at Stone Ridge Golf Club.

Bryan won its district with a score of 307, 14 shots better than the second-place Indians. The Golden Bears' lineup features seniors Jacob Hollabaugh and Andy Shaffer, juniors Mike Ross and Zach Davenport, and sophomore James Steel.

Ross earned medal honors at the district with a 74, while Steel (76) and Davenport (77) also earned all-district laurels. But a sure sign of Bryan's depth is that Hollabaugh set an NWOAL record by shooting a 69 at the league tournament to earn medal honors.

"That has been a real key for us, [the good scores] don't just come from one spot," Golden Bears coach Eric Ruffer said. "We're getting a lot of good things from a lot of different players."

Wauseon's second-place effort at the district tournament clinched its first state team berth since 1988. The Indians are led by four seniors - Evan Bingham, Mike Dietrich, Matt Drummer and Kaleb Figy - along with freshman Colin Dietrich.

In Division III, Archbold took third in the district tournament with a 330, while Ottawa Hills claimed the final qualifying spot with a 339.

Ottawa Hills will be making its first appearance in the state tournament as a team since 2000, when the Green Bears finished third as Justin Kruse won state medal honors.

This year Ottawa Hills is led by seniors Joey Aubry, Chris Henningsen and Stephen Saddemi, junior Keven Walter and sophomores Andrew Jamieson and Reed Silverman. Aubry will not play in the state tournament because of mononucleosis.

"Our depth is the strength of our team," McGill said. "We are six-deep, and all six players are capable of contributing. We don't have a No. 1 or a No. 2 player per se. We can put our players in any order, and we'll be fine."

Archbold, which is sending a team to the state tournament for the first time, is led by seniors Tyler Bernath, Tyson Bostleman and Steve Kinsman, junior Jacob Nafziger and sophomore Jarrett Yoder.

Also qualifying for the D-III event was another NWOAL golfer, Liberty Center senior Conor Totzke.

This year's D-II tournament will be held at Ohio State's Scarlet Golf Course tomorrow and Saturday, while the Division III event will take place at the Players Club at Foxfire Golf Club in Lockbourne. Local D-I teams will compete in the district tournament today at Red Hawk Run Golf Course in Findlay.

This year the Ohio High School Athletic Association has split girls golf programs into two divisions, and the Division II championship will be played for the first time starting tomorrow on OSU's Gray Course.

Among the local golfers competing in that event are juniors Yang Li of Maumee Valley and Alyssa Shimel of Eastwood. They carded 75s to tie for medal honors in the district tournament at Sycamore Springs last week.

Shimel will make her second appearance at the state tournament after qualifying as a freshman and missing last year's event.

"[Not making it last year] made me work harder," Shimel said. "I've worked on my putting, and I think it is really improved. I've also completely retooled my swing. It's totally revamped, and I have a lot more confidence in it."

Li will make her first appearance in the state tournament after spending the summer revamping her game as well.

"This summer I improved my game a lot by going to a lot of camps," she said. "I worked on the mental aspects of the game as well as things like nutrition and fitness.

"And I worked on my swing as well. Last year I didn't have a good feel for my swing, and I wasn't consistent. This year I have a better feel for my swing."

The Division I girls district will be today at Heather Downs Golf Club.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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