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Murphy qualifies for state golf event

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Senior Grant Murphy of Bexley lines up a putt during a match on Sept. 11 at Westchester. Murphy will compete in the state tournament Friday, Oct. 12.
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It wasn't the scenario hoped for by the Bexley High School boys golf team, which will be represented by one player in the Division II state tournament rather than the entire squad.

Senior Grant Murphy will compete at state Friday, Oct. 12, and Saturday, Oct. 13, at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.

In the district tournament Oct. 3 at Granville Golf Course, Murphy shot a 75 to earn one of two individual state-qualifying berths. The Lions finished fourth (321) of 12 teams, behind state-qualifiers East Liverpool (314) and St. Clairsville (315) and third-place Watterson (317).

"The team was really disappointed," coach Jimmy Ryan said. "We just didn't have a good outing. Every one of those kids could have improved by three or four strokes. It was a collective thing. There wasn't any one person that kept us from advancing."

While Blake Prince of East Liverpool and Zach Keylor of St. Clairsville both shot 74 to share medalist honors, Murphy's 75 tied Watterson's Jon Ransone and Johnstown's John Carlisle for the top score among individuals not on qualifying teams.

The trio competed in a playoff to determine which two would advance.

Murphy and Ransone made par on the first playoff hole and moved on to the second without Carlisle to determine seeding at state.

Murphy made a par-4 on No. 2, edging Ransone by a stroke.

"Knowing I was already going to state really took the pressure off (on the second hole)," Murphy said. "I had nothing to lose at that point."

Also playing at district for Bexley were seniors Tyler Seckel (81), Jack Fowler (82), Shane Weisman (83) and Kris Craig (85).

Murphy finished early, meaning he would have to wait to see if his 75 would hold up.

"I was the first of the three to finish, so I had no idea where I stood as I was finishing," he said. "I felt great about the 75. I was worried about some very good players who were behind me who could possibly go lower than that, but I was confident in how I played."

Murphy was disappointed his teammates wouldn't be joining him at state.

"I was extremely excited to (advance), but it was kind of bittersweet knowing I'd be going to states but I wouldn't be there with my team," he said. "We were really pumped up going into this year. We really did think we had it all this year."

Murphy is scheduled to tee off on the 10th hole at OSU's Scarlet Course at 9:48 a.m. Friday, Oct. 12. Others in his group are New Lexington's Andrew Harley and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy's Jeff Britton.

According to Ryan, Murphy has the length off the tee to play well at the Scarlet Course, but keeping the ball in the tight fairways will be a key.

"He needs to put the ball in play," Ryan said. "If you get to Ohio State and you're not hitting the ball in the fairway, you're in trouble. He's very long. He can hit the ball a million miles. That will help him at Scarlet, but it will also kill him if he's not in the fairway."

Murphy had played the Scarlet Course once before this week.

"That course can really punish you if you just even miss the fairway by a couple feet," he said. "You really have to keep it in the fairway to make sure you can score there. The fairways are going to be at a huge premium this week.

"I plan to work a lot on my short game and putting (to prepare for state). The greens at Scarlet are notoriously difficult. That's probably where the state tournament can be won or lost is around the greens."

Girls golf season comes to close

The girls golf team began the season with few returning players and a few more unknowns.

The Lions ended up winning sectional and league titles.

"We did well," coach Kay Addy said. "The girls were like the Energizer bunny, they just kept going and going and kept doing things we never anticipated. I feel they were very successful."

Rachael Jackson was MSL-Ohio Division Player of the Year and will continue her playing career at Queens University in Charlotte, N.C.

Other seniors are Emily Reed and Tomania Potter.

"Rachael and Emily had a tremendous impact on the young players as captains," Addy said. "They took a lot of extra time in showing them course management, helping with swings and just making them feel a part of the team.

"We've had those three (seniors) for four years, so it's going to be hard to say goodbye. The leadership of Emily and Rachael was great. They're just really special people. They all grew as players and their influence on others was great."

The Lions finished 10th (392) in the 13-team Division II district tournament Oct. 1 at Pickaway Golf Course as Logan Elm (351), Williamsport Westfall (360) and Uhrichsville Claymont (367) advanced to state.

Jackson shot 85 to lead Bexley, followed by Reed (89), freshmen Liza Weisman (93) and Vahni Kurra (125) and Potter (132).

At sectional Sept. 24 at Blacklick Woods, Bexley finished first (375) ahead of fellow district-qualifiers Licking Valley (402), Centerburg (402), Jonathan Alder (406) and Granville (408).

The Lions won the MSL-Ohio with a 15-0 record, finishing ahead of runner-up Licking Valley (11-4).

Bexley went 60-16 on the season and finished first in its division of the MOGGL at 20-4.

Jackson averaged a team-best 40 per nine holes, followed by Weisman (43) and Reed (44).

Kurra finished with a nine-hole average of 66, but the improvements she made this season make her the favorite to take a step forward next year, according to Addy.

"She was in the 80s for nine holes at the beginning of the season and hit the 50 mark at one point this year," Addy said. "She just really improved tremendously, and I credit Emily for a lot of that, too. She kind of took Vahni under her wing and they had a nice bond."

Weisman, freshman Cassie Ziance and junior Madison Phelps also should return next season.

"Liza's stats indicate she's the most outstanding freshman in the history of the Bexley girls golf program," Addy said. "With hard work by the young players, we have a promising future."

Football team prepares for Heath

The football team fell to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in the MSL-Ohio with a 30-7 loss at Columbus Academy on Oct. 5.

The Vikings (4-3, 3-1) led 21-0 at halftime.

Bexley's Andre Stewart scored on a 3-yard run in the third quarter.

The Lions play host to Heath on Friday, Oct. 12.

The Bulldogs lost to Granville 42-14 on Oct. 5 to drop to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in the MSL-Ohio.

Heath's scores came on an 8-yard run by Kameron Herring and a 54-yard run by Marc Manning.

The Bulldogs rushed for 241 yards on 45 carries against Granville. Donyelle Simpson led with 134 yards on 33 carries.

Through six games, Jacob Old led Bexley with 230 yards rushing on 49 carries. Stewart and Patrick McClendon led the Lions with three rushing touchdowns apiece through six games, and six players had surpassed 100 yards rushing for the season.

Bexley closes the season with games at Licking Valley on Oct. 19 and at home against Whitehall on Oct. 26.

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