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Boys Golf

Celtics eye another state title

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Grant Lewis is one of four key returnees for the Jerome boys golf team, which is shooting for its fourth consecutive Division I state title.
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Dublin Jerome High School boys golf coach Craig Zesiger has some bad news for his team's opponents.

According to Zesiger, the three-time defending Division I state champion Celtics have better chemistry and more depth than they did a year ago.

"This is the deepest we've been since I've been here," said Zesiger, who is in his fourth season leading the program. "Our top six players can each shoot under par on any given day. This team is definitely the closest-knit group we've had in four years, too. We already have great team chemistry, the kind it usually takes months to develop.

"We're 3-for-3 in terms of winning state championships the last three years and, with the talent we have, we're going to try to make it 4-for-4."

Four players have returned to lead Jerome in senior J.D. Fletcher, juniors Grant Lewis and Adam Stephens and sophomore Jack Herceg. Fletcher has committed to Miami University.

Juniors Cam Solomon and Brett Wheeler round out the lineup.

Last season, Lewis (74 average), Herceg (74.25), 2014 graduate Brady Bohl (76) and Fletcher (76) were first-team all-league, as Jerome finished 27-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to capture its 10th league title in as many years. Stephens (78) made second-team all-league.

The Celtics, who have won a league title each year of their existence, finished first (294) in the opening round of the OCC-Cardinal tournament Aug. 7 at Turnberry.

Westerville Central (301) was second, followed by Hilliard Bradley (315), Hilliard Darby (320), Scioto (325), Westerville North (330), Westerville South (342) and Canal Winchester (415).

The second round of league play was Aug. 12 at Clover Valley.

"We've never had this much varsity experience on one team before," Zesiger said. "Jack is going to be our No. 1 player and I wouldn't be surprised to see him average around par for the season. Cam has moved up from being our No. 6 man to our No. 2 position, and J.D., Grant and Adam give us a lot of experience and depth."

Last season, Jerome shot a 641 in the 36-hole, 12-team state tournament at Ohio State's Scarlet Course to finish five strokes ahead of runner-up Pickerington North (646).

Bohl led the Celtics, finishing sixth (157) of 72 players and earning second-team all-state honors along with Stephens, who tied for 10th (160).

Also competing were Lewis (tied for 13th, 161), Herceg (tied for 21st, 165) and Fletcher (27th, 166).

Jerome became the first boys program in Ohio to win the large-school division of the state tournament three years in a row since Columbus Aquinas accomplished the feat from 1953-55.

The state championship was the Celtics' sixth. They also won Division I titles in 2005, 2007, 2011 and 2012 and captured the Division II title in 2004.

Jerome is tied with Columbus Academy for second in state titles behind Upper Arlington (16).

Also last year, the Celtics shot a 300 in the 13-team sectional at Granville Golf Course to edge runner-up St. Charles (301) for the championship and won the 12-team district at Apple Valley with a 299, finishing six strokes ahead of runner-up Pickerington North (305).

"Our goals are always to win OCC, sectional, district and state titles, and those haven't changed," Zesiger said. "This team has the potential to defend those titles, but we're going to have to earn it because nothing is going to be handed to us."

Shamrocks move on without Sparling

Coffman is adjusting to life without 2014 graduate Nick Sparling, who won the Division I state title each of the past two seasons.

Junior Keldon Fukunaga and senior Mehdy Slama have returned to lead the Shamrocks. Also expected to be key contributors are senior Michael Watson and juniors Ben Aicher and Ross Guthery.

Fukunaga (76.5 average) and Slama (79) each was second-team all-OCC-Central last year.

Sixth-year coach David Woodmansee is hoping those five players can collectively help make up for the loss of Sparling, who shot a 146 at state last year, finishing four strokes ahead of the runner-up, Jack Mancinotti of Toledo St. John's.

Sparling also was the OCC-Central Player of the Year for the second consecutive season last fall with a 69 average.

"We lost a lot of really critical players, including the defending state champion, to graduation, and obviously it's going to be really challenging to replace those guys," Woodmansee said. "But we have an extremely tight group of kids who do things the right way and I think we have the potential to do some special things this year."

The Shamrocks finished third (317) in the first round of the OCC-Central tournament Aug. 7 at Clover Valley, behind Olentangy Liberty (310) and Upper Arlington (315) and ahead of Hilliard Davidson (323), Marysville (329), Central Crossing (341), Thomas Worthington (347) and Westland (429).

The second round was Aug. 11 at Turnberry.

Coffman won the OCC-Central title last year, going 28-0 as UA (23-5) placed second. It was the Shamrocks' fourth league championship in five years.

Also last year, Coffman finished second (304) in the 13-team sectional at Darby Creek behind New Albany (299) and placed fourth (312) at district, finishing four strokes behind the third and final state qualifier, New Albany.

"We want to get better as we go along so we can hit our stride and be a factor in the postseason," Woodmansee said. "The OCC-Central is the toughest conference in the state. UA returns everybody and they are one of the top two teams in central Ohio, if not the entire state. Liberty is really strong, too, so it will be a big challenge to defend our league title."

Irish look to improve under new coach

Todd Hardesty has taken over as Scioto's coach, replacing Roger Murphy.

"I missed coaching after taking some time off and this is a group of fantastic kids, so I figured this job would be right up my alley," said Hardesty, who coached the school's girls basketball team from 1995-2000 and again from 2002-10. "The most important thing is that the kids have fun and keep getting better."

The roster is comprised of senior Harshil Amin, juniors Sam Humphries, Blake Moody and Joey Nave, sophomore Austin Dyson and freshman Nic Rath.

Last year, Dyson earned second-team all-OCC-Cardinal honors with an 81 average.

"We have lots of varsity experience, even though we're young," Hardesty said.

Scioto placed fifth (325) in the first round of the OCC-Cardinal tournament Aug. 7 after finishing fourth (14-14) in the league last year.

The Irish finished 11th (341) in the 13-team Division I sectional at Darby Creek last season.

"Our goal was to break 320 in our first OCC tournament and we didn't get there, but I think a 320 or better will happen for us soon," Hardesty said. "We're in a very tough division of the OCC, with Jerome leading the way, but we're eager to get ourselves into the upper portion of our division. If we keep improving and play really well at sectional, who knows, maybe we'll be able to scare up a district appearance this year."

SCHEDULES

COFFMAN

Aug. 6 -- Upper Arlington Killer B at Darby Creek

Aug. 7 -- OCC-Central at Clover Valley

Aug. 8 -- Mount Vernon Invitational at Chapel Hill

Aug. 9 -- Steve Youmans Classic at Oakhaven

Aug. 11 -- OCC-Central at Turnberry

Aug. 12 -- Dublin Invitational at Golf Club of Dublin

Aug. 14 -- Centerville Invitational at Yankee Trace

Aug. 16 -- Cincinnati Sycamore Invitational at Blue Ash

Aug. 18 -- Gahanna Invitational at Little Turtle

Aug. 19 -- New Albany Invitational at Winding Hollow

Aug. 23 -- Cincinnati Moeller Invitational at Walden Pond

Aug. 26 -- Olentangy and Olentangy Liberty at Kinsale

Aug. 27 -- OCC-Central at Darby Creek

Aug. 30 -- Golden Bear Invitational at Pinnacle

Sept. 6 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside

Sept. 8 -- Wooster Generals Invitational at Wooster Country Club

Sept. 10 -- OCC-Central at Apple Valley

Sept. 13 -- Upper Arlington Invitational at Scioto Reserve

Sept. 20 -- Trojan Invitational at Findlay Country Club

Sept. 27 -- Watterson Invitational at Tartan East

Oct. 4 -- Jerome Honorary Invitational at Riviera

JEROME

Aug. 6 -- Westerville Central Invitational at Little Turtle

Aug. 7 -- OCC-Cardinal at Turnberry

Aug. 9 -- Cincinnati St. Xavier Invitational at Makatewah

Aug. 12 -- OCC-Cardinal at Clover Valley

Aug. 14 -- Centerville Invitational at Yankee Trace

Aug. 19 -- New Albany Invitational at Winding Hollow

Aug. 23 -- Cincinnati Moeller Invitational at Walden Pond

Aug. 27 -- OCC-Cardinal at Apple Valley

Aug. 30 -- Golden Bear Invitational at Pinnacle

Aug. 31 -- Murfield Village Invitational

Sept. 6 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside

Sept. 8 -- Wooster Generals Invitational at Wooster Country Club

Sept. 10 -- OCC-Cardinal at Darby Creek

Sept. 13 -- Upper Arlington Invitational at Scioto Reserve

Sept. 14-15 -- Kiely Cup at Canterbury

Sept. 20 -- Trojan Invitational at Findlay Country Club

Oct. 4 -- Jerome Honorary Invitational at Riviera

SCIOTO

Aug. 7 -- OCC-Cardinal tournament at Turnberry

Aug. 9 -- Steve Youmans Classic at Oakhaven

Aug. 13 -- Marysville Invitational at Marysville Golf Club

Aug. 14 -- Weiss Invitational at Ashland Country Club

Aug. 12 -- OCC-Cardinal Clover Valley

Aug. 18 -- Lion Invitational at Jefferson

Aug. 27 -- OCC-Cardinal at Apple Valley

Aug. 30 -- Worthington Christian Invitational at TBA

Sept. 6 -- Hilliard Invitational at Darby Creek

Sept. 10 -- OCC-Cardinal at Darby Creek

Sept. 15 -- Mount Vernon at TBA

Sept. 18 -- Marysville at Marysville Golf Club

Sept. 27 -- Howlett Invitational at Worthington Hills

Oct. 4 -- Jerome Honorary Invitational at Riviera

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