Johnstown Independent

Golf

Johnnies, Vikings boys share MBC title

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For the second consecutive season, the Johnstown-Monroe High School boys golf team tied for the MBC title.

And Northridge may have tied for its first league title.

The Johnnies won the MBC postseason tournament Sept. 17 at Apple Valley to finish 13-2 overall in the league, tying the Vikings for the championship.

"We were second (in the MBC) in 2006, and that's all we know," Northridge athletics director Wayne Howard said. "We might have won one before, but not from the records we have."

Johnstown shot a 331, followed by Northridge (335), Utica (362), Centerburg (368), Danville (385) and Loudonville (396). East Knox and Fredericktown did not field teams.

In the MBC preseason tournament Aug. 16 at Table Rock, the Johnnies finished second (360) behind Northridge (357) and ahead of Centerburg (391), Utica (393), Danville (399) and Loudonville (485).

"I'm really proud of our boys because they are such a young group that we never expected to do this well this soon," said Johnstown coach Chris Carlisle, whose team tied Centerburg for the MBC title last season. "To win a league title, it's about being consistent and practicing the day before to make sure you have shots down. We were able to do that and it allowed us to tie for the title again."

A year ago, Northridge finished third in the league. This season, the Vikings have exceeded the expectations of coach Tony Bilderback.

"We were so close (to winning the league outright) and came out with a tie," he said. "We're going in the right direction as a program. Rome wasn't built in a day, so we have more work to do."

Johnstown's John Carlisle and Northridge's Jacob Eckhardt both shot 76 at Apple Valley to tie for medalist honors. The Johnnies' freshman had a 37.5 average for nine holes in league competition to earn Player of the Year honors.

"I didn't think I would come out of the gate like this (as a freshman) and I got some lucky breaks," John Carlisle said. "(Tying for the MBC title) gives us a lot of confidence going into the postseason. Every time you have a good hole, it just helps to build your confidence."

Steven Thiel shot an 81 for the Johnnies and also was first-team all-league, along with Dalton Hastings (84). Kaden Welch (90) was honorable mention all-league. Sam Wirth (91) and Paul Michel (102) also competed.

Eckhardt and Matt Simmons (80) were first-team all-league for the Vikings, while Ethan Doon (89), Ty Choate (90) and Austin Bilderback (95) were honorable mention. Nick McConnell (97) also competed.

"I had a number in my mind as to what we should be able to shoot," coach Bilderback said. "I told them that if they shot a 345, I'd take them out to eat (for burritos) and they beat that by 10 strokes. They seem to play better when food is involved."

Coach Bilderback may have more food incentives when the Division II sectional tournaments are held Tuesday, Sept. 25. The Vikings play at The Players Club at Foxfire and Johnstown competes at Granville Golf Course.

The top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team from both sectionals advance to district Oct. 3 at Granville Golf Course.

"I believe as a team, we had eight to 10 three-putts (at Apple Valley)," said coach Bilderback, whose team finished second (160) behind Newark Catholic (157) and ahead of Utica (170) in a non-league match Sept. 19 at St. Albans. "I know you can't totally get rid of the three-putts, but you have to limit them. We could easily have saved eight to 10 shots that way and that could come up big for us if we could do that at sectional."

Last season, the Vikings finished eighth (390) in the 12-team Division II sectional at The Players Club, behind district-qualifiers Watterson (333), Hartley (347) and Johnstown (363).

The Johnnies played Sept. 22 in the Granville Invitational on the same course as their sectional. Coach Carlisle hopes that experience will lead to postseason success.

"I think playing at the Granville Invitational will be good for us, and I thought playing (at that sectional) gave us the best chance to succeed," he said. "I don't know if we will shoot well enough to get out, but I think having tournament experience close to home with a practice round three days before the event could make a difference."

The Johnnies defeated Centerburg 8-1 on Sept. 20 at Table Rock in a non-league dual with Ryder Cup-style rules. They also play Licking Heights on Thursday, Sept. 27, at Clover Valley and in the Watterson Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 29, at the same course.

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