Depth was an important ingredient when the Dublin Jerome High School boys golf team won the Division I district tournament Oct. 8 at Apple Valley, and it might play a big part if the Celtics win a third consecutive state title.
Jerome shot a 299 to win the district title ahead of Pickerington North (305) and New Albany (308), as the top three teams and top three individuals from non-qualifying teams advanced to state Friday, Oct. 18, and Saturday, Oct. 19, at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
"Anytime you shoot below 300 on a course like (Apple Valley) and throw away a 78 (as a high score), you have to be happy," Jerome coach Craig Zesiger said. "We have good balance. Any one of our five guys could have our top score. They have all been strong, consistent players."
Junior J.D. Fletcher led the Celtics with a 70, followed by senior Brady Bohl (76), sophomore Grant Lewis (76), freshman Jack Herceg (77) and sophomore Adam Stephens (78).
Individual state qualifiers were Delaware sophomore Grant Godfrey (73), St. Charles junior Eddie O'Brien (73) and Dublin Coffman senior Nick Sparling (74), who won a two-hole playoff over Granville senior Nick Contini.
Sparling won the individual state championship last season.
Pickerington North will be making its first trip to state as a team after being the district's top seed for the second consecutive season. Jerome was the second seed, with Coffman third, New Albany fourth, Upper Arlington fifth and St. Charles sixth.
Coffman ended up fourth (312) in the 12-team district tournament, with St. Charles fifth (314) and UA sixth (315).
"It comes down to how our No. 4 and No. 5 guys do and they both had 84s, which was good enough to get out this year," Pickerington North coach Casey Milligan said. "Our top three guys played lights out."
Sophomore Nick Montes led the Panthers with a 72, followed by senior Scot Sapp (74), senior Alex Weiss (75), senior Zack Goodchild (84) and senior Andrew Ruehle (84).
Thanks in part to senior Avery Schneider's district-medalist score of 68, New Albany qualified as a team for the second consecutive year.
Senior Jackson Kallner was next for the Eagles with a 77, followed by junior Austin McNutt (81), senior Jackson Moss (82) and junior Matt Wininger (86).
"Hopefully our experience (at state) last year will help us," New Albany coach Andrew Norman said. "Hopefully we can grow from that experience and it helps us manage the course a little better."
Last year at state, Jerome won with a 630, one stroke better than Centerville. Coffman was third (641) and New Albany fourth (644) in the 12-team tournament.
"(Ohio State's) Scarlet Course is the whole ball of wax," said Zesiger, whose program has won five state titles, including a Division II title in its inaugural 2004 season. "Shooting par is an exceptional score at Scarlet. You have to keep away from the big scores. The team that manages to stay away from the big numbers, that's who wins at Scarlet."
Central Ohio schools have won eight of the past nine Division I state titles. Cincinnati St. Xavier won in 2008, with Jerome finishing two strokes back.
Jerome won in 2012, 2011, 2007 and 2005, St. Charles won in 2010 and 2009, UA won in 2006 and Watterson won in 2004.
"It's a meat-grinder just to get out of this district," Milligan said. "They could take a couple of more teams out of (Apple Valley) and they would have a chance to win (at state). (Pickerington North) has been on the other side looking in, (so) it feels great to finally get there as a team. These guys deserve it."