The Dublin Jerome High School boys golf team proved to be the most dominant squad in the Central District the previous three seasons, winning Division I district championships each year.

After Jerome was seeded second behind St. Charles in the 2009 district tournament, which will be played Tuesday at Apple Valley, first-year coach Matt Schneider said the Celtics are eager to prove that they're still the top team in central Ohio.

To win a fourth consecutive district title, Jerome will need to defeat Dublin Coffman, Dublin Scioto, Mount Vernon, Olentangy Liberty, Pickerington Central, St. Charles, Upper Arlington, Watkins Memorial and Westerville North as well as two squads from the Southeast District.

The top three teams and top three low-scoring individuals not on qualifying squads will advance to the state tournament Oct. 23-24 at Ohio States Scarlet Golf Course.

"We were a little bit shocked that we were ranked behind St. Charles, because we beat them seven of the 11 times we've played them in tournaments and we have a better record and a better scoring average," Schneider said. "Our ultimate goal is to finish in the top three to make it to state, but we really want to win this tournament to show people that we're still the team to beat. The key for us at district is to stay calm and relaxed.

If we have a bogey or double-bogey, we need to understand that it isn't the end of the round and we need to focus on making good shots on the next hole."

The Celtics fired a 308 to win the 12-team sectional last Tuesday at The Players Club at Foxfire ahead of runner-up Upper Arlington (319) for their fourth consecutive sectional title and fifth overall.
Chad Merzbacher shot a 72 to earn medalist honors.

Colin Hanner (77), Logan Jones (78), Tyler Yaple (81) and Jared Howard (85) also competed for Jerome.

"I think we made a statement at sectional," Schneider said. "We shot a mediocre score, but showed people that we're still going to be on top at sectional every year, even with a new coach and several new players."

St. Charles coach Anthony Mampieri said he's hoping the Cardinals' depth will give them an edge in the district tournament.

"We couldn't beat Dublin Jerome last year, so we've improved against them, but they've still beat us more times this year and they're still the team to beat," Mampieri said. "We don't have as strong of a No. 1 as some of these other teams, but our advantage is our depth, because there isn't much of a drop-off from our No. 1 to No. 5 players."

The Cardinals shot a 302 to win the 12-team sectional last Tuesday at Granville ahead of runner-up Mount Vernon (318).

Alex Carpenter fired a 71 to finish as co-medalist along with Mount Vernon's T.T. Crouch.

Andrew Steffensmeier (75), Michael Ricaurte (76), Daniel Wiegandt (80) and Nate Yankovich (80) also competed for St. Charles.

"The course wasn't playing big," Carpenter said. "It was a little damp in the morning because of the dew and that made it play smoother and truer. I think it was a pretty fair course. Winning the sectional puts us on the radar definitely as a team that is in contention to win state. If we can do the same at district, we'll be right on course."

After Dublin Coffman won its second consecutive sectional title last Tuesday, coach David Woodmansee is hoping the Shamrocks will challenge for the district.

But Coffman may have to compete without the services of its No. 1 golfer, Thomas Dunne, who was the OCC-Central Division Player of the Year. Dunne suffered a broken finger while tossing and catching a football with friends less than a week before sectional.

"Every time we play our objective is to win and this won't be any different," Woodmansee said. "The key is not letting adversity impact us when we have some. If we have a bad hole, we need to keep our focus and play well on the next hole. Thomas is a fantastic golfer, and it would be great if we have him back in the lineup; but we've got to be prepared to play as well as we did at sectional if he isn't able to play."

The Shamrocks won (303) the 14-team Division I sectional at Darby Creek, as Patrick Cavanaugh (71) was medalist.

Coffman's other players were Zach Elkins (76), Logan Holt (78), Satoshi Tanaka (78) and Thomas Schindler (79).

"Patrick had a fantastic score, considering the (windy and chilly) weather conditions, and he beat the rest of the field by five strokes," Woodmansee said. "We're going to keep this win in perspective, because two of last year's sectional champions didn't qualify to state, and we were one of them. With all of the upsets that happened at sectional, we're just happy to make it through."

Five of the top 11 seeds didn't qualify out of their sectionals in Pickerington North (fifth seed), New Albany (seventh) Westerville Central (eighth), Olentangy Orange (ninth) and Hilliard Davidson (11th).

Pickerington North (332) finished sixth in the sectional at Darby Creek behind Coffman, Westerville North (323), Pickerington Central (327), Dublin Scioto (327) and Hilliard Bradley (330).

Westerville North was seeded 16th, Central was seeded 10th, Scioto was seeded 18th and Bradley was seeded 29th.

Central coach Chris Cores said the weather played a role in the rise of the lower seeds.

Central was led by Connor Reed (79), Derek Beckman (82), Shane Eltroth (82), A.J. Smith (84) and Devin Pruden (85).

"It was a perfect day for upsets to happen, because it was cold and windy when the higher seeds played earlier in the day, and then the weather calmed down later in the day," Cores said. "But give those teams credit, because they shot better scores that they hadn't been shooting earlier in the season, and they did it when it mattered the most. I'm just happy that we played well enough to advance."

Scioto had a 72-105 record entering the tournament, before Josh Nelson (80), Kris Simonton (80), Jacob McPheters (81), Chris Nichols (86) and Jordan Callicotte (94) led the Irish to their first district appearance since 2003.

"There were (seven) teams seeded ahead of us at our site, and I don't think anyone factored us in as a threat because they had beaten us all year," Scioto coach Greg Snyder said. "But making it to district was our biggest goal and our kids picked the right time to have their best tournament of the year."

Upper Arlington -- the No. 13 seed -- shot a 319 to finish second in the sectional at Players Club ahead of Olentangy Liberty (322), Westerville Central (327), New Albany (329) and Davidson (331).

Leading the Golden Bears were Colin Allen (78), Kelsey Schultz (79), Andy Bean (81), Will Mason (81) and Josh Wick (85).

"That was probably the steadiest round of golf we've played as a team all year," UA coach Doug Geckeler said.

"We were 21-over par on the three toughest holes when we played this course during the regular season, but we were only nine-over par on those same holes this time around. We played smart and relaxed this time."

Liberty was led by Alex Eppley (78), Jon McMahan (79), Tanner Pontius (80), Andrew Perry (85) and Brad Hatfield (100).

"We are very fortunate to be moving on to districts at Apple Valley," Liberty coach Ryan Snivley said. "I thought that when Upper Arlington beat us by three strokes in our wave, that there was no chance to beat New Albany and Westerville Central and get out. During the postseason, anything can happen. We are very excited for next week and all we are thinking about is being top three."