Boys Golf: League title boosts St. Charles' confidence

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
St. Charles' Jason Zehala chips onto the first green during the CCL postseason tournament Sept. 27 at Denison Golf Club. The Cardinals captured their 13th consecutive league title and entered the Division I postseason as the No. 1 seed.

Fresh off winning its 13th consecutive CCL championship, the St. Charles golf team entered the postseason as the Central District’s top squad in Division I.

The Cardinals earned the No. 1 seed, ahead of No. 2 Dublin Jerome, No. 3 Olentangy Liberty and No. 4 Olentangy Orange. They began the postseason in a sectional Oct. 6 at Darby Creek, where the top four teams and top four individuals not on those teams advanced to the district tournament Tuesday, Oct. 13, at Apple Valley.

Coach Brian Unk said playing a low round in the CCL postseason tournament Sept. 27 at Denison Golf Club was just what his team needed to overcome its midseason doldrums.

“We started the season really strong, but just like every year our games haven’t been as strong once school started,” Unk said. “We go from playing and working on our game every day to playing in one tournament a week, and the kids also are dealing with all of their schoolwork. It can take a toll.

“We’d just played on three of the toughest courses in our schedule — Scioto Country Club (against Upper Arlington on Sept. 19), Canton Brookside (against Akron Hoban on Sept. 21) and Tartan Fields (Jerome Honorary on Sept. 26) — and we had some scores that we’re not used to seeing. Playing well (in the CCL postseason tournament) was a big thing for our confidence.”

The Cardinals shot a 299 at Denison Golf Club to finish ahead of Watterson (333), DeSales (340), Hartley (351) and Ready (506). They also finished first in the CCL preseason tournament with a 306 on Aug. 19 at Hickory Hills and went 8-0 over the two rounds.

St. Charles was followed by Watterson (6-2), DeSales (4-4), Hartley (2-6) and Ready (0-8).

Junior Brandon Nowery shot a 71 to earn medalist honors in the postseason tournament. He also was the overall medalist with 146 in the two rounds.

Senior Luke Gutman shot 73 (154 overall), with senior Jason Zehala shooting 77 (151) and senior Reece Yakubov shooting 78 (155).

“Denison was playing tough,” Gutman said. “We were pretty happy with our scores, especially after playing three of the toughest courses in the state. It’s the first time that we were all in the 70s since (the) Findlay (Invitational on Sept. 12). It’s a good confidence-booster.”

Last season, the Cardinals finished fourth (310) at district as Jerome (300) and Liberty (303) qualified for state. Jerome went on to capture its third consecutive state title.

Yakubov shot 71 to lead the Cardinals at district, followed by Zehala (79) and Gutman (80).

“That was devastating (missing state last year),” Zehala said. “We had a really good team last year as well, but we didn’t play well at district. This year’s team is better, older and we kind of know what we’re doing.”

Zehala said it comes down to the Cardinals having confidence in their abilities on the course.

“(Unk) has been telling us to have confidence in our games,” he said. “We have seven really good guys, but we need the confidence to go out and do what we normally do.”

Unk hopes his team now has the right mindset.

“In the beginning of the year, we had won a lot of tournaments,” Unk said. “We had 14 events with seven wins, five seconds and a fourth.

“We just have to get back to playing the way we were then. Winning the league is a step in the right direction.”

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