Boys Golf: Westerville Central breaks through with banner season

FRANK DIRENNA
ThisWeekSPORTS.com
Grayson Harris of Central lines up a putt during the third round of the OCC-Ohio tournament Aug. 26 at Turnberry. Harris, a senior, averaged 83.5 in OCC-Ohio play to help the Warhawks win their first league title.

Since opening in August 2003, Westerville Central has celebrated its athletic success with banners in the school gymnasium recognizing team and individual feats.

The boys golf team will be the next program recognized after securing its first OCC title.

The Warhawks finished first in the OCC-Ohio Division at 13-3, ahead of Grove City (11-5), New Albany (7-9), Pickerington North (5-11) and Gahanna (4-12).

"I'm excited for the program and for the school, but most importantly for the kids and the fact that their hard work paid off for them," eighth-year coach Kyle Baker said. "At some point we're going to get that boys golf 2020 conference championship (banner) up there in the gym that will be up there forever. I told the kids that's something they can never take away from them."

Senior Josh Qian, who had a season-low 69 in the third round of OCC-Ohio play Aug. 26 at Turnberry, was first-team all-league with an average of 73.

Individual league awards were based on golfers' averages from their top three rounds in the four-round tournament.

Last season, Qian was OCC-Buckeye Player of the Year with a 72 average in league play. He also earned the honor as a sophomore.

Junior Ryan Dollenmayer (75.25) was first-team all-league and senior Quinn Gallagher (77.5) was second-team all-league.

Other golfers are junior Brady Urian (81.67), freshman Andy Wang (82), senior Grayson Harris (83.5) and junior Nick Van Allen (91).

Harris, who was on the j.v. team a year ago during his first season in the program, said he was happy with his performance and the team's success.

"It feels really good, it feels nice," Harris said of the league title. "It's definitely good to get this experience with all the other guys. With me being a first-year guy on varsity, I know how hard they've worked and it's definitely rubbed off on me. We've all been working hard for this title."

Central played the first round Aug. 6 at Darby Creek without Qian and Urian.

"That's a tribute to the program, a tribute to my j.v. coach (Jim Kloepfer) who's done a good job and a tribute to the kids being able to step up when they were asked to be able to step up, including a freshman (Wang) and a junior (Van Allen)," Baker said. "It was good for them to get some experience because we're going to need some help next year when we lose some guys."

The Warhawks will now prepare for the postseason, with Qian looking for a return trip to the Division I state tournament Oct. 23 and 24 Ohio State's Scarlet Course. Last season, Qian became Baker's first state qualifier, tying for eighth (152) of 72 golfers.

Central will compete in a sectional Oct. 6 at Darby Creek or Turnberry or Oct. 7 at Denison Golf Club. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 13 at Apple Valley.

"Every year our goal is to get to the state championship, but with central Ohio golf it's just so difficult to try to get there," Baker said. "We're just taking it one step at a time. We're going to use this time to practice as hard as we can, compete in these last few tournaments and just try to be as prepared as we can once sectional comes."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank