Central Ohio High School Sports Awards: Super 12 boys golf finalists announced
After a fall sports season unlike any other because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, it’s time to begin honoring the athletes who stood out from their peers.
ThisWeek has selected Super teams from each of the 10 fall sports. First up is boys golf, with other teams to be announced over the coming weeks.
Each team also will have a Captain. Those honorees — our Athletes of the Year — will be announced during the Central Ohio High School Sports Awards online show at 7 p.m. July 8.
Super team honorees are finalists for their respective Captain award and should register at the event website: sportsawards.usatoday.com/centralohio.
Below is the Super 12 for boys golf.
Russell Ahmed, Columbus Academy
Ahmed, a junior, was a key member of the Vikings’ drive to a fourth consecutive Division II state title.
He earned second-team all-state honors by placing 11th in the state tournament with a 155.
Ahmed also was first-team all-district — he finished second at district with a 74 — and was first-team all-MSL-Ohio.
“Coming off an individual state runner-up finish last season and voted a (team) co-captain for this year, Russell may have felt a little extra pressure to have it all come together this year,” coach Craig Yakscoe said. “He’s very dedicated to the game and the team. He was a huge part of our team finding our identity this year. It was a tough job for this season yet the team reached its goal.”
Last season, Ahmed tied for second (151) at state behind Jamestown Greeneview’s Mason Witt (150).
Carson Bellish, Pickerington North
Bellish averaged a program-record 72.6 as a junior, including three rounds of 69, and earned OCC-Ohio Player of the Year honors with a four-round average of 71.5.
Bellish, who was Division I district medalist as a sophomore, is the first player in North program history to shoot in the 70s or better every round of a season. He was medalist at the Turnberry sectional this fall and won or tied for first in seven tournaments.
“Carson is a very hard (and) motivated worker, a great leader and very confident in his ability,” coach Steve Schill said. “He has a great work ethic, is dependable, and encouraging to his teammates. He motivates all of his teammates to get better from his example. Carson would put the team’s accomplishments ahead of his own individual accomplishments.”
Corbin Bentley, Olentangy Orange
Bentley tied for 10th (152) to lead the Pioneers in the Division I state tournament and earn second-team all-state honors. Orange was sixth (629) in its first appearance at state since its inaugural 2008 season.
The senior also shot a 74 at district to help the Pioneers win their first district title with a 298.
“Corbin loves the game, and he puts in the time after practice,” coach Jerrod Ross said. “He’ll go to the driving range after tournaments or go to the putting green to work on what he needs to. He set the bar high for himself and did what he needed to do to reach it.”
Bentley averaged 73.9 for the season. He was first-team all-league with a 72.67 average as the Pioneers won their first league title, tying Olentangy Liberty at 18-2 in the OCC-Central.
Zach Burton, Hilliard Davidson
Burton, a junior, again was the Wildcats’ No. 1 golfer as he qualified for his second Division I district tournament, shooting a 75 to tie for 11th of 72 golfers.
He earned the district berth by capturing medalist honors in a 13-team sectional, finishing first of 67 golfers with a 71.
Burton was Player of the Year in the OCC-Central with a 71.25 average, earning medalist honors with a 71 in the fourth and final round at Darby Creek.
“Zach had a great season,” coach Brett Miller said. “He is an outstanding role model for our young team. I am looking forward to seeing him play his senior year. I know he will have high expectations for himself.”
As a sophomore, Burton shot a 73 at district to tie for seventh of 72 golfers. He was first-team all-league.
Tyler Groomes, Dublin Jerome
After earning medalist honors in the 2019 Division I state tournament when he helped Jerome earn its third consecutive team title, Groomes put together the best finish of any area golfer in his division at this year’s state event as the Celtics finished fourth.
A senior and Ohio State commit, Groomes was co-Player of the Year in the OCC-Cardinal with a 72.75 league average and finished with a 75.48 average on the season. That included a sectional runner-up finish with a 73 at Denison Golf Club and then a tie for fifth (150) in the state tournament at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course.
“He’s always playing for his team,” coach Joe Flynn said. “He’s a natural-born leader and will continue to push himself day in and day out. He’s one of the most dedicated golfers I’ve seen.”
Luke Johnson, Olentangy Orange
Johnson tied for 14th (153) to help the Pioneers finish sixth (629) in their first state tournament appearance since 2008.
The junior also shot a 74 in the Division I district tournament as the Pioneers (298) won at Apple Valley.
“Luke really came into his own this year, and that probably came from the (coronavirus) pandemic,” Ross said. “He usually is playing AAU basketball over the summer but when that hit, he started golfing a lot more. That really changed his game and it started to click with him that he was a pretty good golfer. He put his nose to the grindstone and dedicated himself to doing what he could to help his team.”
Johnson averaged 76.3 for the season and was second-team all-league (74.67) as the Pioneers tied Liberty for the OCC-Central title.
Carsten Judge, Wellington
This senior helped Wellington win the Division III state championship in 2018 and earn a state runner-up finish in 2019 before qualifying for state individually this fall.
Judge, who averaged 73 this season, shot 73 to win the sectional at Darby Creek and then fired a 69 to capture the district championship at Denison Golf Club.
He followed with a 147 at NorthStar to tie for runner-up at state.
“Carsten works extremely hard in all aspects of his game to be a well-rounded player,” coach Oliver Chapman said. “He’s nowhere near his ceiling as a developing player, which is exciting. As a high school golfer, Carsten kept rising through the ranks each year he participated.”
Stephen Ma, Columbus Academy
Ma, a sophomore, helped lead the Vikings to their fourth consecutive state title.
He was the individual medalist among 72 golfers in the Division II state tournament by shooting a two-day total of 144. He became the program’s first state medalist since 1999 when Zach Doran and Stan Ferger shared the honor (144) in Division III.
Academy finished with a 615 at state to easily outdistance runner-up Kettering Alter (629) in a 12-team field. It was the program’s 11th state title.
Ma also was first-team all-district and first-team all-MSL-Ohio, helping the Vikings go 14-0 in the three-round league tournament for their fifth consecutive title.
“Stephen had a super season,” Yakscoe said. “He’s a strong leader by example and helped the team define itself.”
Brett Podobinski, Dublin Jerome
Because of the depth in Jerome’s program, this junior was the team’s No. 6 player as a sophomore before emerging as one of its top players this season.
Podobinski was runner-up with a 71 in the Division I district tournament at Apple Valley and followed by tying for 14th (153) at state as the Celtics finished fourth.
He also finished fourth in the OCC-Cardinal with a 75.75 average and averaged 75.62 for the season.
“One thing that comes to mind was when I was standing with him on the 18th fairway at Apple Valley for districts and we needed a birdie from him and he looked at me and said, ‘I’ve got this,’ ” Flynn said. “He knocked it to 15 feet and sank the putt, clinching the spot to advance us to states. That will always stick with me forever.”
Josh Qian, Westerville Central
Qian, a senior, capped his prep career by competing in his second Division I state tournament.
After shooting a 71 on the opening day to stand in second place, Qian shot an 80 the next day to end up tied for seventh (151) in a field of 72 golfers. He earned second-team all-state honors.
Last season at state, Qian tied for eighth (152) to earn second-team all-state recognition.
Qian helped the Warhawks win the program’s first OCC title, as they finished first (13-3) in the four-round OCC-Ohio tournament this fall. He was first-team all-league.
“I’m proud of everything Josh has done as a leader and a teammate for this program,” coach Kyle Baker said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for him.”
Aditya Reddy, Columbus Academy
Reddy, a junior, also played a key role in the Vikings’ pursuit of the Division II state title, as he tied for 12th with a 156.
“Aditya was also a strong leader by example by word of mouth as a co-captain this year,” Yakscoe said. “He had a fantastic season.”
Reddy shot a 72 on the first day and trailed Ma, the leader, by just one stroke.
“He had a super day one at state,” Yakscoe said. “He struggled a bit on day two, but he'll rebound and this will make him a better player.”
Reddy earned Player of the Year honors in the MSL-Ohio with a 72.5 average in the three-round league tournament. He tied for seventh (79) at district to earn first-team recognition and tied teammates Ma and Jake Stouffer for third (78) at sectional.
Leo Walling, St. Charles
Only a freshman, Walling competed as an individual in the Division I state tournament, finishing 34th with a two-round total of 159.
Walling shot a 72 at district to advance to state, leading St. Charles to third (303) behind team state-qualifiers Orange (298) and Jerome (302).
“Leo had high expectations coming into the season, but he exceeded them,” coach Brian Unk said. “I knew before he got here that he would be in the mix with our top guys after giving him lessons and seeing him at Wedgewood, where I teach.”
Walling carried a 76.3 average for the season. He was seventh in the two rounds of the CCL tournament with a 161 as the Cardinals went 8-0 in league competition to win their 13th consecutive title.