| The Repository
LEXINGTON TWP. Masks in the clubhouse. Foam in the cups. No ball washers on tee boxes, no rakes in the sand.
COVID-19 has exacted its own peculiar greens fees. Otherwise, it was business as usual for the Central Catholic boys team on the golf course.
The Crusaders cranked out another district championship Thursday and are one of the favorites to win the Division III state title next weekend. They were third in the last two state tournaments and won it all in 2014.
“If we play well (in the state tournament at North Star), I feel like we’ve got a really good shot,” 24th-year head coach Dave Oates said as the Crusaders putted out at Tannenhauf.
Oates can’t remember a Central Catholic team whose scoring average was as low as this one. Few schools anywhere have scored as well as the Crusaders did (280, a 70-stroke average) in dominating last week’s sectionals at Salem Hills.
Senior Kyle Freudeman won the sectional title with a 7-under-par 65 a week ago. His teammate Charlie Belden, also a senior, fired 66. Alex Milavickas (71) and Gavin Shamblen (78) played well.
Golf has a mind of its own in any old year.
The early-October greens at Tannenhauf were hard and fast, the wind was blowing, and scoring was on the high side.
Oates grimaced when a third Crusader missed a 5-footer on the 18th green.
Freudeman kicked himself for hooking a drive out of bounds on 14.
Belden laughed off a COVID-19 cup spitting out a putt he was sure would have dropped.
As the Crusaders talked among themselves afterward, one asked another how he played. The answer was, “Terrible.”
Some off day. District kings regardless.
“We’re just lucky to play,” said Belden, Thursday’s individual district champ. “Everything is pretty much the same, except the foam in the cups.”
Freudeman left with things to work on a week after that sensational 65.
“I was trying to play a little fade all day, and it was going in the opposite direction,” he said. “One focus going into next week is to correct the shots I hit bad today.”
The four Central scores that counted toward the district championship total of 280 were Belden’s 78, Freudeman’s 79, Shamblen’s 81 and Milavickas’ 82. Belden won a sudden-death playoff with Mogadore senior Cory Gassaway to earn his medalist honors.
“We’re pretty strong this year,” Belden said. “We think we have a good chance.”
He was talking about a state championship.
At last year’s state tournament (Ohio State’s Scarlet Course), Freudeman was on fire with an opening-round 73, then finished at 152 to lead the Crusaders and finish with the sixth-best score overall. Belden was next for the Crusaders at 162.
“Both Kyle and Charlie worked their butts off all summer,” Oates said. “They’re better overall. They don’t have blowup rounds. Their bad rounds are in the higher 70s. When they play well they’re around par.”
No one from team runner-up Gilmour Academy broke 80. Third-place Mogadore matched Central Catholic at the top two spots, getting a 78 from Gassaway and a 79 from sophomore Dillon Pendergast.
Dalton placed fifth at 366, 26 shots behind Mogadore for the final state-qualifying spot.
Preston Wenger shot 89 to lead Dalton, while teammate Brendan Lehman shot 91, and Jaden Schlabach and Trevor Horst each shot 93.
Individually, Lake Center Christian’s Thomas Fulk shot 90 to finish 23rd; and teammate Nathaniel Capeta shot 92 to finish 28th.
Reach Steve at 330-580-8347 or [email protected]
On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP