LIMA — The Lima Central Catholic boys’ golf program has been a very regular participant at the state golf tournament for the last 15 years.
The Thunderbirds’ trip to state this weekend, they will play Friday and Saturday at North Star Golf Course in Sunbury, will be their 13th in the last 15 years. They have brought home state runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2011 to go along with state championships in 2002, 2003 and 2005.
So the T-Birds are no strangers to the pressure of the state tournament and may have had the bull’s-eye removed from their backs after a less than stellar district performance.
LCC was the last of four teams to qualify from the Stone Ridge Golf Club (Bowling Green) district following one of their worst performances of the year. The T-Birds advanced with a team score of 327 following a 297 in the sectionals.
Coach Brock Howe isn’t concerned with the district performance.
“We have come back from bad rounds this year with some of our best scores,” Howe said. “We want to be in the hunt on Saturday, our last couple of trips the first day has really hurt us. We have played well the second day but have been too far behind. You can’t win it on the first day but you can definitely shoot yourself out of contention.”
The T-Birds boast four seniors in their lineup and all have played in the state tourney and also at North Star.
“We’re not a favorite so we won’t put too much pressure on ourselves,” James Riepenhoff said. “We know we can score, we just need to go out and play; we’ll try to play it like a Sunday round with friends.”
Westin Young says the T-Birds will try to have fun.
“We’re not expected to win; we just need to put four scores together.” Young said. “It’s just another tournament with a fancy title; we’ve got to have fun.”
Jim Thatcher looks forward to playing at North Star.
“Something about the course relaxes me; we want to relax and just play to the best of our ability,” Thatcher said. “We’re glad we made it, the job is not done yet; we want to focus on our goal to win state.”
Liam Stolly is looking for good things this weekend for the T-Birds.
“We are very balanced; our number three through five golfers can all go low.” Stolly said. “We must stay focused if we have a bad hole; we are capable of going after it.”
Some obvious teams are favorites coming off of district performances. Gahanna Columbus Academy (304), along with Columbus Wellington School (311) and Ottawa Hills (311) will be among the favored teams.
LCC will begin tournament play at 9 a.m. Friday teeing off from the 10th hole.