SPENCERVILLE — It was a nerve-wracking Division III District last Thursday for Spencerville’s Mike Harmon.
The Bearcat golf coach, who’s team finished early, had to wait see if it would be heading to the state tournament and after a nail-biting two hours Spencerville found out it qualified for state by a single stroke.
The Bearcats celebrated the accomplishment and now they have a whole new reason to be nervous as they prepare to compete on high school’s biggest golf stage.
“It is uncharted territory so we are going to have to hopefully keep the kids calmer in this one because there are going to be some nerves but I don’t think any more than the last couple of weeks because they have been building to this,” Harmon said.
Spencerville’s postseason run began with the Bearcats winning the Northwest Conference tournament, taking home first by eight strokes, and then they followed it up by taking the sectional title with a 332. The district saw the Bearcats finish fourth overall with a 341, finishing one stroke ahead of five teams with 342.
“That was probably the most nerve-wracking I have ever sat at the end of a tournament,” Harmon said. “Most of the other tournaments, whatever the results are, you play the next day. This one we are hanging out hoping to stay alive and being one of the first groups in made it worse.”
Early in the season, Harmon saw the potential in this team which hit a snag midseason but came around once the postseason began.
“Mid season I didn’t think we were there but in the last couple of weeks beginning with the NWC tournament it kind of got them going and then they really saw that they could do this,” Harmon said.
Ethan and Gavin Harmon, sons of the coach, have led the team and the two have spearheaded Spencerville’s successful season.
Ethan Harmon shot a 77 at sectionals and then followed it up with a 79 at districts. Gavin fired an 81 at sectionals and an 83 at districts.
Both Harmon boys got plenty of action participating in the Lima Junior Golf Association this past summer.
“Tournaments are nothing new to them,” Coach Harmon said. “They have been playing since they were little guys so they kind of lead the team. It helps us because sometimes it feels like we have two No. 1 men. In our nine hole matches we would be so far ahead because of those two guys that we felt pretty confident we were going to win.”
Coach Harmon said the brothers push each other and also serve as leaders by example for the team.
“Their scores do all the talking,” Coach Harmon said.
While these two have posted the low scores, Coach Harmon said it has been the other golfers that have stepped up their game to help make Spencerville history.
Coach Harmon said junior Drake Mertz, the Bearcats No. 3 golfer, has come on strong this year. At districts Mertz shot an 85 and that was better than his average the Bearcat mentor said.
Alex Gallman and Collin Davis have also contributed to the team’s success. At districts, Davis finished with a 94 and Gallman shot a 106.
“Those two have been in and out of our fourth score,” Coach Harmon said. “Golf is nice because you can have room for one guy to slip up and we have been fortunate to have someone there to post a respectable score to keep us winning.”
Making school history by taking a team to state is a great accomplishment that Harmon said he is proud of doing but he also said the Bearcats want to possibly add to that legacy at state.
“Spencerville has seen a lot of people in track and wrestling make it as individuals but it is definitely special to do as a team,” Coach Harmon said.
And what does Spencerville have to do to make an impact at state?
“I think the bottom two guys have to be a little better,” Coach Harmon said. “I think our top two need to be in the 70s and our bottom two need to be 85 or below and that is realistic.”
Aaron Belcher’s dream became a reality when he qualified for state after shooting a 78 at the District III tournament Thursday. It was one stroke ahead of the cut.
The Bluffton player, who didn’t make a birdie or par, said he knew he had a chance to make it state and was a little nervous coming down the stretch but kept his composure and hit a crucial par putt on the 18th hole that would lead to his state qualifying score.
“I have been working ever since the end of my sophomore year,” Belcher said. “I have going to summer golf tournaments and just out practicing for this moment and if I would make it it would mean so much to me and that has always been my goal.”