Lima area boys golfers head to Division III state tourney

BOWLING GREEN — Thursday was a long day for many Division III district high school golfers at par 72 Stone Ridge Golf Club.

With Ottoville’s second place finish behind Minster, head coach Keith Utendforf and the Big Green will be heading back to state for the third consecutive year with this year’s event Oct. 14 at The Ohio State Scarlet Course.

Utendforf was “extremely proud” of his team and was “happy” all his players will get to play at state. “I think our guys feel like we have set some goals for ourselves, and our group and we are starting to check some of those things off the list … this is where they wanted to be. We are really excited to play at Scarlet … and I know our guys are excited to get another chance at that beautiful course. We won the (Putnam County League), we won the sectionals, and I think that was a huge factor in how (Thursday) laid out. I commend our kids on how they have approached the year and their play.”

Utendforf credits the program’s history of winning and the high level of golf played in Putnam County to being able to recruit and develop young players.

“The program was established a long time ago with Jim Maley and Jim Brown and several others before me. It’s been a storied program, and our kids have grown up wanting to play golf and this program has taken that next step. We are hoping this drives more interest and brings more kids to play and makes us one of the more prominent programs in the state of Ohio. That’s what we are inspiring to do, and our kids are making a heck of a statement. We know we are a part of a special conference … there are a lot of quality programs in (Putnam County), and we are just one of them. We are proud and humble to be able to make that next step as a team.”

When they go to Columbus, Utendforf said “the goal is to finish a lot stronger. We want to play well … we love the course, our kids are excited to be on it. The first time we saw it, the course was pretty challenging … we’ve been able to experience what it’s like to be there at the course, so we have a plan of preparation of trying to put our kids in the best positions to play as well as they can … and try to take the steps to prepare for a much better finish this time around. We just want to play well and see where the chips land.”

Ottoville had a great season, and according to Utendforf, it’s in large part to the seniors. “I’m proud of this whole team, but I am extremely proud of my seniors and their leadership to get this team to another state tournament. Five seniors on this team and three of them helped the program get back, and these three have been to Columbus three straight years and with the help of (junior) Blake (Kortokrax) and (freshman) Evan (Altenburger), we have been able to have a really balanced team. I’m really happy for those guys and I’m really proud of our seniors for helping us get there … setting the tempo and presenting the leadership that our program wants to be about.”

Keaton Schnipke (79), Altenburger (82), Jace Langhals (83) and Michael Turnwald (89) posted scores for Ottoville’s 333 team finish. Kortokrax also played, finishing with a 94.

Louis Magoto (77), Bryce Prenger (78), Jack Meyer (80) and Tyler Stueve (87) combined for Minister’s winning 322 total. Reese Beair (90) also competed for the Wildcats.

Delphos St. John’s took home third place to make it back to state for the second consecutive year. Even after winning the MAC and the sectional tournament, the goal for the Blue Jays was not to win.

“The mindset was we didn’t have to win today, our goal was to get top four, we got third,” head coach Aaron Dubow said. “We knew it was going to be tough, so the kids hung in there and played well. Tried to keep it relaxed and fun.”

This success helps the future of St. John’s golf according to Dubow. “This is great for the program … I think the younger kids are starting to see that, and I think more kids will start playing golf, which is good for the St. John’s program.”

Collin Feathers (76), Tyce McClain (80), Jackson Kill (89) and Ashton Milligan (93) combined to give DSJ a 338 total to finish in a tie with Wayne Trace, which also advanced. Parker Will (94) also played for St. John’s.

“This year, the goal is to place in the top three and enjoy the experience, make sure they have fun, that’s what it’s all about … enjoy the three days we are down there.”

Four area players also advanced individually.

Kalida junior Robert Nartker finished one stroke behind medalist Kyle Sutton from Wayne Trace with a 71. Nartker has gone to state as a team member, but this is his first time going as an individual.

“I just wanted to be a good representative for my team and play the best I could.”

The Wildcats came up short at the sectional tournament with a fourth-place finish, but Nartker only felt a little pressure to represent the Wildcats and was happy he could go out there and perform for his team.

“I just want to play the best I can. I don’t really have a score I want to shoot. I just want to play a good round. I want to thank my coach (Kevin Stechschulte) and the team came, which was a great surprise, and everyone that came to support me.”

Senior Isaac Gallmeier from Delphos Jefferson was third overall with a 74 and will be headed to state for the first time. “Not to be egotistical or anything, but that was the goal at the beginning of the year, was to compete. I didn’t want to just make it, I wanted to compete. I took care of business today and hopefully I can do it next week.”

Gallmeier was confident that he could qualify for the state tournament before he stepped on the course. “I know I’m good enough to go to state, so I knew if I did a good job and hit greens, fairways, two putt, just get out there and if I hit a couple birdies, that’s great.” His uncles attended Ohio State University, so he has played the course before. “For my expectations, I would prefer to be somewhere in contention by the last 18 or the last nine, I just want to give myself a shot.”

The third individual that qualified for the state tournament was freshman Brevin Brandt from Leipsic, who placed fourth in the district with a 75. Brandt came into Thursday with the “mindset to grind and just not give up. Keep a positive attitude.” His Viking teammates were there to cheer him on and that gave him the confidence he needed to qualify. “I know I got my boys behind me, so I don’t (feel any pressure). I knew I came out here and played like it was just another day of golf.” In preparation for Oct. 14, Brandt said “I keep grinding, keep practicing, keep getting better. Just got to sharpen up some things and hopefully be back next week stronger than ever. Having fun is the biggest thing. It’s going to be my first time there so I’m just super excited and really looking forward to it.”

Marion Local senior Marcus Rethman was the fourth individual to qualify at Stone Ridge with a 76. Rethman “knew it was going to take a good score. I was thinking at least a 75 and I was able to finish it up with a par on 18. Was able to put up a 76 and just waited, I think I was more nervous when I was waiting then when I was actually playing.”

When it comes to representing his school and his hometown, Rethman said “it’s an honor. I think it’s a great school, great community, great environment for me to be around. I got a good coach and it’s set up for me to have a good year.” When he gets to Columbus,” Rethman said “I’m just going to go out there and play next week and have fun. My goal was to get to state and that’s perfect.”

Justin Dierkes wrote this story for Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.