The Elida boys’ golf team enjoyed one its best seasons.
After a successful regular season that saw them capture all the tournament titles they participated in, the Bulldogs went 9-0 in the Western Buckeye League and then topped it off by winning the league crown. The team then followed it up with sectional and district crowns to earn a berth in the Division I state tournament.
Even with all the success, Bulldogs have head coach Dennis Thompson said he feels this team has not played its best golf of the season and hopes this will happen at state. The Bulldogs will begin play Friday at the Ohio State University Scarlet Golf Course.
Coming into the season, Thompson said the goal was always to make state and with the injection of the Harmon brothers, Gavin, Ethan and Carson, on to the team that became a strong possibility. The Harmons, who live in Elida, transferred to Elida two weeks prior to the season. Gavin and Ethan made state with Spencerville the past two seasons. Carson is a freshman.
Having the Harmons definitely made Elida a force to reckon with but adding top talent does not guarantee anything.
“Once the decision was made for the Harmons to come back to Elida it was pretty much laid out that we were pretty much going to have the opportunity to have a successful season,” Thompson said. “Can I sit there and say were were going to go undefeated throughout the whole year and tournament at this point, I wouldn’t have predicted that.”
Ethan Harmon and Gavin Harmon said it never gets old making state and added that the season was definitely a challenge as they moved up to play Division I talent.
“Overall our season was really great,” Ethan Harmon said. “We played really good golf lately and hopefully we can continue that at the state tournament. Our main goal at state we want to do our best, shoot low scores and finish in the top half.”
Thompson added that it has been a lot of fun coaching the team this year and also to see how well the Harmons bonded with the rest of the team.
“The transition of adding three guys was much smoother than a lot of situations would be because they all knew each other,” Thompson said. “I have known the boys since they were born. They lived in my neighborhood and Mike (Harmon, father) played for me so it didn’t take a lot of time to mesh as a group and become very supportive of one another and going on the journey that we went on.”
Yes, it didn’t hurt that the talent the Harmons brought to the team but Thompson said there was still plenty of coaching to do and with Mike Harmon, who served as an assistant coach, the two focused on different areas. Mike Harmon provided the technical know-how while Thompson dealt with the mental side of the game.
“They grew up with Mike teaching them how to play and he can look at them and say your tempo is too quick. You have to rotate your shoulders a little more,” Thompson said. “It takes me a little while to watch a kid play and see those things so Mike is on the technical end and me on the mental side. Them hearing the mental part of golf other than from their dad I think is a big plus too.”
Thompson also serves as motivator, course manager and providing emotional support during the tournaments.
“For those three guys that is my biggest contribution to their success,” Thompson said. “During the tournaments themselves you have to try and tell a player that may be struggling or just come off a double or triple (bogey) that it is OK. You teammates are there for you. I have seen a lot of teams where panic sets in and you can’t get it back and they really weren’t in that bad of shape but they panicked.”
Gavin Harmon and Ethan Harmon said the goal was to always reach state and added that it is special because they did it with their younger brother Carson.
Carson Harmon, along with Hunter Jolliff, were instrumental in the Bulldogs’ success throughout the postseason. At districts, Carson Harmon tied for medalist honors with a 74 and Jolliff came in with an 85.
“We are going to take all of our skills and show them off at state,” Gavin Harmon said. “Hopefully practicing for the rest of this week and working on what I am struggling with will help do good at state.”
Thompson added that this is especially important when during the pressure packed postseason that will be even more heightened at state.
Capturing a state title is going to take Elida’s best efforts as the Bulldogs face the best of the best on the always tough Scarlet Course with its intimidating bunkers and fast greens.
“We are in the big boys division and there are some outstanding teams that we are going to be playing against,” Thompson said. “We are matched up with Dublin Jerome and Cleveland St. Ignatius. Cleveland St. Ignatius shot 290 in their district win and Jerome shot 300 in their district win. You don’t know the course they are playing but the bottom line is a 290 is 290 I don’t care where you are at. 300 is 300.
Elida shot a 318 at districts.
“We have not played our best golf I don’t think. We have had individuals play very, very well but as a team we have not played our best and we have a level we have not gotten to and we are going to have at these two days in Columbus.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.