DELPHOS – At the end of the Division III boys golf tournament last week, Delphos St. John’s thought another opportunity to go to state had slipped away. The Blue Jay golfers had an up and down day and even though it was mostly good the team had been in this position before.
Last year the team missed making it to state by five strokes and prior to that there had been several other close calls. However, when the final totals came in Delphos found itself one stroke ahead Allen East to punch their ticket to Columbus.
“You coach long enough you know anything can happen and it did,” Klausing said. “There was some strange things at districts.”
Klausing points to one of his players shooting an 11 on the third hole but the Blue Jays coach told the kids, a message that he has been stressing all year, and that was to never give up. The Blue Jays didn’t and even when it looked its bleakest on the final hole, Delphos was rewarded for its perserverance.
“In golf you can go out as an individual but it is easier to go out as a team,” Klausing said. “The last hole Jack (Gerker) told me “I just need to get this on the green, putt two and get a 76. Well, he had a high flyer that went over the green and he ends up getting a 79. Individually a 78 gets you out.
“The last holes they were putting their heads’ down saying no way that we are getting out of here so it was nice when the tally came out and we got out. There have been so many years where we didn’t get out. It was a six inch putt one year that we missed where Spencerville went a couple of years ago and last year we just missed it by five ”
The thrilling ending at district capped off a season where the Blue Jays had gotten off to a slow start, steadily improved throughout the year and culminated with them finally achieving their goal of reaching Columbus.
The Blue Jays will begin play at state at NorthStar Golf Course Friday.
Delphos finished the year at 7-2 in the Midwest Athletic Conference.
Despite being MAC runner ups, Klausing said he felt his mixture of seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen could make a run at state from the progress he saw from his top six golfers.
The players proved their coach right by capturing the sectional title to advance to districts.
“The four guys have really played well this year,” Klausing said. “My senior Jeff Odenweller played really well at the beginning of the year and Trent Lindeman started kicking in these last three weeks so that is nice and even my five and six have improved.”
Klausing added that because his five and six players did well it pushed the other top four players to up their game and be competitive. He added that when you don’t have those other players pushing the top players it is hard to motivate the team.
At districts, Gerker was the low score with 79, followed by Lindeman with an 85, freshman Collin Feathers with a 91 and Jeffery Odenweller with a 93.
“We always want to make it to the final dance,” Klausing said. “We knew sectionals were going to be tough. There is going to be four teams that we knew were going to be tough and they brought Columbus Grove down to what we call the `super sectionals’ down there at Colonial and we played well enough to win that.”
Klausing credits the assistance of Cory Bertling in getting this team to state. Klausing, who coaches the boys and girls teams, relays the story of going to the athletic director and telling him that he had some talent but needed some help.
Bertling stepped in and Klausing said he assisted the players with their swings and this went a long way in paving the way to Columbus.
“That was one of the key things that helped us get over the hump and qualify for state,” Klausing said.
As the team prepares for state, Klausing said the team is working on its short game. He added that he is blessed with some players who can drive it close to 300 yards but on the Northstar course, the short game is the key to shooting low scores.
“I’m lucky that I have four individuals that can really hit the ball and at state it is a longer course,” Klausing said. “The last time I had Jack’s brother, Adam, at state it was the length of the second shot that kind of got him. These guys can hit the ball 280 and 290 so they are going to have a seven, eight or nine iron to the green.”
In addition to the short game, Klausing is also working on putting. One green stretches for 30 yards and he knows his players are probably not used to these types of surfaces.
“We worked on lag putts,” Klausing said. “Up the hill and down the hill here at the course. Sand shots as well and that is going to really save you a lot of strokes at state.”
Klausing added that the team knows they will have their work cut out for them and have played the game long enough that they know they have to stay focused.
“That is the key,” Klausing said. “You finish a hole. Forget that hole. I don’t care if you get a birdie or triple bogey. Forget that hole and move ahead and tackle the next one and at the end let’s tally it all up and see what happens.”
With the best of the best competing, Klausing is looking for a top five finish and in order for them to do that he feels the team has some good chemistry and have put in the work in the offseason and the season to accomplish this goal.