COLUMBUS — The predictions came true.
Before the players on Lima Central Catholic’s girls golf team even got to high school great things were predicted for them.
Saturday, the Thunderbirds smiled and posed for pictures with the Division II state championship trophy for a third consecutive year after finishing 53 strokes ahead of runner-up Tuscawaras Valley.
LCC had a team score of 630. Tuscawaras Valley shot a 683 and third-place Shaker Heights Laurel finished with a 689.
No other Division II girls golf team in Ohio has ever won three team titles in a row. In fact, LCC was the only Division II team ever to go back-to-back before this year.
Seniors Mary Kelly Mulcahy and Erin Mulcahy shot 73-74-147 and 75-74-149 on Ohio State University’s Gray Course to lead LCC and were named first-team All-Ohio.
Emma Mayers had an 85 on Saturday for a 36-hole total of 165. Bridget Mulcahy shot 82-87-169 and No. 5 player Carlie VanMeter had an 87-88-175.
Most athletes feel lucky to experience one state championship. A fortunate few have enough of them to be able to compare them.
“They’re definitely unique,” Erin Mulcahy said. “The first team was a totally different team. And for the past two years it’s been different but this year I think it’s the most special. It’s our senior year and we all practiced really hard to go out and get this one.”
Mary Kelly Mulcahy said, “Every year it’s just greater being able to do it again. Coming back every year and being able to win the past three years is something I hoped would happen but never would have imagined happening.”
LCC took control of this year’s state tournament by building a 30-stroke lead in Friday’s opening round when it shot a Division II-record 310. The Thunderbirds had a 320 on Saturday, which was only two strokes above the previous 18-hole record, which they shared.
“After yesterday we all just said, ‘Now we have to go out and just play. You just have to shoot a score, we’re all good enough to go out and play our best again. We might as well do it,’ “Mary Kelly Mulcahy said.
LCC coach Dan Reinicke said low scores in the first round also played a part in LCC’s championships in 2019 and 2018.
“I know they wanted to do better today than they did Friday but the past two tournaments we’ve won we’ve always played better the first day. They always say you can’t win it on the first day but you can lose it and we always wanted to put it in a position where we didn’t have to worry about it too much on the second day,” Reinicke said.
The almost universal expectation they would be holding another state championship trophy was not a distraction, Erin Mulcahy said.
“I didn’t feel any pressure necessarily this week but at the beginning of the season I think we had a lot of expectations on us to do good. And when we started going and playing good everyone was expecting us to keep that up. So that was a little pressure but it was nothing negative, it was like good pressure,” she said.
Even a significant change in their academic schedule because of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t disrupt the Thunderbirds’ season.
After several LCC football players tested positive and missed two games in early September, the girls golf team decided to go to online learning.
“That’s when they put themselves in a bubble,” Reinicke said. “They went and talked to the principal and the principal decided that was a good idea, based upon how well they were playing.”
St. Henry’s Ellen Naumann shot 76-74-150 to finish in a tie for ninth overall and was third among golfers playing as an individual. She was named second-team All-Ohio.
Boys Division III
Lima Central Catholic’s eighth-place finish in the Division III boys state golf tournament at NorthStar Golf Course on Saturday was the best among three area teams.
Allen East’s Zach Miller, playing as an individual, added a 75 on Saturday to the 81 he had on Friday for a 156, which put him in a tie for No. 12 out of the 72 golfers in the field. He was the No.4 player who was playing as an individual.
The Thunderbirds shot 692 for 36 holes, led by Parker Judy’s 81-84-165. Alex Wisser shot 83-89-172, Ross Otto shot 88-86-174, Casey Koenig finished at 96-92-188 and Brady Koenig shot 105-96-201.
Minster was tenth with a 724. The Wildcats’ scores were: Joseph Magoto (85-81-166), Brady Hoelscher (89-85-174), Ray Purdy (94-94-188), Nathan Beair (98-92-190) and Eric Schmidt (94-101-195).
Delphos St. John’s was twelfth with a team score of 765. The Blue Jays’ scores were: Jack Gerker (85-88-173), Collin Feathers (93-91-184), Jeffrey Odenweller (91-94-185), Caden Wright (108-118-226) and Nathan Gable (112-115-227).