Norwalk boys golf coach Wes Douglas has said many times this fall that his group is as good as any when it comes to course concentration.
That proved to be the case Tuesday at the Division I sectional tournament at the Mohawk Country Club in Tiffin when they finished fifth. That allowed the Truckers to grab the final qualifying spot for the district next Thursday at the links-style course, Red Hawk Run in Findlay.
Lexington won the sectional with a 324, three strokes better than Ashland (327). Wapakoneta was third (330), Lima Shawnee fourth (338) and then Norwalk (349).
“This capped off a great season,” Douglas said. “This was a rebuilding year for us and we showed that by winning very little. No invites, no league title ... but just learning as we moved through the season was as good as wins. When I looked at this field, I realized there was a chance — and only because these kids keep their heads in the game.”
Norwalk’s best numbers came from its No. 2 and No. 3 players, juniors Kyle Smith (42-39—81) and Zach Crane (45-39—82). After that it was No. 1, junior Carter Kluding (43-49—92), junior Gavin Koelsch (47-47—94) and senior Noah Scheel (47-50—97).
“When Carter stumbled with that 49 on the back, Zach picked him up by playing the same side in 1-over, eight straight pars — and then a bogey on 18,” Douglas said. “Playing the back in one-over is truly golfing the ball. Kyle Smith was rock solid all day, 42 going out and 39 coming back. Those are the performances that extend the season.”
Douglas admitted that getting out of Red Hawk might be a stretch next week.
“That course can get you,” he said. “Although I did see a miracle happen there in 2011 when Dustin Lieber birdied five of the last six holes to advance to Columbus (he finished seventh). I don’t know as we have the fire-power from anyone to repeat that performance.
“No matter what happens, I have players who are getting experience,” Douglas added. “It took a while for the juniors to recognize they were not playing JV golf. The same will happen next fall to the four players I have my eye on as the replacement for Noah Scheel. Senior Isaac Scheel, junior Justin Sommers and freshmen Ian Minor and Caleb Sommers are all going to be in the hunt. It is a good situation no matter how one looks at it.”
Bowling Green (358) was sixth in the team standings on Tuesday, followed by Clyde (367), Elida (370), Madison (386), Celina (413), Lima Senior (472) and Mansfield Senior (473).
The five individuals who moved on included Bowling Green’s Isaac Elsasser (82) and Conner Bergeron (88), Celina’s Lance Mawer (88), Clyde’s Ryan Gamestefelder (88) and Elida’s Riley Creps (89), Elida.