GRANVILLE — Powered by Drew Salyers’ 71 on the day, the East Knox Bulldogs golf team finished fourth in the Central District Tournament Wednesday in Granville at the Denison Golf Club, but the team did not advance to the state tournament.
“It’s obviously bitter sweet. No one likes to see the end of the season,” East Knox coach Alan Keesee said. “We had a couple goals this season and we really exceeded those goals.”
Those goals for the Bulldogs were to make a push in the Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference, which the team won. They also wanted to make some noise in the postseason, and making it to districts and placing fourth definitely accomplished that goal in Keesee’s eyes.
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Making a charge to fourth was not the easiest feat. Teeing off at 9 a.m., there was fog for several holes for the Bulldogs, and much of the course was wet for a portion of the 18-hole round.
“The front nine was a little sluggish because of the rain and the greens were a little slow,” Keesee said. “But, our team responded with a better back nine.”
“He’s a competitor. He is going out there and play the best he can with the top guys,” Keesee said. “He does set the bar high. He is a special golfer.”
Salyers’ 71 tied him for second. He was in line to take the top spot and qualify for the state tournament as an individual, until the second wave of players came in. Worthington Christian’s Tyler Jones snagged the top spot as an individual with a 68, nudging Salyers out of state contention. Fellow Warrior Will Evans also carded 71. Evans and Salyers went to a playoff hole and the Bulldog won on the first hole, securing runner-up medalist.
“As disappointed as he was, he was going to grit his teeth and compete,” Keesee said. “When it’s time to compete, he competes. That’s his character.”
Behind Salyers for East Knox, James Kirk turned in a 44 on the front nine and a 46 on the back nine to return to the clubhouse with a 90. Nathan Friel was not too far behind, carding a 93 (50-43).
“I thought James and Nathan responded well,” Keesee said. “They both had good grit and determination. They just took it one hole at a time.”
Rounding out the Bulldogs, Mason McCauley shot a 100 (51-49). Austin Beckett turned in a 49 on the front and ended with a 55, turning in a 104 on the day.
Cardington also competed in Granville, taking sixth with a 387. Logan Doubikin led the Pirates with a 92 (46-46) and Cayman Spires was not far behind with a 95 (48-47). Jacob Spires carded a 98 (45-53) to come in under the century mark. Danny Vaught finished with a 102 (55-47) and Christian Hand shot a 111 (52-59). Northmor’s Hayes Bentley was an individual qualifier for districts, carding an 83 (41-42).
As a team, East Knox finished with a 354. They beat out the other two teams in their group in Cardington (387) and Newark Catholic (359). The trio of schools was first off the tees with another three schools behind, followed by the individual qualifiers.
“That’s how we wanted to approach it. We can’t control what’s going on behind us in that second wave,” Keesee said of winning the group the Bulldogs were with. “Let’s be the best out of this three, then step back and see what comes rolling in.”
Wellington took the team win with a 295, one stroke ahead of Worthington Christian’s 296. Fairbanks finished third with a 335. With the team win, Wellington advanced to the state tournament to represent the central district, while Worthington Christian’s Jones is the individual qualifier from the district.