Patriots punch ticket to state showcase


HOWARD – Sophomore Jack O’Donnell shot a 1-under 71 to lead the Olentangy Liberty boys golf team into the state tournament.

The Patriots shot a 303 as a team — behind only Dublin Jerome’s 300 — in the district final Tuesday afternoon at Apple Valley.

“I just played solid golf,” O’Donnell said. “I made a lot of puts to shoot 71. It feels great. It’s the district and there’s a lot of good teams here. I feel like we’re one of the best teams in Ohio and we’ve shown that this season.”

“Everything was set up for us and we just had to come out here and perform,” Liberty coach Ryan Snivley said. “To be honest, the last couple of weeks we were starting to get a little vulnerable. We were having some humble pie the last couple of weeks, so this is nice to perform the way we should.”

Grant Smeltzer shot a 74, Hunter Corbin a 77, Ben Armbruster an 81 and Andrew Blosser an 85 to round out the Patriots’ cumulative scorecard.

“(Smeltzer) was solid,” Snivley said. “I know he’s not happy because he had a little bit of bad luck coming down the stretch. Jack O’Donnell shot 71. He was (around) even par the whole round and birdied 16 and might have had a birdie on 17 or 18. He led us. Hunter was plus-2 for a good amount of the day and had a couple of bogey’s at the end.”

Other area team representatives were Olentangy Orange (310) and Olentangy Berlin (317).

Berlin coach Andrew Fraley said his team was disappointed with its round overall.

He commended senior Laila Raines for her decision to play in the boys tournament. Raines shot an 84.

“She took me on the ride of a lifetime,” Fraley said. “To put herself out there and go out in a male sport – to put herself out there – I’ll never forget it and I’ll always have a special place in my heart for her. I know she ended up disappointed with her scoring, but she has nothing to hang her head about.”

Bryce Reed (75), Brady Casto (77), Ethan Hegg (83) and Tanner Shimp (83) also played for the Bears, who reached the district tournament for the first time in the school’s two-year history.

“We came into the year with high aspirations,” Fraley said. “We were disappointed with the round. If you ask them individually – candidly – they would tell you that they left some shots out there. But they have nothing to be disappointed about. We have great kids and I’m super-proud of them. My heart hurts for them because I wanted it so bad for them.”

Corbin Bentley and Nathan Brown each shot 74s to lead the Pioneers. Jonathan Green finished with an 80 and Mitch Perdue an 82 to round out Orange’s scoring.

Luke Gazarek (78) and Brady Gazarek (84) of Delaware Hayes and Tyler Phillips (76) and Bennett Zeitner (80) of Olentangy represented the area as individuals.

“I feel bad for Luke. He was playing a great round and was even with five holes to go and put two in (the water) with two holes to go,” Hayes coach Andy Graham said. “I talked to other people (coming in) and I could have told you that we would have had two make it just because of their work ethic. They put in the hours and deserve to be where they are today.”

Westerville Central’s Josh Qian, Pickerington North’s Carson Bellish and Gahanna Lincoln’s Mitchell Soma each shot a 70 to force a playoff for the two individual qualifier spots. Bellish advanced after the first playoff hole and Qian advanced in the second hole.

The state tournament is Oct. 18 and 19 at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course.

Olentangy Liberty’s Grant Smeltzer putts on the 18th green during the Division I district tournament Tuesday afternoon at Apple Valley. Liberty’s Grant Smeltzer putts on the 18th green during the Division I district tournament Tuesday afternoon at Apple Valley. Michael Rich | Gazette

By Michael Rich

For the Gazette

Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at [email protected].

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