Alter’s girls golf team: Fiona Hoskins (left), Gabbie Houpt, Natalie Bierlein, coach Scott Effinger, Peyton Kuntz, Alex Volk and Maggie Pascual qualified for the Division II state tournament. GREG BILLING PHOTO

Alter sending both girls and boys teams to state golf

“The way we connect with each other. How we’re all really good friends,” Pascual said. “I can always count on them. When I see them at school I know I can go up to them, give them a hug and a say hi.”

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There were plenty of hugs and high-fives on Thursday. With classmates lining the hallways, both the boys and girls golf teams paraded by during the school’s traditional send off to the state tournament.

“We support each other and it’ll be exciting to do the walk to state through the school with them,” junior co-captain Gabbie Houpt said earlier in the week. “It’s really exciting. You can feel the love and support from everyone standing and cheering you through the hallways. It’s a good feeling.”

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As is qualifying for state. Alter’s girls came two strokes away from advancing to Columbus at last year’s Division II district tournament. This season they grabbed the second and final qualifying spot at district by three strokes. This is the Knights’ eighth trip to state since 2008. They last qualified in 2017.

“As soon as I got off the 18th hole it was very nerve wracking,” junior Peyton Kuntz said of competing at the district tournament. “You weren’t sure how the other teammates were doing. Last year was so hard on us. I think my initial feeling was just being worried because if we didn’t make it, it would be so disappointing.”

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Alter’s boys, meanwhile, qualified for the third straight season and 23rd overall. The Knights team coached by Alex Schuster includes seniors A.J. Pothast, Jack Norman and Jack Holtgreive, junior John Lunne and sophomore Tommy Grawe.

“We really worked hard this year. I think it really helped considering we wanted it that badly and we were so close last year,” said sophomore Fiona Hoskins. “We kind of had a chip on our shoulders wanting to make it.

“We all really believe in each other and count on each other. That’s ultimately what got us to state. It was like a little journey.”

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Pascual, Houpt and Kuntz competed on the 2017 team that finished 11th overall. This year they are joined by Hoskins and freshman Alex Volk.

“Our goal was not to get to state. Our goal was to win state,” first-year coach Scott Effinger said of the pre-season objectives. “I think if they play to their potential I believe we have a chance to win state this year.”

“He’s done a lot for us,” said sophomore Natalie Bierlein, who makes the trip as the Knights’ alternate player. “I think he really changed us around. He took us from a team expecting to have it handed to us to a team that has to work for it. I think that’s what really changed it all. If you see the scores from last year compared to this year you can see how hard we’ve worked and the determination.”

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Alter’s girls play Ohio State University’s Gray Course on Friday and Saturday. The Alter boys play the NorthStar Golf Club in Sunbury on Friday and Saturday.

“I’m really excited to experience it with my teammates. (Maggie and Gabby) said the experience was amazing,” said Volk. “I think we made it through this year because we were so determined as a group. We needed to keep our confidence up that we were going to make state and we did. … We all grew close as a group and playing golf with each other has been so much fun.”

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Oakwood’s boys team of seniors R.C. Cosler and Rylan Quigley, juniors Tom McCarthy and Dan Flannery and sophomore R.J. Plunkett qualified in D-II. The Lumberjacks have qualified for state 11 straight seasons and 35 years overall.

Botkins, Fort Loramie and Minster qualified in the D-III boys tournament. St. Henry’s girls and National Trail senior Makenna Jones advanced in D-II girls.

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