Teammates, family and friends were huddled around Centerville senior golfer Marissa Wenzler as score after score was posted at the Division I state golf tournament Saturday at the Ohio State University Golf Club.
Wenzler’s second straight 1-under par 69 and two-day total of 2-under 138 on the Gray Course had already been written on the board with a red Sharpie, noting she had broken par. The only other red number was Friday’s 69 by Olentangy Berlin’s Leila Raines. Every other golfer who had a chance to tie our beat Wenzler’s total was on the board. When the marker walked over to Raines’ name he pulled out a black pen to write 72 and 141.
Wenzler and her slew of supporters knew what that meant: she was Centerville’s first girls state champion.
Her hands covered her face, her eyes watered and hug after hug came her way.
“The past two days I haven’t been able to be very emotional because I’ve tried to keep myself together,” she said, her eyes still wet. “So it’s just all coming out right now.”
Centerville placed third as a team with a score of 624 behind runner-up Olentangy Orange at 618 and champion New Albany, which shot a tournament record 592. Beavercreek junior Sarah O’Connor shot 82-83 165 to finish 29th.
“We thought we were a top two or three team and that Marissa was one of the best players, if not the best player,” Elks coach Michael Dalton said. “It kind of panned out that way.”
On the boys side, on the Scarlet Course, Vandalia Butler senior Austin Greaser finished third and earned first-team all-state with a two-day total of 150, one shot behind co-champions Jackson Chandler of Dublin Jerome and Max Moldovan of Green. Carroll senior Tyler Goecke placed seventh to earn second-team all-state with a two-day total of 9-over 153. Troy senior Holden Scribner shot 81-79 160 to finish tied for 14th.
Not long after Wenzler knew she was the winner she answered her phone. It was her brother Ryan Wenzler, a former golfer at Wright State who is playing on the Latin American pro tour, calling from Florida.
“I couldn’t even talk to him,” she said because of her emotions. “He’s my biggest role model. I know he’s going to be happy for me, and I’m really proud of everything he’s done. It’s awesome because I wouldn’t have been able to do this without him.”
Wenzler, who plans to sign in November to play at Kentucky, played in her fourth straight state tournament along with her team, which has now finished third, ninth, second and third. She placed fifth last year to earn first-team all-state when she shot 144. Her only thought this year was to win.
“I just feel like I’ve worked so hard for this,” Wenzler said. “This has been one of my biggest goals for the longest time. I’m really happy.”
Dalton said the texts and tweets were constant the past two days keeping people who couldn’t be at the course updated on Wenzler’s progress. She knew it was going on.
“They’re just so supportive,” Wenzler said of her teammates. “They’ve wanted me to do this — a lot of people have. It feels good to finally do it, and it’s just awesome to be around such close people. I have a great family and I have great friends, and I’m just really grateful.”
Greaser, who will sign next month with North Carolina, put himself in a hole with a 40 on the front nine Saturday. He came back with a 36 to finish one shot short.
“I didn’t have my stuff today, but I grinded it out, especially on the back nine,” Greaser said. “I did the best I could and really gave a run at it.”
Winds were high Saturday, pushing scores a little higher than what most of the golfers are used to.
“You really have to strike it well and really hit the shots almost perfect every time you swing the club or you may or may not end up in a bad spot,” he said. “It takes your 110 percent mental game all the time. Golf’s already tough and already requires a ton of mental strength. On a day like today it’s a grind from the first tee shot to the last putt.”
Goecke was 11th last year with identical scores of 77 and 76. He called those mediocre, but he was happier to shoot those numbers this year in the wind.
“I finished higher than last year which was my goal,” said Goecke, who will sign with Wright State next month. “The wind makes you focus a lot more — you have to. There were a couple shots I lost focus for a couple seconds and I found myself 20 yards off to the side.”