State Golf: After three straight top-3 finishes, Alter boys eye championship

After third-place finishes in 2017 and 2018 and a runner-up finish last year, Alter's boys golf team is hoping this is their year at the Division II state golf tournament Friday and Saturday in Columbus. CONTRIBUTED

The Alter boys golf team played in the Division II state golf tournament the past three years, finishing third twice, then second last year. The Knights want 2020 to be their year.

Alter is chasing Columbus Academy, winners of three straight championships. Columbus Academy is still the team to beat, coming off another Central District championship in which its top four players scored in the 70s for a 305 total.

Alter coach Alex Schuster says his team can challenge the champions over 36 holes this Friday and Saturday at the Ohio State Scarlet Course.

“I really think this is the strongest group we’ve had,” said Schuster, who is in his sixth season.

The Knights might have had only two players in the 70s at their district tournament, but four of them were in the 70s at sectionals for a team score of 301. All five have all taken turns being the team’s low man this season.

“That’s a real defining piece for us as a team is that you know any one of these guys can step up and come through for the team on any given day,” Schuster said.

At the sectional and district tournaments it was freshman medalist Davis Gochenouer. He shot 72 at sectionals and 71 at districts where he won a five-hole playoff against Oakwood senior Tom McCarthy.

“That definitely showed me he has the moxie to come out and compete in the big tournaments,” Schuster said of Gochenouer.

The other Alter newcomer is junior Brody Simms, who played football the past two seasons. He shot 77 at sectionals and 76 at districts. The Alter veterans are junior Tommy Grawe and seniors Colin Scheimann and John Lunne.

“What impresses me about this group is they’re not intimidated by the game,” Schuster said. “They look at a shot and they think they’re going to knock it close. They see a putt and they think they’re going to make it.”

Coach Jen Lohmeyer’s Oakwood team is making its 12th straight appearance. The Lumberjacks were district runners-up to Alter by three strokes.

The Division II tournament is played at OSU every other year, so Lohmeyer has a notebook and even more mental notes that she is prepping her team with.

“We always make out a plan as far as how we’re going to play the course, and they know they have to stick to the plan,” she said.

McCarthy is the lone Lumberjack who has played competitively on the difficult Scarlet Course. As a sophomore he shot 87 and 91 as the team’s No. 4 man.

“He learned first-hand how difficult the course is,” said Lohmeyer, who will also bring seniors Dan Flannery and Jonah Cunningham, junior RJ Plunkett and freshman Wright Chen. “He’s been able to help the other guys by just talking about the course and what to expect.”

Another local player who knows what to expect is Greeneview senior Mason Witt. He is the defending individual champion. He won at NorthStar Golf Club in Sunbury last year. He has played Scarlet twice in junior tournaments.

“It’s much tougher than NorthStar in my opinion just because there are about 400 bunkers out there,” he said. “It’s more of a course where I feel like it will bring the better players to the top.”

In 92 years of state golf tournaments, 19 players have won two titles and two have won three times.

“I really want to be able to get that feeling again,” said Witt, who was runner-up as a freshman and failed to qualify as a sophomore.

Girls: Alter will be playing in the Division II tournament on the OSU Gray Course for the second straight year and third time in four years. The Knights won the district title last week and tied for fourth at state last year.

Returning for Alter from last year’s state team are Gabbie Houpt, Alex Volk, Fiona Hoskins and Peyton Kuntz.

Legacy Christian senior Liz Miller shot an 83 at the district tournament to qualify for her first state tournament. St. Henry senior Ellie Naumann qualified with a 76 and will play in her fourth state tournament. She finished ninth last year.

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