DEFIANCE — In tournament golf, the difference between advancing and staying home could be as slight as a single stroke.
That was the case for the Wayne Trace and St. John’s golf teams Thursday at the Division III sectional at the Auglaize Golf Course.
As the Raiders and Blue Jays were finishing their rounds, everyone knew that it would be close for the third and final qualifying spot for next week’s district tournament at Stone Ridge Country Club in Bowling Green.
And when the final score was posted for each team, the difference was a stroke as the Raiders finished with a 331 team score, while the Blue Jays were a shot back at 332.
While the battle for third was close, the battle for first place was a bit farther apart as Ottoville won the title, shooting a 313 team score, while Putnam County League rival Kalida was two shots back at 315.
Tee times for the district start at 9 a.m.
Despite the Blue Jays not advancing as a team, they had an individual advance in senior Nick Kayser. One other local individual advanced to the district tournament in Fort Jennings’ Kurt Warnecke.
The Raiders were led by Grady Gudakunst with a 77. Zack Mansfield finished the day with an 82, Brian Meyer shot an 85, while Derek Langmeyer and Corbin Linder both had an 87.
Kayser shot the low round of the day at Auglaize, firing a 71 to grab medalist honors.
“Nick played extremely well. He has played extremely well all season,” St. John’s coach John Klausing said. “I just stay out of his way and let him play golf. It’s good for the team and good for Nick.”
Backing up Kayser Thursday were seniors Cole Fischbach with an 85, Craig Klausing with an 86 and Sean Flanagan with a 90. Junior T.J. Hoersten finished with a 94.
“The team played well. We just came up a shot short,” Klausing added. “It was a real close battle. It was neat to see.”
The top of the standings were dominated by Putnam County rivals Ottoville and Kalida as the two storied programs are making a return trip to the district tournament. Just three days after the Wildcats defeated the Big Green to win the PCL tournament, the roles were reversed on Thursday.
The Big Green, who shot a 166 Tuesday at Auglaize in a quad match, shot a lot better Thursday to win the sectional crown.
“The kids really played super good today,” Ottoville coach Jim Brown said. “When it gets to the sectionals, it’s survive and move on. We really haven’t played our best golf since early in the season. We kind of struggled for a while and boy did we come out really play good golf from my 1 man to my 5 man. We have four seniors and for them to go out like this is great.”
Derek Schimmoeller and Wesley Markward paced the Big Green with 77s and Zach Weber was one shot back at 78. Craig Odenweller finished with an 81, while Logan Kortokrax had an 85.
“Logan Kortokrax shot an 85 today, I was really proud of him,” Brown said. “Craig Odenweller was below his average with an 81 and my top three guys were all in the 70s; I’d take this all the time. That probably hasn’t happened since early, early in our season. I’m happy; maybe we are starting to peak at the right time. I’m just really pleased; they have worked hard for this.”
Kalida’s top two golfers matched the Big Green’s low scores but their other two scores were one stroke higher, creating the difference between the two teams.
Cody Mathew and Zach Erhart paced the Wildcats with 77s, while Austin Horstman had a 79 and Neil Recker an 82. Brady Mathew finished with an 83.
“We played well and Ottoville played two strokes better,” Kalida coach Ken Schnipke said. “Give them all the credit in the world. We are happy to move on and see what we can do that next week. We took 11 strokes off our score from Monday. You just have to hand it to the kids for hanging in there and going out there and putting up some good scores.”
Warnecke paced the Musketeers’ effort Thursday with a 79 to earn a trip to districts as an individual.
“Kurt has earned it,” Jennings coach Todd Hoehn said. “He is the one who has played all summer and has made the trip up here to play on this course. His mind has been set on making districts after just missing it by a stroke last season.”
Nate German finished with a 99 for the Musketeers, while Lucas Luebrecht had a 101. Josh Wittler and Nick Von Sossan both had a 107.
Jefferson finished tied for sixth at the sectional as they shot a 353. The Wildcats were led by Nick Gallmeier with an 84, Tyler Wrasman had an 85, Carter Mox an 88 and Jacob Violet a 96. Tyler Rice finished with a 102.
Crestview finished 12th with a 410 as they were led by Jacob Mengerick and Conner Lautzenheiser, both at 96. Jon Germann finished with a 104, Ronnie Schumm had a 114 and Cyler Miller a 136.
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1. Ottoville 313; 2. Kalida 315; 3. Wayne Trace 331; 4. St. John’s 332; 5. Tinora 350; 6. Jefferson and Ayersville 353; 8. Leipsic 354; 9. Fairview 370; 10. Antwerp 378; 11. Fort Jennings 386; 12. Crestview 410; 13. Pettisville 415.