Genoa's boys’ golf team couldn't take anything for granted when it took the
course at Green Hills in Clyde on Sept. 22.
Coach Tom Pickerel's Comets were shooting for their third straight SLL title, but Woodmore, in particular, stood in their way. The SLL combines regular-season results as well as the tournament score to decide its champion.
"We have these shootouts going into the big tournament that goes for points, and Woodmore was winning," Pickerel said. "They were beating us and Eastwood. We were two points behind Woodmore and we had to win the tournament to at least tie them, depending on where they finished. They finished fourth and had kind of a bad day that day."
Genoa shot a 316 team score at the SLL tournament, five strokes better than runner-up Eastwood, to claim its 13th league title in Pickerel's 35 years as the Comets' coach.
Genoa was led by SLL Co-Players of the Year Nolan Eli and Kyle Simmons, both seniors, who shot a 1-over-par 72 and 74, respectively.
"Eli and Simmons both really like playing Green Hills," Pickerel said. "It's a quality golf course to begin with and it rewards shot-making. They are both good shot-makers. They get excited to go over there and play. They are our two leaders. They've carried us all year."
Eli's 72, which earned him tournament medalist honors, was his season best for 18 holes. Eli is a four-year letterman.
"The strength of his game this year is he's learned to manage his game really well," Pickerel said. "Sometimes when you play certain holes you don't have to play driver and I think he's learned where to position his shots a little better. He's good at all facets of the game. He drives the ball pretty well for somebody his age and his short game is pretty good."
Simmons, who also is a four-year letterman, took second at the SLL tournament. Pickerel described Simmons as a golf junkie.
"I was trying to make a point with my younger kids the other day, and I turned to Kyle and said, 'This summer, how many days went by when you didn't play or practice?' and he said 'none. I played or practiced every day.' He's like a gym rat in golf. He's a student of the game.
"His mom was telling me the other day that when he was younger they tried to get him involved in other sports, but golf was his game. His older brother, Joel, played for me and played on one of our state tournament teams about 17 years ago. His brother's taken an interest in Kyle from real early on, showing him the tricks of the trade so to speak. Kyle manages his emotions real well. He doesn't let a bad shot get him down."
Genoa seniors Dustin TenEyck and Jake Winters both shot 85 at the SLL tournament.
"They've been very consistent for us," Pickerel said. "Their score is usually around 84 or 86 or 87. You can count on them; they were going to be there. Recently, both of them are starting to play better than that and our scores as a team are starting to come down a little bit."
Genoa has had success throughout the season. The Comets shot 333 to capture the 23-team Edison Invitational earlier this week at Sawmill Creek in Huron. Simmons shot an 8-over 79 to lead the way.
The Comets won the 12-team Classic by the Bay on Sept. 19 at Maumee Bay, shooting 323 as a team. They also played at the Lost Creek Invitational in Lima and finished second out of 17 teams on Aug. 29 behind a 4-over 75 by Eli.
"We took second to Bryan, which played well at the state tournament last year," Pickerel said. "They only beat us by four strokes that day. They're probably the top Division II team in Northwest Ohio. That was a very good finish for us."
Last Saturday, at Chippewa Golf Course, the Comets placed fourth at the Genoa Invitational with a season-best 308 score. Sophomore Andrew Goeckerman paced Genoa with a 1-under 70, tying the school record set by Curt Vogelpohl in 1997.
"He was just really on," Pickerel said. "He was hitting everything solid and making a lot of putts. That score was 13 strokes better than his career best going into that event."
The Comets' postseason began Thursday in the Division II sectional at Heatherdowns Country Club. The Comets advanced to the district tournament last year after placing third at sectionals.
"Our sectional this year is very competitive," Pickerel said. "It's one of the strongest we've had in a while. Port Clinton is very good, Eastwood will be there and Clyde won the SBC tournament and they'll be at our sectional along with Lake. It's one of those things where if somebody gets hot on that one day, you never know."