It has been a season of continued success for the Lake golf team.
For the third time in four years since Terry Tansel took over as head coach, the team qualified for the district tournament by finishing third at sectionals. Prior to Tansel’s first year, the golf team hadn’t made districts since 1986.
“We’re really headed in the right direction with the program in general,” Tansel said. “Our lowest score since I’ve been a coach was at the league meet two weeks ago where we shot a 325.”
It all starts with practice, and Tansel said the team tries to mix it up and keep things interesting each day.
“One day we’ll play nine holes, the next day we’ll go to the driving range, or we’ll work on chipping and putting,” he said.
It is during chipping and putting where Tansel said he mixes it up more.
“We’ll have them make 15 six-footers in a row, practice with just irons, or drop the ball at the 150 yard marker and play from there,” he said.
They also practice every Saturday.
It is that work and the time put in over the off-season that has helped a young team position itself for a chance to make it to state.
They did lose Matt Smith, the SLL’s reining player of the year, to graduation, so Tansel wasn’t sure what to expect this year.
“It’s been a team effort,” he said. “We knew we had to have it and over the season, we have become more competitive as a team.”
It was that total team effort that allowed the team to finish third at sectionals. All year, Casey Witt has been the team’s No. 1, according to Tansel. However, he didn’t have his best day at sectionals.
It was at that point when three of Witt’s teammates, Nate Yeager (83), Casey Conine (91), and Jake Materni (87), stepped up to help the team compete. Witt shot an 88.
The team didn’t play well in their first nine holes, the back nine, but came back strong on the front nine to cut 15 strokes off their game and beat Eastwood by two strokes. Genoa and Port Clinton finished ahead of Lake.
“We did a good job maintaining focus throughout the round,” Tansel said.
Witt and Yeager are both averaging about 40, 41 per nine holes, according to Tansel. Witt made 1st Team All-SLL, and Yeager made 2nd team.
“Conine has really stepped up, as well,” Tansel said. “He played JV last year and is probably our most improved player as he stepped up to the role of the four man.”
Having the younger players step up and perform after losing Smith is what Tansel said he remembers most about this season thus far. Despite that success so far, Tansel said his team is hungry for more and playing their best golf of the year after finishing fourth in the SLL.
Leading up to the district tournament on Thursday, Tansel said his team’s focus was on preparing for the “hard, fast” greens that are featured at the district course.
“It’s what makes the course a district course,” he said.
The team to beat is Bryan, but everything is up in the air after that according to Tansel.
“It’s not always the best team that wins, it’s the best team that day,” he said.
The team’s performance at district is all part of the program’s resurgence. Witt, Yeager, Materni, Conine, and Cole Brossia are all underclassmen. Nate Lowe is the only senior. Brossia and Lowe are currently competing for the 5th spot at districts.
“I’m pleased with the way our kids have worked,” Tansel said. “We as a program are not satisfied. The work that the kids put in during the off-season has really shown this year.”