By Chris Chaney
The more things change, the more they stay the same on the Southern Buckeye Conference links. Following a season in 2012 that saw the New Richmond Lions’ golf team dominate the league competition, coach Phil Heflin’s squad finds themselves back ahead of their conference rivals through two rounds of the year-long SBC Tournament.
The SBC American squads kicked off their 54-hole tournament on Wednesday, Sept. 4 with nine holes on the back nine at Deer Track and then backed that up with nine more on Thursday, Sept. 5 on the front nine at Stillmeadow Country Club.
New Richmond holds an 18-stroke lead over second place Amelia following opening rounds of 157 and 167. Amelia is in second with a combined score of 342, followed by Bethel-Tate’s 382, Western Brown’s 390, Goshen’s 397 and Norwood’s 440.
Individually, the year-long tournament acts as the barometer for All-Star consideration with the medalist for the tournament receiving the Player of the Year award. So far, the Lions are holding down much of the individual honors as well.
“Chris Mazzaro is leading the tournament,” Heflin said of his No. 1 player. “He’s up by 10 shots after two rounds. Then, in third and fourth are New Richmond boys as well. No. 3 is Kyle Heidlage, and No. 4 is Bryce Kroeger and they’re both playing pretty solid right now.”
In second place is Amelia’s Trent Edwards.
Only one-third of the way through the tournament, Helfin and his guys know that they have to keep their foot on the pedal. After all, the second-place Barons are one of the few teams that have handed the Lions a loss this year.
“It’s a long way from being over,” Heflin said. “We still have 36 holes to play and right now up 16 strokes, anything can happen. Plus, we still have to play at Amelia’s home course on Wednesday and they’re our closest competitor right now.”
Barons head coach Creed Cornett is happy to see his team competing again this year after coming into the season with some doubts after losing their state qualifier Jake Brinker to graduation.
“We lost our No. 1 and I thought we were going to have a rebuilding season, but the kids came out strong and have been doing really well,” he said. “We’ve managed to be really competitive. Right now, we’re 15-8 and have beaten New Richmond, which is very good for us.”
The Barons have a solid one-two punch in Edwards and Evan Daniel. Daniel has really impressed Cornett, saying, “this kid is really going to be someone to watch by his senior year.”
As for shortening the gap between New Richmond and themselves, Cornett thinks a big move could have been made by his team at the Sept. 11 third round at the Barons’ home course of Friendly Meadows.
(The results of that round were not available at press time.)
“We have the home field advantage, so hopefully that will help us to close the gap,” Cornett said. “Our goal is to use the home field advantage to close the gap and be more consistent in our shots.”
And while Bethel-Tate and Goshen may be a little too far back after two rounds, the talent pool at both schools have impressed by Heflin and Cornett. The coaches at the top two schools mentioned the good work being done and the up-and-coming talent that could contend in the years to come.
Following Wednesday, Sept. 11’s third round at Friendly Meadows, the SBC teams will compete on a nine-hole track for the last time at White Oak on Sept. 19 with the 18-hole finale taking place at Cedar Trace on Saturday, Sept. 21.