BETHEL – As Bethel-Tate High School senior Mitchell McElfresh hangs his golfing bucket hat up, he leaves as one of the more decorated Tigers ever to tee it up.
After making Southern Buckeye Conference second team as a freshman, McElfresh was first team the last three seasons and SBAAC-National Player of the Year the last two years. His coach, Brett Harris, has been Coach of the Year two years running with Bethel-Tate taking back-to-back championships.
McElfresh went out in style at the league tournament with an eye-opening score at Deer Track.
“He played a really good round the last day shooting 73,” Harris said. “He was two over and didn’t hit driver the entire round. He kept the ball in play. It was a really smart round by him.”
When most prep players want to hammer the heavy hardware out of the tee box, McElfresh’s conservative play led to his lower score.
“He hits his 18 degree hybrid far enough where he really didn’t need driver,” Harris said. “He just knew on that day we didn’t need anything crazy from him, just a really solid round.”
Next up for McElfresh was the sectionals at Sharon Woods, followed by the district tournament at Weatherwax. His 79 in the sectional qualified him for the districts for a third straight year at the soon-to-be-closed course in Middletown.
On Oct. 8, McElfresh opened with a 38 on his first nine and finished with an 80 to narrowly miss qualifying for the state tournament.
Joining McElfresh on the SBAAC-National first team for Bethel-Tate were teammates Jacob Dahlheimer and Blake Combs. The key this year for McElfresh was keeping the ball in the fairway and staying clear between the ears.
“Mentally he played a lot better,” Harris said. “He averaged 37-38 for the most part. He had a couple low rounds of 34.”
Also making a sectional appearance for Bethel-Tate was their lone female, Gracyn McQueary. The sole swimmer for Bethel-Tate is used to flying solo in her scarlet and gray and nearly advanced to the district tourney.
“She shot a 102 and missed out by six strokes at sectionals,” Harris said. “If you look at the calendar, she’s only been playing competitive golf for one calendar year. This has been pretty impressive for her to be that close considering golf’s her secondary sport.”
McQueary’s forte is the breaststroke in the pool, but her golf stroke is improving. At the same league match where her boyfriend McElfresh shot 73, she added a respectable 97.
“Especially being from the men’s tees, that’s really good,” Harris said. “There’s a lot of water you have to carry there and she played probably one of her best ball-striking rounds of her career. Mentally and physically, it was a great round.”
McQueary will return, but the dilemma for Harris is where to find a few teammates for her next fall at their home course of Friendly Meadows.
“We’ll try to see if we can find somebody to reload,” Harris said. “I’m losing four of my five golfers. The only person coming back is Gracyn. We either have to find three other guys or three other girls. We’re going to see what we can do.”