Clear Fork golfers win 4th title, eye OCC tourney

Clear Fork golfers win 4th title, eye OCC tourney


Clear Fork golfers win 4th title, eye OCC tourney


Clear Fork’s Luke Watson drives the ball on the second tee during Friday’s City Golf Tournament at Twin Lakes.

Clear Fork’s Luke Watson drives the ball on the second tee during Friday’s City Golf Tournament at Twin Lakes.

Clear Fork’s Dakotah McClain chips the ball on the first hole during the Friday’s City Golf Tournament at Twin Lakes.

Clear Fork’s Dakotah McClain chips the ball on the first hole during the Friday’s City Golf Tournament at Twin Lakes.

MANSFIELD — “Why not us?” is emblazoned across the front of their warmups. Clear Fork golfers adopted the motto last year but it has become even more of a rallying cry this season.

The Colts shot a school-record 298 to win Friday’s City Golf Tournament at Twin Lakes and will ride into the Sept. 24 Ohio Cardinal Conference Tournament at Mohican Hills riding the wave of four tournament titles this season.

Three-time defending OCC champ Lexington is unbeaten in league duals, which figure into crowning the No. 1 team, while Clear Fork and Wooster each have one loss — to Lex. The Generals host the Colts this coming week, with the winner giving itself the best shot to unseat the Minutemen in the final standings.

Luke Watson, Friday’s medalist with a one-under 70, had every reason to ask “Why not us?” after he led Clear Fork to its record-setting performance. Also breaking 80 for the Colts were fellow seniors Dakotah McClain (74) and Devon Shortridge (76) and sophomore Jared Lind (78).

The previous school record was a 304, shot last year in finishing second to Lex in this same tournament. The Minutemen weren’t in the field Friday because of other scheduling commitments.

“It was a pretty interesting round,” said Watson, who also took medalist honors on the same course at the Tyger Invitational. “The greens were really nice, but it was fast and hard, so I putted defensively. I lipped out about five or six putts or I could have had a really low score. I was definitely more consistent.”

Watson was referring to his up-and-down 71 at the Tyger Invite, where he had six birdies, six bogeys and six pars in leading to the Colts to the title. They’ve also won tournaments at Hillsdale and Galion, with Watson taking medalist honors at the latter.

“I’d like to think so,” said Clear Fork coach Jeff Gottfried when asked if the Colts could feed off their momentum in the OCC tournament, “but the course at Mohican Hills is totally different. It’s going to be longer and it’s not going to be as fast. What I like is our ability to adjust.”

The Colts have shown that ability not only course to course but hole to hole.

“If you hit a bad shot, you can’t let it get in your head. You’ve got to let it go,” McClain said. “I had a triple (bogey) on the second to last hole and came back with a par. I was putting for a birdie, but it lipped out.

“Our junior year, we were three years into it, but we were still in the immature stage. This year we’ve grown up more and we’re doing better. If we’re on our ‘A’ game we can definitely put pressure on (Lexington).”

Shortridge believes the OCC tournament is up for grabs and that the medalist race could be just as tight.

“There’s 20 kids who could shoot in the 70s,” he said.

Shortridge was one of eight to do it in Friday’s field. Ontario sophomore Marc Wilkins Jr., was medalist runner-up with 73 and the host Warriors also got solid rounds from sophomore Dom Castelvetere (77) and junior Austin McCray (79). Also breaking 80 was Madison’s Jacob Seamans (75), while Mansfield Christian’s Ryan Pfeiffer (80), Galion’s Jack McElligott (81) and Madison’s Kyle Matern (81) just missed.

“Sadly, yes,” said Wilkins when asked if this was his best round of the year. “I was four-over the last six holes or it could have been a 68 or 69.”

Wilkins was 10 when he began tagging along with his father, former major league pitcher Marc Wilkins Sr., to Westbrook Country Club.

“I didn’t think I was that interested in golf when I was playing baseball and football, but then golf kind of took over,” he said. “After I had two concussions playing football, I said that’s enough.”

Lind, known as “J-Rod” instead of Jared to his Clear Fork teammates, is another sophomore who had a big day, playing a surprising role in the Colts’ record score.

“It was the best round of my life,” Lind said. “Jake Houston (Ontario’s first-year head coach, former Lex star and assistant teaching pro at Westbrook) has been giving me lessons and this course plays into my game. It’s very dry and the ball runs. I hit my balls low, so I was able to run the ball up to the greens, and I putted good today.”

Shortridge said all of the hard work put in over the summer by Clear Fork’s seniors — including Jake Helinski, who shot 85 Friday — is paying huge dividends.

“We’d text each other all the time about getting out and playing,” Shortridge said. “All of us seniors, we probably played five or six days a week all summer and played the Junior PGA (circuit).”

It’s made their coach’s job easier.

“They’ve put a lot of time in; to be good at this game you have to,” Gottfried said. “When it’s spring and I’m out on the softball diamond (as Clear Fork’s varsity coach), they’re out on the golf course.

“Most kids struggle to not let one bad hole turn into three or four. If they get a double or triple (bogey), they say, hey, it’s over. I think their maturity has gotten them to the point where they can control that damage.”


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City Golf Tournament

•Site: Twin Lakes Golf Course

Team scores: Clear Fork 298, Ontario 317, Madison 327, Galion 345, Mansfield Senior 373, St. Peter’s 421

Medalist: Luke Watson, Clear Fork, 70

Clear Fork: Luke Watson 34-36-70, Dakotah McClain 36-38-74, Devon Shortridge 37-39-76, Jared Lind 38-40-78

Ontario: Marc Wilkins 34-39-73, Dom Castelvetere 37-40-77, Austin McCray 37-42-79, Adam Miller 42-46-88

Madison: Jacob Seamans 36-39-75, Kyle Matern 41-40-81, Jacob Nikolaus 44-40-84, Jacob Koehler 42-43-85

•Galion: Jack EcElligott 40-41-81, Mitch Dyer 40-46-86, Nick Kruger 46-43-89, Brevin Owens 46-43-89

•Mansfield Senior: Dylan Dudley 41-44-85, Zach Blank 41-45-86, Shandon Kiah 46-52-98, Joseph Gallaway 48-56-104

•St. Peter’s: Matt Kingseed 44-46-90, David Counts 53-47-100, Chris Dillon 51-55-106, Charles Thompson 59-66-125

•Mansfield Christian: Ryan Pfeiffer 37-43-80, Nate Roblin 47-52-99, Colton Gerber 53-50-103


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