LANCASTER – This was the year everyone associated with Fisher Catholic golf pointed to.
With a bevy of talent returning, including seniors Aaron Wood, Blake Saffell and Brady Taulbee and Tom Sylvester, the Irish are looking to make a return trip to the state tournament. They qualified in 2013 and finished sixth in the state, but just missed qualifying in 2014 by two strokes.
“This is the year everyone has been waiting for,” coach Travis Saffell said. “With four seniors that have a ton of experience and some young talent, we feel like we can make a run at a state title.”
However, reaching that feat just got a little harder because the Ohio High School Athletic Association changed the format, as far as how many teams get out of the district. In the past, three teams and three individuals made out of the Central District. This year, only one team and one individual will qualify for the state tournament.
“That really raises the bar and we are going to have to be on our game. There are some quality teams in the Central District, and to be honest, it is kind of disheartening,” coach Saffel said. “It was hard enough to make it in the top three and make it out, and now only one is making it out. That is a little aggravating, especially when there is so much talent.
“There are going to be some really good teams and good players not make it to the state tournament, and that’s a shame.”
Wood made it as an individual in 2014 after shooting 74. Blake Saffell, who shot 76 in the district to just miss going, won sectional medalist honors in 2014 with a 74.
“Aaron and Blake are two completely different type of players,” Travis Saffell said. “Aaron is just so steady and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He just does everything right. He shot a 72 in an earlier tournament and had 18 pars. He is so consistent, and he is a great leader. His work ethic is amazing and he is just a coaches dream.
“Blake has a different dynamic. He also has great work ethic and puts a lot of time in. He hits the ball a long way and makes birdies, but he is not as consistent as Aaron. Both of those guys are going to be fun to watch this year.”
Rounding out the Irish lineup will be a pair of talented sophomores in Zach Saffell and Shane Funk.
“Both of those guys are going to play a role. We didn’t really count on them that much last year, but they both have stepped up and have been consistent. We really look forward to them being a big part of our success.”
Fisher Catholic, which won the Mid-State League-Cardinal Division championship in 2014, is off to a nice start. The Irish won the MSL Preseason title with a blistering 311 at Pine Hill Golf Course. Wood shot 72, followed by Blake Saffell (76), Taulbee (80) and Funk (83).
Fairfield Union lost All-Ohioian Caleb Herd, but the Falcons return several key and experienced players in Devin Munyan, Thomas Green, Drew Mahler, Brent Gulling and Cole Cisco.