SOLON – Not even a wind advisory stopped the Solon boys’ golf team.
Playing on its home course, the Spartans won the eight-team Solon Invitational on Friday at Lake MacBride Golf Course in Solon. A local wind advisory was in effect most of the day Friday with gusts as high as 35 miles per hour.
Solon captured the tournament, shooting a low score of 339. West Branch was runner-up with a 345. West Liberty finished sixth and Regina was seventh.
Solon’s Noah Erickson was meet medalist as the sophomore fired an 81 over 18 holes.
“The wind was pretty bad starting out,” Erickson said. “The back nine was a little bit better, but the front nine you had to take it into account. It was definitely challenging on longer shots.
“You just try to make the best of it. It doesn’t help if you get mad about it, so you have to move forward with a positive attitude.”
Following an underwhelming outing Thursday – albeit in rainy conditions – in a nine-hole loss to West Delaware, the Spartans didn’t have much time to recoup, but still held a so-called home-field advantage.
Did Solon coach Adam Stahle expect to win Friday’s tournament?
There was a long pause.
“No, I did not,” Stahle said. “(Thursday) night we shot a 173 in some rain and wind, and I wasn’t sure how we’d respond after getting kicked in the face a little bit. Then you come out and the wind is blowing 25-30 miles per hour. Kids are hitting shots that are actually good shots, but they turn out bad. Confidence can get turned down.
“We kept telling them that everyone is going through the same thing. It’s going to die down. It’s going to turn around. Our back side shows that. We shot a 163. In those conditions, that’s phenomenal.”
Behind Erickson, Solon boasted vigor with two other top scorers.
Senior Jake Singkofer shot an 83, while sophomore Sterling McIlravy fired an 84. McIlravy played with the first group out of the clubhouse.
“Tried keeping it low, which I don’t do very well, but I just clubbed up and swung easy,” McIlravy said. “Where I normally hit an eight (iron), I hit a six and just swung easy and kept the spin down. Played safer.
“(Stahle) pretty much just said, ‘Have fun, play safe, and you know the course better than they do.’ I think we did that today.”
For West Branch, Matt McIlrath and Austin Perks both recorded an 85. Kohlton Kober was West Liberty’s leader with a 99. Noah Felderman had the top card for Regina with a 101.
In his eighth year at the helm of the Spartans, Stahle may have his most inexperienced team of his tenure. Solon lost 10 seniors from 2014 to this spring.
However, there is still some depth up and down the score sheet. The season outlook is likely bright, and that started Friday with a tournament victory.
“Some of these guys didn’t play a lot last year, but most of them played all summer long,” Stahle said. “That’s when you get better at golf is in the summer. They did that. They took it to heart. We’re young, but I’m very excited to see what the future holds for this group.”
Team rankings — 1. Solon 339, 2. West Branch 345, 3. Tipton 353, 4. Wilton 377, 5. Durant 378, 6. West Liberty 416, 7. Regina 426, 8. Louisa-Muscatine 443.
Solon (339) — Noah Erickson 81. Jake Singkofer 83, Sterling McIlravy 84, Marcus Martin 93, Jackson Rushek 95, Blake Newell 103.
West Branch (345) — Matt McIlrath 85, Austin Perks 85, Sam McCrory 88, Adam Kirkey 89, Cade Aspelmeier 100.
West Liberty (416) — Kohlton Kober 99, Ryan Alpen 102, Austin Newton 108, Brice Page 111, Sean Salemink 120, Jacob Dickey 121.
Regina (426) — Noah Felderman 101, Joseph Hein 104, Trae Rogers 108, Brady Wallace 113, Will Comer 121, Daniel Sullivan 121.