Local Sports

Friday, October 12, 2012

Division III state golf: Black Knights won't be intimidated
By JAMIE BAKER

Staff Writer

Van Buren's golf team should not be awed by the state tournament experience.

The Black Knights have been there.

They'll be looking for a breakout weekend today when they compete in the OHSAA Division III boys state golf championships at the NorthStar Golf Resort in Sunbury.

"We have five great kids and they've all played at the state tournament except one, Erik Glass, and he was the alternate," said Van Buren coach Eric Heitkamp.

"These guys know what it's all about. This is not about your ability to hit the ball. This is about your golf swing and putting the ball in the hole as quickly as you can regardless of the conditions or the competition.

"There are some really, really good golf teams down there and obviously we are one of the top 12 teams in the state and that's exciting."

Junior Sawyer Junge, who will be playing in his third state tournament, and seniors Brennon Swain, Tim Mutchler and Jason Sawyer, who will be playing at state for the second straight year, made up the backbone of the last two Van Buren teams that finished last at state in 2010 and 10th last year.

Glass, a senior, has patiently waited for his chance to play at state and that day has arrived. His play late in the season was a key to another successful season at Van Buren.

"We're not where we are right now without him," Heitkamp said. "He's been very, very solid for us in the second half of the year.

"He has played some really good golf down the stretch and he was especially good when our team needed him most."

Players like Glass, who bide their time and keep at improving their game, has kept Van Buren among the area's elite teams over the years.

"It's kids like Erik Glass that make a program successful. He understood the process, that it was going to be a lot of work and that there were going to be ups and downs but if he did what we asked him to do, he was going to get his opportunity to shine."

Glass and his teammates will be facing a challenging field on a challenging golf course.

Columbus Wellington School is back to defend its state title and 2011 state runner-up Lima Central Catholic is also one of the favorites.

Other teams include Ottawa Hills, Ashland Crestview, Columbus Academy, Columbus Tree of Life, Sugarcreek Garaway, Warren JFK, Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas, Cincinnati Seven Hills and Cincinnati Country Day.

"The way we are going to approach this is we aren't going to pick a number of where we would like to finish, rather we're going to pick a score we want to shoot and we'll see where that puts us," Heitkamp said.

"We talk about going down there and making a name for ourselves. We've done well in the district but now it's time to put our name on the map at state.

"To do that, we have to perform at the biggest tournament of the year."

Baker: 419-427-8409,

jamiebaker@thecourier.com


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