By VINCE PELUSO
Another year, another sectional championship for the Riverside boys golf team.
Steve Siko’s Beavers won the Division I sectional title at Quail Hallow as all five Riverside boys cracked 80, totaling an impressive 300.
“It was awesome to shoot our number, probably the lowest round I’ve ever coached,” Siko said. “And to do that on a big stage is great. We set little goals all year like go undefeated in the PAC, win the PAC tournament, win sectionals. Now the next goal is to make it to Columbus.”
To this point, Riverside has accomplished all its goals.
On Monday it was a total team effort led by Brian Irish, who shot a 71.
He was followed by Eric Jeddy’s 75, Matt Thomas (76), Jake Poyar (78) and Nick Thomas (79). The top four scores count towards a team’s overall score.
“(Irish) played really awesome,” Siko said. “He hit 14 out of 18 greens. He totally bounced back from the PAC tournament where he didn’t play too well. Everybody just looked really focused this morning and throughout the day. It was a great team effort.
“They all really played one shot at a time, all five of them. They never got ahead of themselves and plugged along.”
Riverside now looks forward to next Wednesday’s district tournament at Pine Hills.
The Beavers have the experience of playing Pine Hills last year, something Siko said they’ll use to their advantage.
“Well, we have the experience to look back on from last year and it played really difficult, the temperatures were in the 40s and the greens were super fast and firm,” he said. “It’s supposed be a little nicer next week. We were a little overmatched, hopefully we can compete. There are a lot of good schools there but we should be able to complete to get there.”
For Siko, the strength of this year’s team is its ability for any of his five players to go low.
“I think one through five all five have a chance individually (to make it to state) if we don’t make it as a team,” he said. “They’re all capable of shooting a low round and getting out. Hopefully, we’ll make it out as a team, but it would be terrific to make it as an individual.”
Also at Quail Hallow on Monday, Lakeside’s Anthony DeGeorge qualified for the district tournament as an individual. DeGeorge shot a 78, which was second among individual qualifiers.
Other area teams that competed on Monday but didn’t qualify were Geneva, which shot a 342 led by Ryan Nappi’s 81, Lakeside with a 347 and Madison (396) led by Spencer Patterson’s 82.
Division I girls
For the first time in her high school career, Geneva junior Danielle Nicholson will head to The Legends in Massillon to compete in the Division I district tournament without her teammates.
Nicholson took home medalist honors with a 78, but the Eagles failed to qualify after shooting a 360, which was tied for fourth place (the top four teams advance) with Howland. However it wasn’t enough to qualify as they lost the tiebreaker.
“We heard from another coach that Howland’s girl had shot a 96 and she needed a 95, but then she came in with a 95,” Nicholson said. “It’s really disappointing. I’m very disappointed that I can’t practice with the team this week.”
Despite her disappointment, Nicholson still has a chance to win her second Division I state championship.
Although she took home medalist honors, she knows she has plenty to improve on.
“No, I’m not very pleased with how I played, I didn’t putt very well,” she said.
Nicholson started the round at Tamer Win on the back nine, eagling the 10th hole. But, she followed that with a triple bogey on 11.
Overall, Nicholson said she felt her putting failed her.
“I did not putt well the entire round, I had four three-putts and my lag putting really let me down,” she admitted.
Although it’ll be a new experience playing without her teammates, not much will change from a preparation standpoint for the 2011 state champion.
“It’ll be business as usual,” she said. “I need to make up for some mistakes and take revenge on the course next week. I shot 75 the last two years there so hopefully I’ll shoot a good score.”
Driving the ball will be important for Nicholson to punch her third-straight ticket to Columbus next week.
“You have to drive the ball well on that course,” she said. “You have to keep the ball below the hole because the greens roll faster than Tamer did today, so it’s very critical to keep the ball below the hole, I didn’t do that today.”
Nicholson took home medalist honors after winning a playoff hole after tying Jacinta Pikunas of Boardman.
It was an odd scenario as neither player was interested in playing the extra hole and Pikunas didn’t even have her clubs.
“It was really odd because they keep four individuals and four teams, but we tied for first, so it didn’t matter,” Nicholson said. “She didn’t even have her clubs, but they said you’re going to have to play a playoff hole. I said I honestly didn’t care, I’ll take first or second. Then her coach said she should play.
“She borrowed clubs and took a ball from me. She took a double and I took bogey.”
Lakeside was the only other area team in competition at Tamer Win, as the Dragons took home 10th place after a 427.