WHEELING - Coming into the OVAC Class 3A Golf Championship, Martins Ferry had been proclaimed the favorite.
However, when Purple Riders coach Joe Kosar and his talented squad arrived at Oglebay Park's Crispin Center on Thursday morning, they were greeted with something they'd not seen all season.
That being weather that was more like St. Andrew's and the British Open as chilly temperatures, swirling winds and steady drizzle moved into the Ohio Valley and held down scoring on the usually player-friendly par-71 layout.
Magnolia’s Tyler Myers watches a shot during Thursday’s 3A tournament at Oglebay.
Photo by Seth Staskey
''Weather can be the great equalizer,'' Kosar said. ''The conditions were horrible and I didn't see anyone give up. On a dry course, our team tends to play well.''
Not the weather, nor any of the other teams were going to stand in the way of the Purple Riders, who breezed to their second OVAC title in school history. Their last championship came in 1991 and Eric Coe, a member of that team, was on hand and congratulated each member of the Riders team after he received his championship plaque.
''I'm speechless,'' Kosar said. ''This couldn't happen to a greater bunch of kids. These kids play for the love of the game and because of their dedication is why we're in the position we're in right now.''
2011 OVAC 3A Golf Championship
(At Crispin Center, Par 71)
Martins Ferry, 318; Buckeye Trail, 333; Bridgeport, 357; Barnesville, 365; Magnolia, 373; Tyler Consolidated, 376; Fort Frye, 384; Monroe Central, 442; Bellaire (No Full Team)
Martins Ferry - Taylor Shane, 76; Andrew Chlon, 78; Chase Stuckey, 80; Doug Robey, 84; Kaitlyn Bliss, 84.
Buckeye Trail - Justin Wilson, 78; Jessi Roe, 80; Jed Burga, 85; Austin Warehime, 90.
Bridgeport - Jon Kreiter, 87; Zach Herink, 89; Ryan Kasper, 90; Austin Uhl, 91.
Barnesville - Chris Doty, 79; Nate Wehr, 87; J.C. Weiss, 91; Brian Clark, 108.
Magnolia - Tyler Myers, 81; Brantley Hissom, 96; Alex Pancake, 98; Brandon Fluharty, 98.
Tyler Consolidated - Dalton Wells, 80; Swayde Carpenter, 83; Dylan Tippins, 104; Blake Carpenter, 109.
Fort Frye - Shon Smith, 84; Brennan Schilling, 99; Kyle Schwendeman, 99; Devin Brooker, 102.
Monroe Central - Tanner Burkhart, 99; David Kahl, 100; Gage Ash, 113; Ethan Groves, 130.
Bellaire - Austin Cusick, 81.
As the scores were trickling into the clubhouse and being posted, Kosar had the nervous look, but his five players - Taylor Shane, Andrew Chlon, Chase Stuckey, Doug Robey and Kaitlyn Bliss - turned that into excitement. The Riders finished with a 318, which was 15 shots clear of runner-up Buckeye Trail.
''Everybody talks about this No. 1 and No. 2 stuff, but that's just where you play them,'' Kosar said. ''We really don't have a No. 1 or 2. I have to look at where the kids are because some of them are more comfortable. The numbering isn't what it's all cracked up to be or what everyone tries to make it.''
Bridgeport, which is still a relatively new program, finished third with 357.
The Riders placed three players on the all-tournament team and had the medalist and runnerup medalist.
''A big reason for our success has been how steady our No. 1, 2 and 3 guys have been,'' Kosar said. ''Four, 5 and 6 at anytime have stepped up and played an important part in the winning process.''
Junior Taylor Shane, who had a strong summer on the Top Flite Tour, recorded his first individual title in the conference when he overcame a rough stretch on the back nine to finish with a 5-over-par 76.
''This feels great,'' Shane said. ''I was trying to hold it together on the back. Finally, the weather got better toward the end (of the round). I was just trying to grind through it and keep plugging away.''
Shane, who started his round on the first hole, made the turn at 1-over and then proceeded to shoot his next four holes at 3-over, including a double on the Par-3, 13th.
''I was able to make some pars off some not-so-good shots,'' Shane said. ''I was able to get it back together and it paid off.''
Junior Andrew Chlon finished the round with a 78, but was tied with Buckeye Trail's Justin Wilson for runner-up medalist. The pair then went to the Par-5, eighth for a playoff hole.
''With the weather and the conditions the way they were, I am happy,'' Chlon said. ''After a rough second shot, Chlon hit a 4-iron within 5 feet and drained the putt for birdie and the runner-up finish.
''I was able to bounce back with a good shot and made the putt,'' Chlon said. ''The team played well. Something like this has been a long time coming. We needed something like this to gain some confidence.
''Winning this championship feels really good.''
Also earning a spot on the all-tournament team was the Riders' Chase Stuckey, who checked in with a round of 80, which was good enough for a three-way tie for fifth.
Doug Robey and Kaitlyn Bliss both finished with rounds of 84.
''Even though golf is an individual sport, this group is all 'we,' '' Kosar said. ''Yes, these kids want to score well and play well, but you never see that during the course of the match because they're all pulling for each other.''
The balance of the All-OVAC team includes: Barnesville's Chris Doty (79), Buckeye Trail's Jessi Roe (80) and Tyler Consolidated's Dalton Wells (80).