WHEELING - The man at the top changed, but everything else stayed the same for Wheeling Park on Wednesday, as the Patriots claimed their fifth consecutive OVAC golf championship at Oglebay's Robert Trent Jones Course, the last two in Class 5A.
Sophomore Cole Hand, Park's No. 2 player -and likely a No. 1 at any other school - was buoyed by an eagle on hole 5 and was the only player in the nine-team field to break par as he shot a 69 and led the Patriots to a 302, edging second-place University (314) by 12 strokes.
Rounding out the field was third-place Parkersburg South (330), Morgantown (339), Brooke (345), Cambridge (363), Indian Creek (420), and John Marshall (489).
PHOTO BY JIM ELLIOTT
Wheeling Park’s Cole Hand watches his shot fly during the OVAC Class 5A Golf Championships on Thursday at Oglebay’s Robert Trent Jones Course.
Hand's day ended a two-year medalist run for teammate Thadd Obecny II, who shot 72 and made the all-tournament team along with University's Trent McPhearson (73) and Eric Wirth (74), Hand, and Parkersburg South's Alex Schreckengost (76).
For Hand, who came in under-par on the Jones Course for the first time in his prep career, it was a good day for the short game.
On No. 5, a 511-yard Par 5, Hand's drive wasn't as far right as he normally hits it, but he drilled a 3-wood to within 30 yards, just in front of the bunker.
From there, ''I chipped it and ran up there and watched it just trickle in right in front of the cup, so that was pretty sweet,'' Hand said.
He had birdie putts set up inside of 10 feet on holes 12-14, but ''I made one of them - wish I could get the other two back,'' he said.
He gave a pair back on 16 and 18, the product of pressure he put on himself after last year's OVAC tourney, when he had a one-stroke lead on Obecny on 17 and coughed it up with a double bogey.
''Cole got a little bit of revenge,'' Wheeling Park coach Don Headley said. ''Cole brought the ship home right side up, and we're in good shape.''
Hand's drive was left on both holes, something he says always happen when the nerves hit, but had a big enough lead to absorb a pair of bogeys this time.
''Having Thadd on my team, it's always a competition,'' Hand said. ''Even if we're playing two teams we might beat by 50, it's always a competition because I always just want to beat him. Even if we're coming out here playing nine holes, I always try real hard because I always want to beat him. And it doesn't happen very often. (Wednesday's round) feels good.
''I think we make each other better players. There's not a whole lot of players around here who can challenge him. Kicking him in the butt every once in a while helps him out.''
Rounding out Wheeling Park's scorers were Dylan Wojcik's 83 and Hunter Bryan's 78.
''Our freshmen really played well,'' Headley said.
Brooke, which finished fourth, was led by Logan Lojszyk's 77. Cambridge's top score came from Trevor Wilkinson (81). Indian Creek's best score was Ian McIntosh's 99, and John Marshall's leader was Collin Griffith's 123.