By TONY VIOLA
WHEELING - Steven Gretchen and Donnie Gilbert are beginning to become regulars in the Ohio Valley golf circuit.
''We're weekend warriors,'' Gilbert, 24, of Glen Dale said. ''We just get together every weekend pretty much. Whether it's a scramble or a two-man best ball, we pretty much golf every weekend together.''
Saturday was no exception as the pair were in action on Oglebay's Palmer course during First Flight Best Ball competition of the Stoney Hollow Tire Amateur Championships.
Gretchen, who Gilbert openly admitted carried the team, shot a 33 on the front nine with four birdies and a 42 on the back to help give the pair a two-under-par-69 and a share of first place in the First Flight on the first day of the tournament.
Josh Anderson shot a four-under-par-67 to take the first day lead in the Championship Flight, while Bret Boulware, Larry Lis Jr., Bryan Myers, Mike Revak and Eric Snodgrass all shot a 68 to finish the day in a five-way tie for second. Thadd Obecny ended his day with a 70, good for third.
''(Gretchen) didn't start golfing bad at all until he realized what he was shooting,'' Gilbert said. ''After we added up the first nine, that's when the nerves started to kick in a little bit.''
It was on the 13th hole, a Par 3, when the nerves really kicked in for Gretchen.
Teeing off into a hole in the fairway, he muffed his second chip but got on the green with his third then two putted to earn a five.
''That gave me a double bogey, which killed me,'' Gretchen said. ''It brought me back to even par. The front really saved me.''
Not surprising considering the 16-year-old rising junior at Bishop Donahue broke the Bishops' school record for nine holes with a 35 at the Moundsville Country Club in his first season on the team.
''It's amazing to watch this kid play, honestly,'' Gilbert noted. ''He's only been golfing for one year and what he's done in a year, most people can't do in 10.
''That's what makes it fun, when you get to watch someone awesome play. You get to be there to witness it, even if you only get to help out on a couple holes. Like me, in my case, I only got to put my score down on four different holes (Saturday).
''To sit there and watch this kid shoot 4-over-par when he's probably shot under 100 rounds in his life is amazing. He was on fire. It was like watching ESPN.''
Gilbert actually was responsible for getting Gretchen to golf in the first place, however, it wasn't very long before Gretchen's skills passed those of Gilbert.
''He got much better than me, quick,'' Gilbert said. ''He puts in so much time and effort which I don't have.
''There's nothing he can't be good at. He's got the mind-set to be a great athlete. He'll golf in college and be damn good.''
Gretchen's 75 placed him in a tie for second place in the First Flight Medal chase, two strokes behind leaders Brad Crawford and John Tarr.
All seven championship medal leaders played the first day on the championship-quality Arnold Palmer Course and will compete on the Robert Trent Jones Course today in the final round of The Stoney.
Dave Clarke, John Kingora, Mark Mickley and Rick Zandron each shot a 69 to wage a four-way tie for first in the Senior Flight, while Gary Schrickel had a 70 to take sole ownership of first place in the Super Senior Flight.
2013 STONEY HOLLOW
Lis Jr, Larry68
Lemons, Jr, Bob80
Clark, John H.83
Van Laar, Grant83
Widmer Jr, Bill77
Carter, K C87
Bokanovich, P. J.90
Hand, Sr, Scott93
Radevski, T. J.105
Maguire Sr, Mark93
SUPER SENIOR FLIGHT
Dziak, Lis Jr64
Lemons, Jr, Picilla74
Fullerton, Van Laar76
Chiplinski, Widmer Jr74
Hand, Sr, Mercer79
Hockenberry, Maguire Sr93
SUPER SENIOR FLIGHT