St. Clairsville captures OVAC 4A championship

CHIPPING — Buckeye Local’s Emily Holzopfel competes in the OVAC 4A tournament on Tuesday. (Photo by Seth Staskey)

WHEELING — Not too often is golf considered a true team sport.

It is in St. Clairsville, and that was on full display Tuesday at the chilly and soggy Jones Course at Oglebay Park’s Spiedel Golf Club.

The Red Devils produced the top two finishers in the event and posted a collective score of 328, en route to the their 24th OVAC golf championship in school history and first since 2011.

Further proving the team concept even more was how the individual title was sorted out. St. Clairsville’s dynamic senior duo of Jacob Jeffries and Brendan Vucelich finished at significantly different times.

Jeffries was in one of the first groups back to the clubhouse, with a card signed for an impressive round of 4-over, 76.

He milled around the clubhouse area, grabbed a bite to eat and waited as scores were posted to the wall. Several minutes later, Vucelich’s group turned in its card and up went another score of 76 for the Red Devils.

“I actually birdied the 18th hole for that 76,” Vucelich said.

After all of the scores were posted, tournament director Mel Pesuit announced there would be a playoff to determine the winner. Neither Jeffries nor Vucelich was having any of it.

Collectively, the two decided they didn’t want to go back on the course to face each other in a one-hole playoff. Instead, they convinced Pesuit to simply be called co-champions.

“We’re best friends, we’ve been best friends and there was just no way we were going to play against each other,” Jeffries said. “Co-champs is the best way to go. We’ve seen each other go from shooting in the 90s to shooting in the low 70s to being not very good as a team to winning this. It’s just a great way to go out as seniors.”

Though the two did acknowledge they are competing against each other each time they set foot on the course together, being called co-champ was actually icing on the cake because of the team success.

“We won (the team title) and there’s nothing wrong with being a co-champion, especially when it’s with your teammate and friend,” Vucelich said. “An OVAC (team) title was something that we didn’t have, and it’s huge for us to win it as a senior. Nothing mattered more than the team today.”

Though there are no scoreboards posted at prep golf tournaments, the pair was close enough to one another that they crossed paths a few times.

“We talked a few times on the course, and I knew he was posting some lower numbers early, and I was actually higher in the early part of the round,” Vucelich said. “I knew if I even wanted to have a chance to be in it and, more importantly, do my part for the team, I had to play better.”

Though the course was extremely saturated, Jeffries didn’t mind it because it suited his aggressive style.

“You could really throw darts at the pins because the ball was sticking,” Jeffries said. “It was tough, though, at times.”

Vucelich wouldn’t let the conditions become an issue to him, continually reminding himself that some 60 other players were facing the same terrain.

With those two scores posted, the remainder of the team race was almost anticlimatic, shifting from who would win the team title to by how many would the Red Devils prevail.

St. C. came into the tournament as the favorite and, with Vucelich and Jeffries leading the way, was able to deliver an impressive score despite difficult conditions, many of which were caused by the multiple inches of rain which fell last weekend.

“I am proud of how the guys kept their heads in the game despite the conditions,” Myers said. “We were all nervous (when we got to the course), especially when we realized we wouldn’t be able to hit range balls. We tried to go out and play a little bit (on Monday), but that didn’t work out well because of the flooding and things. But, we had played this course a few times and we knew it would be a test. The kids kept their heads and got it done.”

Along with the work that Jeffries and Vucelich put forth, senior Broc Crist (85) and Saul Crist (91), who moved to St. Clairsville during the summer from Lincoln County, put forth their usual solid performances.

Myers, who was a part of the last two St. C. teams to win an OVAC title, simply called himself “blessed” to have the team he does in his first season.

“To bring back an OVAC title for the first time since I played is a great feeling,” Myers said. “These kids are amazing and I’m just fortunate to have these guys.”

St. Clairsville prevailed by 27 shots over Cambridge, which claimed the title last year. Harrison Central (356), Beaver Local (379) and Buckeye Local (389) rounded out the top five team scorers.

Cambridge’s Ian Smith (79), Harrison Central’s Cruz Capers (79) and Beaver Local’s T.J. Wilson (82) rounded out the top five, individually for all-OVAC honors.

Ohio Valley Athletic Conference

Golf Championship

Class 4A

(at Oglebay Park’s Jones Course; Par 72)

TEAM SCORES: St. Clairsville, 328; Cambridge, 355; Harrison Central, 356; Beaver Local, 379; Buckeye Local, 389; Meadowbrook, 405; Oak Glen, 465; Edison, 467; Martins Ferry, 475; East Liverpool, NFT.

Individual Scores

St. C. — Brendan Vucelich, 76; Jacob Jeffries, 76; Broc Crist, 85; Saul Crist, 91.

Camb — Ian Smith, 79; A.J. Wilkin, 87; Chris Dilts, 93; Dominic Cork, 96.

HC — Cruz Capers, 79; Cameron McIntosh, 87; Sam Santille, 94; Nick Coffland, 96.

Beaver — T.J. Wilson, 82; Luke Eyster, 89; Grant Hall, 97; Sky Papas, 111.

Buckeye — Blake Ring-Fish, 91; Sean Kubic, 95; Emily Holzopfel, 97; Owen Long, 118.

M — Cage Black, 96; Tucker Rogers, 89; Alex Dennis, 114; ; Cole Eltringham, 116.

OG — Jacob Gittings, 101; Josh Cline, 105; Aidan Hall, 122; Caleb Cline, 122.

Ed — George Ash, 96; Andrew Pugh, 107; Sage Christiansen, 122; Sadie Allen, 142.

MF– Chuckie Schau, 101; Luke Krol, 102; Noah Kovalsky, 126; Cole Olinski, 146.