WHEELING, W.Va. -- The Charleston Catholic golf team put itself in some pretty good company during two days at Oglebay Resort's Robert Trent Jones Course.The Irish used all of its resources to secure a 473 and to defeat Michael Rogers and Madonna by 10 strokes to earn its third title at the high school State Tournament.Coach Bill Gillispie's team became the sixth team in state history to win three straight crowns, joining Buckhannon-Upshur (1980-82), Barboursville (1983-85), Bridgeport (1992-94), Huntington (1997-99) and Hurricane (2007-09). Catholic is the first Class A team to win three in a row since the Secondary School Activities Commission added a third class to golf competition in 2002."It's special to win one and it's really special to be in that group that includes the Hurricanes and the Wheeling Parks," Gillispie said.Catholic finished ahead of the Blue Dons, but senior Aaron Persily couldn't overcome Rogers, who shot a 75 in the second round and finished one stroke ahead for individual honors.Persily finished tied for fourth as a freshman, second by three strokes as a sophomore, second by one stroke as a junior and second by one stroke as a senior."Aaron becomes the most accomplished golfer, to date, at Charleston Catholic," Gillispie said. "Three team championships, a runner-up, first-team all-state all four years. Next year, Christian (Casingal) has a chance to top that with four years."What Gillispie said was just as helpful from Persily as his performance on the course was his leadership. Persily played Wednesday's second round with Rogers, St. Marys' Coleman Lamp and teammate Nick Casingal.Nick Casingal hit two balls into the water on No. 14, and was consoled by Persily.
"I looked down, through the fairway and saw Aaron put his arm around him," Gillispie said. "That's invaluable, to have a guy at the top who is such a leader and such a team player. That's probably the moment I'll remember the most."Persily had his chances, but hit his tee shot out of bounds on No. 2 and finished with a six on the par-4 hole. Rogers extended his lead to three strokes with a birdie.He closed within a stroke later in the round, and saw Rogers' 4-inch tap-in on No. 15 - their last hole - to win it, but the 370-yard second hole gave Persily some ground he had to make up."I just wanted to give myself a chance to make the putt," said Rogers, who finished fifth last year. "I hit a solid shot on the green, was probably 15 or 20 feet away. I knew if I made it, he would have a hard shot coming back to make five."
The individual result didn't diminish the accomplishments of Catholic, which graduates only Persily. Junior Christian Casingal struggled to match his 2011 performance that led to medal honors, but he has a chance to become the first player in state history, in any class, to be a part of four state team championships."It's sweet," Casingal said. "We have Aaron, who beat me this year. We have Nick, who beat me in the first round, and now we have Cameron (Blakley), who's a really good freshman. Jackson (Ellis), he was happy with what he did today. He had fun out there, and that's what counts."
Ellis, a junior, played in the first round of the 2012 State Tournament and played in the second round Wednesday after Blakley played the first 18.Lamp finished fourth, Buffalo's Cory Hoshor, the 2012 Class A medalist, overcame an 87 in the first round with a 76 during the second to earn All-State honors. Nick Casingal finished with a 164, as did Madonna's Alex Colantonio, while Parkersburg Catholic's Ben Collie fired a 165 to round out the top eight and the All-State picks.Three Catholic players earned All-State with Persily and Christian Casingal finishing second and third respectively."Christian told me he was probably out of it for individual medalist, but it was important to play well for the team," Gillispie said. "He did what he needed to do. It's a pretty special group."
* * *WHEELING PARK overcame the loss of one of the state's top prep players to win its third state championship in four years with a five-stroke victory over Cabell Midland.The Knights made up two strokes on the first-round leader, and held off Shady Spring for second by one stroke.
Wheeling Park junior Cole Hand, who ended former teammate Thadd Obecny's streak of consecutive individual titles last year, won medal honors for the second consecutive year.He held off Parkersburg South's Alex Schreckengost and Princeton's Tyler Hillyer by three strokes.Just before the beginning of the season, Wheeling Park found out it would be without Obecny, who was home schooled this season and wouldn't be playing competitively for the Patriots. Obecny won Class AAA medal honors in 2010 and 2011."We really didn't know for sure until a couple days before the season," Hand said. "As soon as it happened, we knew we would have to do it without him. I knew we could still win the State Tournament without him it would just be a little tougher, which it was."The Knights made a run with the help of Mark Wilcox, who improved by seven strokes from Tuesday's first round. In fact, Wilcox was one of 11 Class AAA players to shoot below 80, compared to only four during the first day.Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org