WHEELING — George Washington has a chance. Poca’s Mitch Hoffman does too. As for six-time defending Class A state champion Charleston Catholic, it has work to do.
That’s the story after the first grinding, grueling day at the state golf tournament Tuesday on the Jones Course at Oglebay resort.
GW (243) sits three shots out of first place in Class AAA behind Washington (240) and two shots behind two-time defending champion Cabell Midland (241) in a tight team race that likely won’t be decided until the final holes in Wednesday’s second and final round.
Senior Torren Kalaskey, playing in the classification’s premier group alongside Midland’s Josef Dransfeld (74), Washington’s Christian Boyd (75) and Wheeling Park’s Jacob Nickell (78), made three big up-and-down pars down the stretch to grind her way to a 7-over-par 78 to help buoy the Patriots. Kalaskey’s younger brother Joseph Kalaskey finished with an 81 and the Patriots’ No. 4 Colt Gillispie saved the team six shots with an 84 after No. 3 John Logan Taylor struggled a bit in finishing with a 90. The top three scores of four count toward the team total.
“[Monday]night I preached to them how, the last few years after the first day, we’ve put ourselves in a position where we weren’t going to be able to make up that many strokes,” GW coach B.J. Calabrese said. “[Monday] night we talked about limiting the damage and I think for the most part we did that. Overall, I’m real pleased with their effort. We’re three shots back and that’s certainly very doable.”
Torren Kalaskey’s 78 marks a career best at the Jones Course and she will need a similar round Wednesday if GW is to make up the ground it needs on solid Washington and Midland squads.
“I’m pretty happy,” she said. “Overall I’m glad I improved. Maybe tomorrow we’ll go shoot in the 60s and make up for it.”
As for Catholic, the Irish find themselves in an unfamiliar spot — trailing at the state golf tournament.
It wasn’t a day to write home about for any of the team’s four players. Nate Detemple and Wilson Meeks posted matching 85s to lead the team. The Irish’s team total of 261 puts them in fourth place, eight shots back of Class A leader Ravenswood (253). Madonna (258) and Wheeling Central (259) are also ahead of Catholic.
“I just think we got a little frustrated and things got away from us,” Catholic coach Sam Helmick said. “We had a ball out of bounds on the first hit of the day. We had balls out of bounds, balls in the water, lost range finders – anything that could have happened other than an act of God with some locusts flying in here or something happened to us today. The hope is that we can settle down, get a good night of sleep and come back and play the way we’re typically able to play.”
Detemple, Alex Giatris and Jack Cimino all played in Wheeling a year ago as Catholic clinched its sixth straight crown, and all will have to rely on that experience Wednesday to fight the nerves, stay poised under pressure and negotiate a course that once again gnarled its teeth at the field on Tuesday. Only two players notched rounds under par across all three classes.
“I’m hoping, but right now they’re pretty frustrated,” Helmick said. “I’m trying to tell them, ‘You can’t go back and change today, all you can worry about is tomorrow.’ We’ve got to focus on what we can do and let all that stuff bother us.”
One of those two rounds under par belonged to Bridgeport’s Mason Williams, who shot a 1-under 70 to lead the Class AA individual race. Williams won AA medalist honors as a sophomore in 2015 but was beat out by Wyoming East’s Brett Laxton a year ago.
Poca’s Hoffman is six strokes behind Williams in the AA individual race after a 5-over 76. That puts the Dots senior in a tie for second place alongside Wyoming East’s Patrick Smith.
Hoffman was 1 over par at the turn, but three-putts on holes 12, 13 and 14 piled up and ruined an otherwise solid round in which he was pleased with his ball striking.
“Those are probably some of the toughest greens out here,” Hoffman explained. “I hit the ball really well, I’m not mad about it really.
“I started bogey-bogey, and that always happens at the state tournament. Got it together with birdies on 5 and 6 and got it back to even and bogeyed 9 so I’m 1 over at the turn, which isn’t bad at all. [The three-putts] really killed the momentum.”
Poca struggled as a team, posting a combined score of 278 to fall to eighth place. Wyoming East recorded a score of 238 in trying to defend its team crown. The Warriors are 12 shots ahead of second-place Bridgeport and 19 clear of third-place Westside in the Class AA team race.
Buckhannon-Upshur’s Christian McKisic, last year’s Class AAA medalist, made a big step toward defending his crown with a 1-over-par 72, putting him in the lead by two shots over Dransfeld and Parkersburg’s Isaac Prine.
But the round of the day belonged to Madonna’s Howie Peterson, who birdied his last two holes to finish with a 4-under 67, believed to be the lowest round since the tournament moved to Wheeling in 2002.
“Played pretty conservative all day, didn’t get real stupid with any of my shots,” Peterson said. “One goal in mind was to go low and keep grinding all day.
“It was just a good solid round. Helped keep my team in it, I think we’re five back, and that’s not a lot. We can definitely come back and win it as a team.”
Wednesday’s second round begins with a shotgun start at 9 a.m.