McDERMOTT — With a Division II boys golf sectional full of the usual qualifying suspects, the names near the top of last Tuesday’s leaderboard at the Portsmouth Elks Country Club were truly of little-to-no surprise.
Wheelersburg was once again one of them, as was Minford senior Matthew Justice.
That’s because the Pirates finished third as a team at the Division II sectional meet for the second consecutive season, and automatically punched their ticket to Wednesday’s Division III Southeast District Tournament —to take place at Crown Hill Golf Club.
The Pirates, consisting of senior Levi Kidd combined with a foursome of juniors, shot a team total of 336 —just ahead of Pike County clubs Piketon (339) and Waverly (341).
In fact, Piketon placed second last season at the sectional and Fairland finished fourth—while Minford made it out as a team, with that fifth and final qualifying spot.
At the top, no shocker either — as the Ohio Valley’s Conference’s one-two tandem of champion Gallia Academy (313) and runner-up Fairland (322) took the two spots at the sectional meet, as only this season the Blue Devils, Dragons and Pirates were not separated by merely four strokes.
While Wheelersburg was at 336, and 10 strokes improved from last year’s team total, the Blue Devils —paced by senior and match medalist Laith Hamid with a 70 after his third-place 80 last year— did the best job by firing a 313, as the Dragons dialed up for a 322.
Fairland sophomore Jeremiah Frazier was the medalist runner-up at a 73, while Wheelersburg’s Brady Gill —along with Gallia Academy senior Beau Johnson and Piketon senior Owen Armstrong —all shot 78 to tie for third out of 67 individuals.
The four Gallia Academy counting cards all placed among the top-18, while all five GAHS cards were within the top-22.
For the Pirates, Gill was sixth individually as a sophomore last season with an 82 —but trailed then-teammate Owen Mault, now at South Webster.
Gill had 40 on the Elks front side and a 38 on the back —as three other juniors also made up the Pirates’ counting scores.
They included Eli Hall with an 83 (44-39), Owen Young with an 87 (45-42) and Carter Hancock with an 88 (45-43).
The tied for 10th-place Hall, like Gill, was a member of last season’s Burg fivesome —as Kidd was the fifth score on Tuesday with an 89 (45-44).
Young was 19th individually, and Hancock tied for 20th.
While Wheelersburg will be back as a team, so will Justice as an individual this time.
Justice, Chesapeake sophomore Jacob Skeens and Ironton sophomore Hunter Freeman finished with 85s and tied for 14th individually —as all three individually qualified for the district meet, as Justice took second-place thanks to a playoff on the first hole.
Freeman fired a 43 and 42, and won first in a playoff on the second hole, while Justice and Skeens shot identical 46s on the front followed by 39s on the back —with Justice taking second and Skeens third on the playoff.
The other individuals to qualify were Rock Hill senior Isaac Doolin and Ironton senior Chayden Kerns, as both shot identical 89s — and were fourth and fifth respectively in a playoff on the first hole.
Chesapeake junior Carter Collins — who also shot 89 along with Doolin, Kerns, Kidd and Fairland junior Ben Southard —tied for 23rd, but was the odd-man out on the playoff with Doolin and Kerns.
Landon Roberts, the Fairland senior who shot 75 for medalist honors last season, was tied for sixth this year with a 79.
Chesapeake (375), Ironton (377) and West (378) were in a crowded trio of sixth thru eighth-place teams —as were Northwest (407), Portsmouth (412), Minford (422) and even four-golfers Oak Hill (423) for 10th thru 13th place.
Oak Hill had two individual qualifiers last season.
A complete list of results can be found at www.baumspage.com.
The Division III Southeast District meet takes place on Wednesday morning at Crown Hill Golf Club.
Teeoff time is set for 9 a.m.