April 23, 2014

Medina
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High school golf 2011: Talent delaying Titsworth’s senior season

It’s like Beau Titsworth just walked up to the tee of a water-lined par 5 and found three foursomes waiting on the tee, two in the fairway and another on the green.

No sense getting angry. All he can do is wait.

Two weeks of his final year of high school golf are already in the books, and the St. Ignatius senior and Avon Lake resident has yet to hit a shot for the Wildcats.

It’s not an injury that’s keeping him on the sideline; it’s his talent.

Titsworth, you see, just happens to be one of the top junior golfers in the country. So good, in fact, that he’s still playing the Junior circuit. This week he’s at the Randy Wise Junior Open at Warwick Hills in Michigan, where they used to hold the PGA Tour’s Buick Open, and he’ll be at the prestigious Junior Players Championship in Florida on Aug. 31-Sept. 4, playing the same course – TPC Sawgrass – the pros play their Players Championship, often called the fifth major.

Not a bad gig, but under Ohio High School Athletic Association rules, he can’t play those tournaments and for his high school at the same time.

So he waits.

“It’s kind of frustrating, because I have to watch,” Titsworth said as he practiced putting recently at Red Tail, his home course.

He hopes to be back in time for the Kiely Cup, the Wildcats’ second-to-last scheduled match of the regular season in mid-September, then lead the ‘Cats into the postseason.

Well, he expects to lead them, anyway. His friend and fellow senior Matt Gerard, who’s playing No. 1 for the ‘Cats in Titsworth’s absence, might have other ideas.

“He made a joke that I’ll be playing No. 2 when I get back,” Titsworth said. “That was not good.”

Titsworth and the ‘Cats have been better than good at the Division I state tournament in his three years, just not as good as they wanted to be. Ignatius has finished third, third and second, while Titsworth tied for sixth his first two years then took second last year, just three shots out of first.

His 147 (75-72) total at OSU’s Scarlet Course would have been good enough to win all but two of the past 10 state tournaments that went the full 36 holes. (Rain shortened the 2009 tourney to 18 holes.)

Even more frustrating, Titsworth knows he could have played even better.

“It was putting,” he said of why he believes he came up just short. “I missed a couple I should have made.”

Still burned into his brain is the second hole on the first day of the tournament, when it took him four shots to put the ball in the hole from just in front of the green. He chipped to within 3 feet, only to three-putt.

Sounds like a real motivating factor for this season, doesn’t it?

“You’d have to ask him,” St. Ignatius coach Terry Hopkins said, “but I don’t have to ask him. If he’s going down there his goal is to win. He doesn’t play for second.

“He’s one of the most driven athletes I’ve ever seen, no matter the sport. He gets out here and he just grinds. He’s striving for perfection.”

Titsworth doesn’t disagree.

“Of course, I want to win everything,” he said. “It doesn’t always happen like that. I try to give it my all.”

If there’s a parallel to the state tournament it might be the Cleveland Junior Open at Red Tail. Two summers ago, Titsworth led coming to the final hole, only to stumble and settle for a tie for second. This year he blitzed the field with a tournament-tying 8-under 64 in the first round and went on to win by 14 shots for his first Junior win.

He credits an improved attitude for his success.

“My mental game has come a long way,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been focusing on. The problem my freshman year was I’d have a bad hole and it would affect me for three or four holes and then I’d let the round get away from me.”

Hopkins has seen the same progress.

“Tee to green he’s really solid, but I think over the course of the last four years his biggest improvement has been mentally,” Hopkins said. “He understands why he should or shouldn’t hit a shot and he understands the game more from a course-management standpoint. That would help any golfer, but he’s really thrown his arms around that.”

Golf has always been a big part of Titsworth’s life and he doesn’t see that changing any time soon. He’s already given an oral commitment to Oklahoma, saying he liked everything about the school and the coach, and loves the fact he’ll be able to play year-round.

From there he’s hoping to make it on the PGA Tour.

“That’s the only option I’m giving myself,” he said. “I don’t want to sit behind a desk.”

While he knows he’s still got a long way to go to get to that point, he plans to enjoy the journey.

“It’s all about having fun,” he said. “This year’s been a lot more fun. I think I had to finally win something to prove I could. I knew I could do it, I just had to do it.”

Contact Kevin Aprile at 329-7135 or kaprile@chroniclet.com.

BOYS TEAMS

NORTHERN OHIO CONFERENCE

Elyria Pioneers

COACH: Jim Kistler, 9th year
2010 RECORD: 9-5, 5-5 (2nd in conference tourney)
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Roman King, sr.; Ryan Haddox, sr.; Ryan Messer, jr.; Kevin Koepp, jr.
TOP NEWCOMER: Billy Yrad, jr.
HOME COURSE: Forrest Hills
THE SKINNY: King made districts last year, but all four returning lettermen can shoot in the 70s. That’s a strong foundation, but the Pioneers still need to find a solid fifth and sixth player to take some of the pressure off the Big Four.

LAKE ERIE LEAGUE

Lorain Titans

COACH: Chris Dorsey, 1st year
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jessie Herda, sr.; Connor Anderson, jr.; Alex Tomazic, so.; Jordan Antus, jr.; Collin Velasquez, so.; Jacob Thacker, so.; Adrian Calez, jr.; Darrian Jiminez, so.; Luis Jiminez, sr.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Mike Velez, so.; Aaron Andujar, so.; Nate Drabiak, jr.; Nick Reed, fr.
HOME COURSE: FoxCreek
THE SKINNY: Though the Titans are made up of players relatively new to the game, Dorsey is optimistic they can be one of the better teams in the LEL. One reason for that optimism is four of his returning players spent the summer honing their games on the Lake Erie Junior Golf Association circuit.

PATRIOT ATHLETIC

CONFERENCE

Black River Pirates

COACH: Jeff Calame, 28th year
2010 RECORD: 5-3, 3-3
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Jackson Weinzatl, sr.; Alex Kramer, jr.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Jack Kenzig, jr.; Justin Campbell, jr.; Logan Wolfe, sr.
HOME COURSE: Deer Pass
THE SKINNY: Good attitudes are rarely a substitute for good short games, but for the Pirates this season they might have to do. Inexperience is rampant, which is probably to be expected after graduation and pay-to-play have left Calame with just five players.

Columbia Raiders

COACH: Chuck Sincel, 2nd year
2010 RECORD: 7th PAC tourney and overall
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Matt Schofield, sr.; Zach Stopper, jr.; Mike Hershey, jr.; Jacob Miller, jr.; Jacob Simon, jr.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Chris Metz, sr.; Sean Delahunty, jr.; Billy Sweeny, jr.
HOME COURSE: Dorlon Park
THE SKINNY: The Raiders are still young, but they should be much improved thanks to their returning players and the addition of Stopper, a mid-to-high-70s shooter who was Padua’s No. 2 player a year ago. Metz, who didn’t play last season, should also see considerable time on varsity. Sincel sees the Raiders moving out of the PAC basement and at least up a few floors.

Firelands Falcons

COACH: Sean Silvasy, 2nd year
2010 RECORD: 6-8 in WSC
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Eric Lawson, sr.; Matt Baker, sr.; Caleb Petersen, jr.; Nick Gulish, jr.; Tyler Vrabel, jr.; Dylan Newman, so.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Nick Rado, jr.; Cody Weston, so.; Mitch Hildebrandt, fr.
HOME COURSE: Willow Creek
THE SKINNY: It looks like another rebuilding season for the Falcons, who were hit hard by graduation two years ago then had four players decide not to return from last year’s team. Lawson, a district qualifier a year ago, has shown he can compete with most golfers in the county, which should be a big boost as the Falcons move from the West Shore to the PAC.

Keystone Wildcats

COACH: Greg Morgan, 19th year
2010 RECORD: 5th PAC tourney, 6th overall
TOP PLAYERS: Scott Wolfe, sr.; Brandon Osborne, sr.; Caleb Schillace, sr.; Bradey Clanin, so.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Ryan Voelker, jr.; Eli Benko, so.
HOME COURSE: Indian Hollow Lake
THE SKINNY: Wolfe and Osborne can both shoot in the 70s, but these ‘Cats are not built to go real low. Consistency will be their game, but Morgan believes on any given day they have the ability to knock off the top teams in the league.

Wellington Dukes

COACH: Ron Clady, 7th year
2010 RECORD: 4-2, 2nd PAC tourney, 3rd overall
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Freddy Senghas, sr.; Dylan Barris, sr.; Billy Kinzel, sr.; Keith Sinkel, sr.
HOME COURSE: Echo Valley
THE SKINNY: Senghas, a first-team all-league player last year, is off to a strong start, averaging 78 in the early season. He, Barris and Kinzel give the Dukes a solid top three, but Clady is looking for a consistent No. 4 to emerge. If he finds one, he believes the Dukes can be a factor in the PAC.

SOUTHWESTERN CONFERENCE

Amherst Comets

COACH: Aaron Millet, 5th year
2010 RECORD: 5th SWC, district qualifier
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Bob Greuter, sr.; Mike Campana, so.; Connor Morris, jr.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Matt Dadas, jr.; Matt Andrews , jr.
HOME COURSE: FoxCreek
THE SKINNY: The Comets have made it to districts two of the last three years, but might have a tough time making it three out of four. Not because they don’t have talent – Greuter and Campana have all-league potential – but just because they don’t have a ton of experience.

Avon Lake Shoremen

COACH: Amy Manco, 13th year
2010 RECORD: 14-0, SWC champs; state qualifier
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Andrew Lombardi, sr.; Brendan Aussem, jr.; Clay Sharb, jr.; Zach Sharb, jr.; Austin Kryc, jr.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Luke Latsko, sr.
HOME COURSE: Sweetbriar
THE SKINNY: If county opponents were hoping the Shoremen would come out complacent after making it to state last year for the second time in school history, they’re out of luck. The Shoremen already own four tournament titles and appear poised to trump last year’s super-successful season. While that won’t be easy, it’s not impossible. Aussem, who made state as an individual as a freshman, has fired two 69s and a 73 in racking up three tourney wins. He, Lombardi and the Sharb twins are first-team all-league picks (Aussem and Lombardi also made first-team all-district) and Kryc, last year’s sixth man, was honorable mention all-league.

WEST SHORE CONFERENCE

Avon Eagles

COACH: Jeff Stevens, 14th year
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Mike Mooibroek, sr.; Preston Olsen, jr.; Danny Kelley, jr.; Joe Clifton, jr.; Sammy Stepchuk, jr.
TOP NEWCOMER: Ryan Sikora, fr.
HOME COURSE: Bob-O-Link
THE SKINNY: The Eagles already have a win, a second and a third this season and have been getting help from all corners. Junior Preston Olsen led the way with a 75 at one event, while freshman Ryan Sikora matched that score at another.

Elyria Catholic Panthers

COACH: Rick Montgomery, 1st year
2010 RECORD: 2nd White Division, North Coast League tourney
TOP RETURNING PLAYER: Kevin Laing, sr.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Bradford Qua, sr.; Tyler Riddell, jr.
HOME COURSE: Brentwood
THE SKINNY: Montgomery takes over for Tom Porter, who stepped down after leading the Panthers for 14 years. He’ll have a pretty inexperienced team to work with as the Panthers leave behind the North Coast League for the West Shore Conference. Laing is the top player, but Montgomery doesn’t have a lot of other tournament-tested players he can rely on.

Midview Middies

COACH: Randy Camp, 11th year
2010 RECORD: 6-8, 4th WSC
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Dominic Szpak, sr.; Zack Johnson, sr.; Jason Pickering, sr,; Bret Gerbec, jr.; Kyle Warner, so.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Taylor Stephens, jr.; Ryan Cicone, jr.
HOME COURSE: Brentwood
THE SKINNY: Szpak is a three-year letterman, last year’s team MVP and an honorable mention all-league pick, while Johnson is a two-year letterman and honorable mention all-league pick. That’s a solid 1-2 punch, and the Middies also have depth. If they get some consistency from the bottom part of the order they could be a team to watch.

North Ridgeville Rangers

COACH: Mike Belpusi, 7th year
2010 RECORD: 7-7
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Christian Kelch, sr.; Matt Musci, sr.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Austin Rolfe, jr.; Matt Findlay, jr.; Dennis Millgard, so.; Garrett Orseno, so.; Dan Musci, so.
HOME COURSE: Creekwood
THE SKINNY: Kelch and Matt Musci are solid, but there’s not a lot of experience in the rest of the lineup. Still, Belpusi is hoping for a middle-of-the-pack finish in the conference.

Vermilion Sailors

COACH: Joe Tellier, 5th year
2010 RECORD: 4-10
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Nate Annable, jr.; Gabe Skahen, sr.; Mitch Peterson, jr.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Aaron Skahen, so.; Rick Tishma, so.
HOME COURSE: Willow Creek
THE SKINNY: These Sailors are still searching for their sea legs. Of the 14 players on the team, 10 are freshmen or sophomores, so this season will be mostly about learning.

INDEPENDENTS

Lake Ridge Lions

COACH: Andrew Edgar, 4th year
2010 RECORD: 11-0, 1st sectional, state qualifier
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Mitchell Rice, sr.; Thomas Tavolara, sr.; Ryan McCarthy, so.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Danny Fulop, so.; Roger Peckham, so.; John Bennett, sr.; Rahil Patel, sr.
HOME COURSE: Cherry Ridge
THE SKINNY: Three players are back from a team that won a Division III sectional title, took second in the district and made it to state. However, two key members of that team have graduated along with two other seniors. Not that the Lions lack talent. Rice is a two-time defending sectional champ and a first-team district pick who has posted the lowest stroke average on the team each of his three years on varsity. Tavolara and McCarthy, meanwhile, played in the state tournament.

Christian Community Warriors

COACH: Al Roach, 1st year
TOP PLAYERS: Weston Lucas, sr.; Jordan Nyerges, sr.; Nate Hull, jr., Ryan Brown, fr.
HOME COURSE: Grey Hawk
THE SKINNY: This is the first year for the Warriors’ golf program and it came together rather suddenly, leaving little time to assemble a schedule. So for now, the Warriors will play Open Door twice and Lake Ridge once while looking for whatever other matches they can find. Lucas, the only player with much experience, has been known to shoot in the 70s.

Open Door Patriots

COACH: Ken Trigg, 6th year
2010 RECORD: 2-7
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Nick Kerecz. jr.; Luke Lazar, so.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Uriel Manning, sr.; Alice Clark, so.
HOME COURSE: Brentwood
THE SKINNY: The Patriots are short on experience and, well, players. Only four are out for the team, meaning if one is sick or unavailable, they can’t play. That’s already happened once. Kerecz is in his second year of playing golf, which makes him a wily veteran compared to some of his teammates who are taking up the game for the first time.

GIRLS TEAMS

LAKE ERIE LEAGUE

Lorain Titans

COACH: Dino Pappas, 3rd year
2010 RECORD: 4-9
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Chelsea Greenfield, so.; Ashley Lopez, sr.; Taylor Straka, sr.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Mallery Carver, jr.; Gail Harmon, jr.; Alysha Pishner, jr.; Kayleigh Fazio, jr.; Gretchen Conibear, fr.
HOME COURSE: Cherry Ridge
THE SKINNY: The Titans are young and inexperienced. This will be a season all about improvement.

SOUTHWESTERN CONFERENCE

Amherst Comets

COACH: Dave Zvara, 4th year
2010 RECORD: 7-11, 6th in SWC
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Emily Majzun, sr.; Maddie Miller, sr.; Jennifer Sutton, sr.; Emily George, sr.; Natalie Kendrick, sr.
HOME COURSE: FoxCreek
THE SKINNY: The Comets have a lot of seniors, just not a lot of scorers right now. Majzun is the most consistent, averaging around 47 for nine.

Avon Lake Shoregals

COACH: Kevin Fitch, 9th year
2010 RECORD: 17-4, 12-2 (2nd); district qualifier
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Corynn Krieg, jr.; Mallory Koeth, sr.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Niki Schroeder, fr.; Bridget McCoy, jr.; Sarah Crist, jr.; Taylor Browns, jr.
HOME COURSE: Sweetbriar
THE SKINNY: What’s minus-five plus two? OK, enough with the math, but the answer could determine the Shoregals’ fortunes this year. Five seniors graduated from a team that went 17-4, finished second in the SWC and advanced to districts, but the Shoregals still have two of the best players the area has to offer in Corynn Krieg, a junior, and freshman sensation Niki Schroeder. Those two, plus the senior leadership of Koeth, leads Fitch to believe there’s no reason the Shoregals shouldn’t challenge for the SWC title and have a shot at making it to districts for a fourth straight season.

WEST SHORE CONFERENCE

Avon Eagles

COACH: Frank DeSmit, 4th year
2010 RECORD: 10-2, 7-1 (1st); district qualifier
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Kaitlin Neumann, jr.; Mary Dickson, sr.; Amanda Emery, sr.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Lisa Wallace, so.; Hannah Strack, so., Hannah DeSmit, so.; Erin McNamee, jr.
HOME COURSE: Bob-O-Link
THE SKINNY: Neumann, last year’s conference MVP, is one of the best in the area, but the Eagles lost four of their top seven from their dominating teams of the past two seasons. Dickson is back to lend experience, but how the Eagles do will depend largely on how well the younger players adapt.

North Ridgeville Rangers

COACH: Norm Frindt, 3rd year
2010 RECORD: 7-7, 2-6
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: Nicole Effinger, sr.; Allison Bussard, sr.; Nikki Gannon, sr.; Natasha Taleff, sr.; Kayla Sands, jr.; Aimee Caraszi, so.; Ashley Caraszi, so.
HOME COURSE: Pine Brook
THE SKINNY: The Rangers have plenty of depth this year, but Frindt is a little concerned about his team’s overall ball-striking. If that comes around, the Rangers could make some noise in the WSC.

Vermilion Sailors

COACH: Janelle Molenaar, 1st year
TOP PRETURNING PLAYERS: Taylor Fortner, jr.; Jessica Lardie, jr.; Alex Kyle, jr.; Laura Allen, Jr.
TOP NEWCOMERS: Sarah Hall, fr.; Monroe Maill, fr.
HOME COURSE: Willow Creek
THE SKINNY: Molenaar is hoping to build a program and with that in mind is concentrating on making sure the team just keeps improving. Fortner and Lardie are the top returnees, averaging around 42 and 46, respectively, for nine holes.

BOYS TOP PLAYERS

Beau Titsworth, St. Ignatius (Avon Lake resident), senior

While the Oklahoma recruit hasn’t played one hole of high school golf this season while he prepares for two prestigious national tournaments, last year’s Division I state runner-up’s goals are neither modest nor unrealistic: Individual and team state championships.

Brendan Aussem, Avon Lake, junior

Confidence has been high ever since making state as a freshman. First-team all-league and all-district player has come out blazing to open the season, firing two 69s and picking up three tournament titles.

Mitchell Rice, Lake Ridge, senior

The first-team all-district player will be looking for a third straight Division III sectional championship.

Andrew Lombardi, Avon Lake, senior

Might not be able to take it as low as Titsworth and Aussem, but the all-league and all-district player is usually not too far from par.

Eric Lawson, Firelands, senior

District qualifier last year also won the Lorain County Athletic Administrators Association tournament.

BOYS TOP TEAMS

Avon Lake Shoremen

With five players back from a team that made it to state and a No. 1 who can shoot in the 60s, the Shoremen don’t seem to lack for much of anything, including early season wins. They have four.

Avon Eagles

After getting a win, a second and a third to open the season, the Eagles have to be feeling pretty good right about now.

Elyria Pioneers

Potential is the buzzword for the Pioneers, who have a solid top four, not to mention a tournament win under their belt.

GIRLS TOP PLAYERS

Niki Schroeder, Avon Lake, freshman

Moves to the top of the class based on her early results, which include a pair of wins. She’s also rewriting the school’s record book. Not bad for someone who’s only been playing two-and-a-half years.

Kaitlin Neumann, Avon, jr.

West Shore Conference MVP set a school record with a 1-under 34 in a dual match last season at Bob-O-Link.

Corynn Krieg, Avon Lake, jr.

One bad round has kept this steady player from averaging in the 30s for nine holes in the early going. Has made first-team All-SWC two straight years.

GIRLS TOP TEAMS

Avon Lake Shoregals and Avon Eagles

Both teams have been good the past few years, both have players who stand out among the best in the area and both lost a whole bunch of talent to graduation. Success should continue, but maybe not quite at the level of the past few years.