Wheeling Central tops WVSSAC Class A golf tournament | News, Sports, Jobs

ON THE GREEN — Weir’s Jude Smith putts on Hole No. 9 during the state tournament Wednesday. – Cody Nespor

WHEELING — Wheeling Central landed all three of its scorers on the all-state team as the Maroon Knights ran away with the WVSSAC Class A state title at the Jones Course Wednesday.

Central entered Wednesday’s second round with a four-shot lead over second-place St. Marys. That lead quickly ballooned to 13 after nine holes and 28 when all was said and done.

“They played really well. I’ve been so proud of my kids all year long,” Central coach Justin Mortakis said. “This was their goal. It’s always my goal but not always do you have the players to succeed. This group succeeded today, they went out and took it for themselves.”

The Knights were powered by senior Justin Doerr, who shot 8-over 79 Wednesday to claim individual medalist honors. He finished with a two-day score of 162 (83+79), three shots better than Will Gruse from Charleston Catholic.

“Toward the end of the round I started picking up some momentum and ended up on top,” Doerr said. “Honestly, I hit it on the wrong side of the pins for the first 27 holes of this tournament and then the last nine I just started hitting it solid again and it ended up working out in my favor.”

Doerr was one of two golfers in Class A to break 80 Wednesday, the other was teammate Luke Tiu, who also shot 79, had an eight-shot improvement from day one to finish in a tie for third with a score of 166 (87+ 79).

Senior Ryan Costanzo shot 82 Wednesday to finish in a tie for fifth with a score of 167 (85+82) as Central’s third all-state performer.

“Luke had one heck of a round, I’m really happy for him,” Doerr said. “Ryan deserves it. These four years with him have been the most fun I’ve ever had.”

“They’re the greatest two kids you could ever have,” Mortakis said of his seniors. “It’s super rewarding to have three kids make all-state.”

Doerr has been close in past state tournaments, but finally broke through Wednesday with a solid final nine holes. He shot 6-over on the back nine and improved to 2-over on the front.

“After all these years, getting runner-up twice the last two years, getting runner-up as a team last year, I just really wanted to finish it off this year,” Doerr said. “Not for me, for all the guys. It was honestly the best experience I’ve ever had, I love being with these guys and I couldn’t imagine being up where without them.

“There’s nothing better than coming out and playing with these guys. I couldn’t be happier to end my high school career here.”

Central came into Wednesday with a four-shot lead over eventual runner-up St. Marys. Doerr’s improvement on the front nine combined with Tiu’s blistering round, which included four birdies, lifted the Knights to the victory.

“It was so close with St. Mary and Wahama, we told the guys it’s just an 18-hole tournament at this point,” Doerr said about the team’s mindset entering Wednesday’s round. “Four shots for the team is not a whole lot, I was down one, that’s not a whole lot. Anything can happen in golf.”

Central’s fourth golfer, Landon Prager, shot 180 (88+92) to finish in 20th place. Tyler Consolidated’s Mason Nichols came in 22nd as an individual competitor with a score of 190 (102+88).

Class AA

Keyser made just enough shots to preserve a three-shot lead over runner-up Winfield to claim the Class AA team title. Keyers’ Noah Broadwater shot 150 (75+75) to claim individual medalist honors.

Weir’s Jude Smith landed on the all-state team after finishing in a tie for eighth place with a two-day score of 172 (86+86).

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