WHEELING — It was a long day on the Crispin Center Golf Course at Oglebay Park Tuesday for Class 1A and 2A teams at the annual OVAC Golf Championships.
For Wheeling Central, however, it was well worth it.
The Maroon Knights fired an impressive score of 295, which was 53 shots fewer than runner-up Conotton Valley during a day that provided chilly temperatures and a steady breeze.
The championship is the second consecutive and seventh in the last eight years for Central, which now owns 19 championships on the links.
“This is a great group of kids that plays and practices hard,” an extremely proud Central head coach Jim Mortakis said. “None of these kids folded. We played here a few weeks ago and had a very similar score, but it makes a big difference when (the kids) step up and play on the day when they’re supposed to.”
Central, which had all four of its counted scores in the 70s, has a couple more weeks of matches, but Mortakis and company are already thinking about the Class A regional, which is just under two weeks away in Mingo Bottom.
“I don’t want our kids peaking too early,” Mortakis said. “This (tournament) is just part of (the season). Our main goal is to be ready for the state tournament.”
Along with the team championship, the Maroon Knights grabbed four of the five spots on the All-OVAC squad, including the medalist and runner-up medalist.
Winning the OVAC title for the first time in his career was senior Ryan Costanzo, who shot a blistering 2-under par, 70, to win by two shots over teammate Justin Doerr.
“We had a match (at Crispin against St. Clairsville on Monday) and I didn’t play well on the front nine, but I played well on the back nine,” Costanzo said. “I was able to find a rhythm, get on a run and make a lot of pars, and I got a couple of birdies fall. It was about consistency for me and I was able to plug my way around the golf course and got the job done.”
The biggest difference in the tune-up match on Monday, for Costanzo, was simply “finding the swing.”
“I hit the ball a lot better,” Costanzo said. “There was some slow play on the second nine, which may have helped me to set a tempo. I was able to relax a little bit. Plus, I putted a lot better and got up and down well, so I didn’t have to chip a whole lot.”
While the individual title means a lot to Costanzo, he was even more excited about bringing another team title back to East Wheeling.
“Being a part of three (OVAC) championships is something that’s really special and we can’t and shouldn’t take for granted,” Costanzo said. “I’d really like to thank our coach because he’s more than a coach. He’s very important to us.”
Along with Costanzo’s effort, Doeer — another senior member of the squad — checked in with the 72 to finish second. Landon Prager (76) and Luke Tiu (77) rounded out the scorers for the Knights. Ashton Glover also took part and shot a respectable 84.
The only non-Wheeling Central player on the All-OVAC squad was Monroe Central’s Zander Potts, who posted a round of 75.