By Rob Kiser
PLEASANT HILL — When the Newton boys golf team became the first in school history to qualify for the state tournament last week, Newton coach Randall Jamison was thinking about more than just his golf team during that historic moment.
Tim Tilton, the longtime Southwest District golf tournament manager, who has given so many hours to help promote high school golf in the Southwest District, was the one to present the district championship trophy and just happens to be a Newton High School alumni.
“We have been to district several times now,” Randall Jamison said. “And Tim (Tilton) is a Newton alumnus and has always been there at the district tournament. He has done so much for the sport of golf. He coached, and his son was a Division III All-American in college. One of the things I told him is we wanted to do this for him. He got a little emotional and said that really means a lot.”
And Tilton is just one from the Newton community to understand the significance of what the team accomplished. They won the district title by one shot last week with a score of 343.
“It is kind of crazy,” Ross Ferrell said. “People will come up to me who I don’t even know and congratulate me. It has been pretty amazing.”
And the Indians are right where they hoped to be when the season started. With Newton’ s depth, it has been a battle for the top five spots all season.
While senior Chet Jamison leads the way and was sectional and district tournament medalist, as well as being Cross County Conference Player of the Year, rounding out the top five are seniors Garrett Peters and Nate Zielinski, junior Kleyson Wehrley and sophomore Ferrell.
All but Wehrley played at district last year, when Newton finished fifth with a 361 total.
“Even last year, we kind of looked at each other and said we are all back,” Peters said. “Even then, I think getting to state was a goal.”
Newton started the season with second-place finishes in the Dayton Christian Invitational and Dan Kendig Memorial.
After that, they won the National Trail Invitational, the CCC Preview and went 14-0 in regular season matches.
Ironically, finishing third at the CCC tournament may have been the best thing that could have happened. They have responded by winning the sectionals and district.
“I think the CCC motivated them,” Randall Jamison said. “They didn’t like the taste that (finishing third) left in their mouths.”
The win didn’t come easy at district.
They were trailing by seven shots with nine holes to go.
An amazing bunker shot by Zielinski on the 18th hole to save par helped them to a one-shot victory over Fort Loramie.
“I had no idea at the time what was at state,” Zielinski said. “There were still other players on the course.”
Chet Jamison shot a 3-under par 33 on the back nine to earn medalist honors with a 73.
Which is why he can’t help but think about competing for an individual title this weekend at North Star Golf Club. The Indians will play 18 holes Friday and Saturday.
“Of course, a little bit,” Chet Jamison said about thinking about the individual title. “You always want to win.”
And there are also family bragging rights.
His older brother Brock Jamison shot 80-84 on the Scarlet Course at Ohio State University in the 2015 tournament — tying for 15th.
“You always want to break your brother’s records,” Chet Jamison said with a grin.
Ironically, it was when Brock qualified for state that the seed of this year’s team was planted in Randall Jamison’s mind to have the team make it to state.
“I remember when Brock played at state,” Randall Jamison said. “It was great moment for me, having my son play in the state tournament. But it wasn’t the same as having the whole team over there. They were there to watch, but it wasn’t the same.”
And, in what Randall Jamison said will likely be his final year as Newton coach, he has the dream finish.
“For sure,” he said.
Not that the Indians are just happy to be there.
“I know some of those teams are shooting really low scores,” Randall Jamison said. “But, we will do what have done all year. We will look at it and go out and play our best.”
And for the players — there has to be a new goal.
“Maybe beat half the teams,” Peters said with a smile.
And no matter what happens, they will always be the first Newton golfers to play in the state tournament as a team.
“It is kind of crazy,” Wehrley said. “It is a small community, so everyone knows about it.”
Including Tilton, who had the honor of presenting his home high school with the district championship trophy for the first time.
Rob Kiser can be reached at (937) 451-3334.