By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — Whether it was improvement from last year’s performance at the tournament or from early-season tournaments this year, all of Miami County’s teams competing in Monday’s Troy Invitational had something positive to take away from the day.
Which helped them all cope with the sudden rain that poured throughout the round’s final hour.
In the end, the Tippecanoe boys golf team finished third overall with a 327 behind champion Centerville’s 287 and runner-up Springboro’s 324. Host Troy was tied with Bellefontaine for seventh, taking the place with the fifth-score tiebreaker, Piqua was 11th with 404 and Troy Christian was 13th with 499.
The Red Devils, which had finished second to Northmont in a pair of 18-hole invitationals last week, topped the Thunderbolts’ 354 on Monday — only to run into the Elks and Panthers.
“We’ve been right there, but Centerville’s tough. They threw out a 76 today. Got rid of a 76,” Tippecanoe coach Aaron Jackson said. “But we’ve done well so far, as well as we expected. We just need to get that fourth score. We’ve been relying too much on our top three. But we’ve got kids that can do it. To finish in a tournament like this, looking at the other Miami Valley League schools, it’s good to finish ahead of them — but they’re close.”
Tippecanoe, which shot 335 as a team in last year’s Troy Invitational, was led by Nathan Gagnon, who was tied for second individually with a 72 — nine strokes better than his performance last year. Matt Salmon and Braydon Bottles both shot 82s, Austin Post added a 91, Joey Pleiman shot 98 and Nolan Lawson shot 98.
For the Trojans, home-field advantage wasn’t necessarily a thing, as only one of Troy’s players played in the tournament last year.
“I was hoping we’d score a little better, but again, this is an inexperienced group,” Troy coach Mark Evilsizor said. “A lot of these guys haven’t played much on this course, either, so even though it’s technically a home invitational for us, really only Ryan (Dowling) and Henry (Johnston) have a lot of experience here. Some of the other teams here have guys that have played in this invitational the last three years and have just about as much experience here as some of my kids.
“This is a team that, as they mature, have got to get used to playing at different places. In golf, you’ve got to know where to miss just as much as know where to hit. That’s something that, as the year goes on, these guys will get better at.”
Dowling shot an 84 to lead the Trojans. Owen Evilsizor continued to play well with an 86, Tag Bender added an 88, Johnston capped off the scoring with a 90 and Kellen Glover and Aaron Colvin both shot 96.
“Ryan shot 84, and that’s a good score for him. He’s starting to feel it, and he’s a putting machine. Once he gets off the tee a bit better, I think his scores will get down to low 80s or high 70s,”Evilsizor said. “Henry’s still not playing his best golf right now, but I think as the year goes on, he’ll be just fine. He’s not driving the ball really well right now.
“The rain was unexpected — none of us expected that. But you’ve got to adjust. Overall, I think we handled it all pretty well. We just need to get those fifth and sixth scores down and push each other the right direction a bit. Once that happens, I think we’re going to be much more successful.”
Piqua saw its score drop drastically from last year’s tournament, when it shot a 444. Mason Price — who shot 122 last year — led the Indians Monday with an impressive 86, Kyler Kommer shot an 89, Evan Hensler shot 97 and Drew Hinkle and Aiden Webster both shot 134.
“Today went well for us,” Piqua coach Andy Johnson said. “In the past, we’ve shot some pretty high scores here. But today, our top three played pretty well. This is a tough course, and the kids don’t see greens like this very often. I think they handled it pretty well.”
Troy Christian entered the season with an all-new lineup, with no returners from last year’s team — though last year the Eagles only had three golfers at the Troy Invitational and did not post a team score. Noah Tullis led the Eagles on the day with a 98, Zane Harris shot 107, Isaac Moore shot 125, Josh Flannery shot 169 and Jesse Barnard shot 174.
“We’re ready for some practice after playing five matches straight,” Troy Christian coach Robby Lybarger said. “Things are looking better. One boy who hasn’t been able to practice with us just got back today, and he played really, really well. And the other boys are improving, as well.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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