The John F. Kennedy Eagles shot 345 and are ninth after the first day of the Division III state golf tournament at North Star Golf Resort in Sunbury.
Kennedy didn't meet its goal for a team score of 320, but it's in position to make a possible move today up the leaderboard. Ashland Crestview is leading the tournament with a 323.
"We are only 10 shots back of fifth place," Kennedy coach Jim St. George said. "It's not out of the reality to finish fifth or sixth if we play well on Saturday.
"They golfed with the team that's in first and third place, so the kids saw what they had to do. It's a very good test to golf with these teams and on this course."
St. George said his team shot well in difficult conditions.
"It was a very tough course, and it was cold, windy conditions, but everyone is playing in them," he said. "This is the pinnacle of the high school tournament. There are no excuses from our team. But out of 72 players, I only think nine players broke 80, so for our guys to be right there is a good thing."
James LaPolla leads the Eagles with an 83, while Ryan Fowler shot an 84, Billy Phillips had an 86 and Stephen Macali shot 92. Daniel LaPolla is the fifth member of the team with a 96.
Fowler and Daniel LaPolla had big turnarounds from their front and back nines. Fowler shot a 46 then a 38. For Daniel, he shot a 52, then came back with a 44.
"The conditions were rainy and cold, but everyone has to play in these conditions," St. George said. "Daniel (LaPolla) and Ryan (Fowler) bounced back a lot on their second nine today, so hopefully that builds their confidence to bounce back tomorrow. We're just trying to get in to the middle of the groups."
The Eagles dominated on their way to state, winning both their sectional and district tournaments. St. George said that was the real pressure on the team and competing at state should just be a formality.
"I think there is way less pressure at the state tournament then there is at districts," he said. "State is the frosting on the cake. It's really fun, but the pressure was getting out of districts. There were only two teams that could have got out of districts and we did that."
While Kennedy didn't play as well as hoped on Friday, St. George said the Eagles have a good chance to turn things around today.
"We're in a 10-round boxing match," he said. "I told the kids, we've been knocked out in the first five rounds, but we can get up off the mat and finish strong with our heads held high."
The team tees off at 9 a.m. today for the final round.