Brookfield golfers win district title
Larry Smoot saw a sign-up sheet this time last year.
He was watching then-junior Bryce Schell play as an individual at the 2015 Division III district boys golf tournament at Tannenhauf Golf Club in Alliance. Smoot, the Brookfield High School coach, thought signing up for the Marlington Invitational in August of 2016 would be a good idea.
He knew the Warriors would have a good team this season and wanted to help his team, especially the incoming freshmen, build familiarity with the course.
Brookfield began the season dominating the field at the Marlington Invitational – winning with a 318 on the Tannenhauf course.
Thursday, at the Division III district, the Warriors held off defending district champion Columbiana for the win, 325-327. The top two teams, Brookfield and Columbiana, head to NorthStar Golf Course in Sunbury next weekend for the Division III state tournament.
The Brookfield coach admits he didn’t think things would come together this quickly.
“I couldn’t be more ecstatic,” Smoot said.
Smoot, who said he’s a conservative person, said the emotions flowed freely after the win among the team with fist bumps and merriment all around, with players and parents alike.
“It all spilled out today afterward,” Smoot said.
Brookfield isn’t the only Trumbull County representative heading to NorthStar.
John F. Kennedy sophomore Jimmy Graham carded a 73, one stroke behind medalist Jared Wilson of Columbiana. Graham and Kirtland’s Michael Schnur (77) were the two individual qualifiers. Bristol freshman Anthony Clark tied for sixth and was three strokes away from state (80). The Panthers shot 342 and placed fifth.
JFK, who came in with four straight appearances at the state tournament, ended that run Thursday, finishing nine strokes behind Columbiana with a 336. JFK tied Kirtland and won third on the score of the fifth golfer.
Graham said he posted his low score and gave a confidence boost to his team. Senior Ryan Theis came through with an 81.
“We felt that we could’ve done it,” Graham said. “It wasn’t good enough.”
The JFK sophomore thinks he good enough to compete at NorthStar.
“I feel I’m just as good as anyone down there,” he said. “I’m down there to compete. Overall, I want to have fun and enjoy my time down there.”
He’ll practice at Kennsington Golf Club in Canfield, which is similar to the links-style course at NorthStar.
Graham said he was pleased with his driver and iron play at Tannenhauf, but wants to fine tune his putting game before state.
He’ll get in some rounds with his coach, Jim St. George, and his father, Nick, at Kennsington and work on his birdie opportunities.
“I believe I would’ve been in the 60s if I would’ve hit some of those putts, but I can’t complain,” Graham said of Thursday’s round. “I was getting up and down for par.”
Brookfield freshman Conner Stevens shot 77. Freshman Justin Atkinson and Schell, now a senior, both carded 82. Junior Nate Smoot had an 84.
Larry Smoot said his team’s putting needs to improve as well. It was solid when Brookfield carded that 318 at the Marlington Invitational.
“Back then, we were on top of our game,” Smoot said of his team’s putting.
This is new territory for him and Brookfield. He said he’s appreciative of all the help he’s received from Columbiana coach Jeff Jackson and St. George. Smoot even got together with Jackson after this year’s Brookfield Invitational and scheduled a dual meet at Yankee Run in Columbiana late in the season. The two played Monday with Brookfield squeaking out a 164-165 victory on the back nine.
Smoot said the final nine holes on the blue tees was to “get it as Tannenhauf as we could get it.”
“It really helped Columbiana and made us sharper too,” Smoot said.