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Local golfers find home at YSU

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes YSU senior Bryan Kordupel (Boardman) reacts after teeing off Tuesday afternoon. Kordupel finished tied for second at the Tom Tontimonia Invitational in Westlake, Ohio. with a two round score of 140.

WESTLAKE — The Youngstown State men’s golf team has been moving along during their fall slate, which is a return to normalcy after last season was nixed by the Horizon League.

With the COVID-19 pandemic allowing athletes in most leagues to receive an extra year of eligibility, fifth-year senior Ken Keller has taken full advantage of his bonus season at Youngstown State. After all, it’s somewhat difficult to walk away from a sport you’ve been playing competitively for 20 years

“I just keep reminding myself that I shouldn’t even be here, and a couple of my teammates shouldn’t be here, we should be graduated,” Keller, a Cardinal Mooney grad, said. “It’s surreal, but I’m looking at it as a gift instead of a farewell.”

With his undergrad in marketing in tow, Keller has used the extra time to earn his MBA in leadership, a class set that’ll enhance his undergraduate degree.

Plus being able to play an extra year of golf isn’t a bad deal either, especially for a golfer that has only missed one tournament during his entire stay at YSU.

“I tried pretty much every sport and golf was the one I fell in love with, and I had the most talent in, so I just stuck with it and made something happen out of it,” Keller said. “From my perspective, I just enjoyed it, it was a hobby from my parents perspective, it was a sport where I wouldn’t get hurt, but I think golf is the toughest sport.

“You’re tested individually, and it could just be so mentally grueling. You could have a great stretch of golf, then you could have a stretch of golf where you’re really struggling mentally, and down in the gutter, so that’s why that golf is interesting.”

There’s plenty of local faces under the lead of Coach Tony Joy at Youngstown State, including Cade Kreps (Boardman), Brian Terlesky (Boardman), Cole Christman (Boardman), Derek Miller (Garfield), Dean Austalosh (Campbell), Conner Stevens (Brookfield), and Jacob Sylak (Mineral Ridge).

Another Boardman grad is senior Bryan Kordupel, who finished tied for second individually with a score of 140 in two rounds at the Tom Tontimonia Invitational which was held at Lakewood Country Club in Westlake, Ohio on Monday and Tuesday.

Every Horizon League team minus Wright State made an appearance and YSU finished fifth overall out of 13 teams.

“It’s a lot different than just practicing like we did last fall, it kinda gives you a little more to play for, because you definitely want to beat all these guys being in your conference,” Kordupel said. “It’s just being out on the course, good weather, with your buddies, playing for something, it’s just a lot of fun.”

Whereas Keller has been playing since the age of four, Kordupel picked up the sport as a freshman at Boardman while playing baseball in the Spring.

Despite the difference in playing time over their lives, both have made themselves mainstays in the Penguins lineup.

“Honestly, my dad used to play a lot, and it was something I could do with him, and going into high school, I just started to like it more, I met some people that played golf, and I just kinda did it every day,” Kordupel said. “Thought it was a lot of fun, I like working at it. I liked the aspect of no matter how good you get, you can always get better.

“Everyone says the (baseball and golf) swings are way different, but there’s an art to both, and I enjoyed figuring out both.”

Joy enters his 38th season at the helm with the Penguins, a position he’s held since the fall of 1983.

Only being able to take five out of eleven golfers means that lineup choices have to be made, something the fall season allows coaches to figure out, giving different players some extra playing time.

The spring season always creeps on you fast though.

“It always does, you never know how the kids are going to come out after the winter, you’re hitting balls indoors, and off mats in the WATTS and so forth, you really don’t know until you see the ball fly in the air outdoors,” Joy said. “The kids are playing this fall to see who’s going to travel come the end of February because there isn’t any qualifying. I’ll use the scores from this fall to see who’s traveling.

“Once that lineup gets set in the spring, it’s hard to change just because of the weather, you’re not outdoors as much as you’d like to be.”

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