By Susan Jenior
The Pine Hills Division I Northeast District is one of the toughest in Ohio to earn a spot to the OHSAA state tournament in Columbus.
Two Portage County golfers were both vying for a return trip to the state dance at Pine Hills Golf Club in Hinkley on Monday: Liam Curtis of Kent Roosevelt and Max Devins of Aurora.
For Liam Curtis, it was a day of ups and downs that ended, finally, on the positive as he punched his ticket to the state tournament in the third of five individual-qualifying spots.
Curtis, a junior, fired a final 4-over-par 75 in a consistent round that included two birdies and four bogeys until his final hole, when he needed to recover from a slightly off-the-mark drive off the left of the fairway.
Curtis still scored the 18-hole round needed to make that trip down I-71 to the Ohio State University Scarlet Golf Course.
“At the end of the day, Liam did what he needed to do,” said Ben Curtis, coach of the Kent Roosevelt team. “Whether you shot a 68 today or a 75, Liam did what he needed to do to get out of districts.
“The margins are small to make it to state,” Curtis added. “There was a little more pressure on Liam to do it again, to go to state after going down last year, but he had a good season and knew what he had to do. It is a very mental game but it makes you tough. Ultimately, it’s never easy, but you are always working toward qualifying for a team, scoring well and competing against players who have done great things.
“I am so proud of Liam,” said the coach. “Now he goes to state knowing what it entails and hopefully is more comfortable and will help him be a little more mentally prepared. It is fun being at state.”
Devins, a senior, just fell short in his final season. He missed the opportunity to advance to the state tournament, but not without an incredible comeback attempt.
At 10-over-par after 10 holes, Devins maneuvered his five holes (on the front nine at Pine Hills) at 3-under-par for a final 79.
Gus Mehallis, Aurora Greenmen golf coach, offered that Max topped off his four years with a solid round of golf.
“Max was Aurora’s captain, leader and great teammate,” said Mehallis. “He was Aurora’s most consistent player, breaking 80 in almost every event we played.
“Max made first team Suburban Conference and, without his best stuff, shot a 75 in the sectional at Windmill to make it to this Pine Hills District,” Mehallis added. “Although his front nine score of 44 today put him in too big of hole to qualify for the state tournament, Max made a great comeback with three birdies and a 35 on the last nine holes.”
PINE HILLS DIVISION I DISTRICT
(At Pine Hills Golf Club, Hinkley – Par 71)
(Top-five teams and five individuals not on qualifying teams advance to D1 state tournament.)
CHAMPION: Hudson 298.
MEDALIST: Brad Chili, St. Ignatius 68.
INDIVIDUAL QUALIFIERS: Anthony Spain, Walsh Jesuit 72; Sion Park, Westlake 74; Liam Curtis, Kent Roosevelt 75; Vincent Borros, Strongsville 77; A.J. Halsne, Stow-Munroe Falls 77.
AURORA: Max Devins 79.
KENT ROOSEVELT: Liam Curtis 75.