By BRUCE HEFFLINGER

Sports Writer

BOWLING GREEN - Kaden Sutton is headed to the state golf tournament.

The Wayne Trace junior fired a round of 79 on Thursday at the Division III districts at Stone Ridge Golf Club to qualify for the state event to be held Oct. 11-12 at Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course in Columbus.

“This is a big deal for myself and I know it is for Kaden,” noted Wayne Trace coach Chris Rosswurm. “He worked hard all year. He prepped in the summer for this kind of pressure, to be prepared for big events like this.”

Meanwhile, the Antwerp golf team fell short of a trip to state with an 11th-place finish.

“We had a rough start this morning and lost a lot of confidence on a tough course,” pointed out Antwerp head coach Scott McMichael. “Everyone starting pressing a little. It seemed like everything snowballed for us.”

That was not the case for Sutton, a district participant last year who started with a 40 on the front nine before recording a 39 on the back to tie for sixth overall and fourth among golfers not on state qualifying teams.

“Last year gave him experience understanding the course and the pressure that goes with this experience,” Rosswurm said. “The pressure is the whole thing and being able to handle that. One bad shot can’t lead to the next.”

The WT mentor was quick to point out where Sutton excelled in the districts.

“His putting and chipping,” Rosswurm said. “He didn’t hit too many greens but on the front nine he had 13 putts. His up-and-down game was tremendous.”

Sutton finished early, then came the stress of biding time while other golfers finished their rounds.

“It was a long day waiting to see if he got through,” Rosswurm admitted. “We thought he was going to be in a playoff for the longest time, but then when Seneca East got through as a team that wasn’t the case.”

Lincoln Waters of Temple Christian and Dylan Von Deylen of Tinora tied for medalist honors with a 75 while Minster’s Grant Koenig and Kalida’s Josh Recker, both members of state qualifying teams, each finished at 76. Riverdale’s Andrew Kuenzli qualified for state with a 78 with Sutton and Jake Forehand of Seneca East tied for sixth with rounds of 79. Max Leppelmeier of Pettisville, who was low man at sectionals at Eagle Rock in Defiance last week, finished with an 81 to just miss qualifying for the state meet. 

Austin Lichty, who was runner-up individually to Leppelmeier at sectionals, finished with a 90 on a 43-47 day for Antwerp while Jake Eaken had a 92, including a 50 on the opening nine. Third man Eric Thornell came in at 103, with nine-hole scores of 49 and 54.

“It was tough for us after our top three played so well at sectionals,” noted McMichael.

Kalida, which was runners-up at last week’s sectional behind Antwerp, won the district tournament with a 328. Minster was second at 333, St. Joseph’s third with a 339 and Seneca East fourth at 349 to also qualify for state. Pettisville, third at the seconals behind Antwerp and Kalida, came in fifth at districts.

Completing the field, Delphos St. John’s was sixth at 354 followed by Old Fort 357, Margaretta 360, Woodmore 364, Van Buren 373, Antwerp 374, Montpelier 375, Bluffton 377, Allen East 382, North Central 385, Fayette 395 and Buckeye Central 411. Lima Central had an incomplete score to place last in the field of 18 teams that also included golfers from 16 other schools.

Antwerp fourth man Gaige McMichael had a 92 on the day with a 45-47 while Jayvin Landers finished at 100 for the Archers with a 48-52.

“A 92 isn’t too bad for our fourth man while Jayvin wasn’t terrible, his putter just let him down,” said McMichael, who saw a big difference in the sectional course at Eagle Rock and the district course at Stone Ridge in Bowling Green. “Eagle Rock was more about getting in position while here you’ve got to hit it long. It was a true test of your golf with a lot of water and a lot of sand.”

The end of the season has McMichael already looking ahead to 2020.

“It was a good year for the kids, but a sad note to end on,” the Antwerp head coach concluded. “This was a super group. Our number one and five were seniors, so we have three returning guys.

“This was an awful big stage, hopefully we can take that experience with us. It was one of the toughest courses we’ve ever played on, but that can only make us better.”