WHEELING - The man at the top changed, but everything else stayed the same for Wheeling Park on Wednesday, as the Patriots claimed their fifth consecutive Ohio Valley Athletic Conference golf championship at Oglebay's Robert Trent Jones Course, the last two in Class 5-A.
Cole Hand, Park's No. 2 player -and likely a No. 1 at any other school - was buoyed by an eagle on hole 5 and was the only player in the nine-team field to break par as he shot a 69 and led the Patriots to a 302, edging second-place University (314) by 12 strokes.
Rounding out the field was third-place Parkersburg South (330), Morgantown (339), Brooke (345), Cambridge (363), Indian Creek (420), and John Marshall 489.
ADMIRING HIS SHOT — Brooke’s Austin Schambach watches his drive off the tee at the OVAC Class 5A Golf Championships Thursday at Oglebay’s Robert Trent Jones Course.
-- Jim Elliott
Hand's day ended a two-year medalist run for teammate Thadd Obecny II, who shot 72 and made the all-tournament team along with University's Trent McPhearson (73) and Eric Wirth (74), Hand, and Parkersburg South's Alex Schreckengost (76).
For Hand, who came in under-par on the Jones Course for the first time in his prep career, it was a good day for the short game.
On No. 5, a 511-yard Par 5, Hand's drive wasn't as far right as he normally hits it, but he drilled a 3-wood to within 30 yards, just in front of the bunker.
OVAC 5A Golf Championships
Wheeling Park 302, University 314, Parkersburg South 330, Morgantown 339, Brooke 345, Cambridge 363, Edison 376, Indian Creek 420; John Marshall 489
W - C.Hand 69 (medalist), Obecney II 72, Wojcik 83, Bryan78; U - McPhearson 73, Wirth74, Wheeler 82, Voithofer 85; P - Schreckengost 76, Shears 87, McCutheon77, Dailey 90; M - Woods 79, Hanson 87, Harper 81 Hames 92; B - Schambach88; Lojszyk 77; Dodd 90; Kenny 90; C - Wilkinson 81, Hitzel 96, Standiford 94, Parsons 92; E - Ryan 92, Marsh 90, Jones 98, Collins 96; I - McIntosh 99, Dailey 111, Freshwater 110, Yeater 100; J - Cochran 198, Griffith 123, Richards 126, Ingram 129.
Hand, Obecny (Wheeling Park), McPhearson, Wirth (University), Schreckengost (Parkersburg South)
From there, ''I chipped it and ran up there and watched it just trickle in right in front of the cup, so that was pretty sweet,'' Hand said.
He had birdie putts set up inside of 10 feet on holes 12-14, but ''I made one of them - wish I could get the other two back,'' he said.
He gave a pair back on 16 and 18, the product of pressure he put on himself after last year's OVAC tourney, when he had a one-stroke lead on Obecny on 17 and coughed it up.
''Cole got a little bit of revenge,'' Wheeling Park coach Don Headley said. ''Cole brought the ship home right side up, and we're in good shape.''
Hand's drive was left on both holes, something he says always happen when the nerves hit, but had a big enough lead to absorb a pair of bogeys this time.
''Having Thadd on my team, it's always a competition,'' Hand said. ''Even if we're playing two teams we might beat by 50, it's always a competition because I always just want to beat him. Even if we're coming out here playing nine holes, I always try real hard because I always want to beat him. And it doesn't happen very often. (Wednesday's round) feels good.
''I think we make each other better players. There's not a whole lot of players around here who can challenge him. Kicking him in the butt every once in a while helps him out.''
Rounding out Wheeling Park's scorers were Dylan Wojcik's 83 and Hunter Bryan's 78.
''Our freshmen really played well,'' Headley said.
Brooke, which finished fourth, was led by Logan Lojszyk's 77. Cambridge's top score came from Trevor Wilkinson (81). Indian Creek's best score was Ian McIntosh's 99, and John Marshall's leader was Collin Griffith's 123.