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Brooke’s Ryan Bilby wins 3rd-straight OVAC golf title

Cody Tomer DIGGING OUT — Brooke’s Ryan Bilby shoots from the bunker during the OVAC golf tournament on Thursday. Bilby won his third straight OVAC title with a 65. (Photo by Cody Tomer)

WHEELING — Brooke coach Ron Ujcich Jr. said he wanted two things from senior star Ryan Bilby at the beginning of the season. Bilby delivered both on Thursday, as he secured his third straight OVAC 5A championship at Oglebay’s Jones Course.

“That was one of the most incredible rounds I’ve ever seen,” Ujcich said. “We were coming back from Pinehurst before the season started, and I asked him for a 65 and I wanted a bogey-free round. He hasn’t done either in four years, and he did it all in one day. It was just incredible to watch and to be a part of. It was his day to shine, and he did.”

Bilby finished 6-under par to card of 65 to earn medalist honors.

In practice Wednesday, Bilby supplied a preview of what was to come, as he drained a hole-in-one on the Par-3 15 hole at Jones. Thursday was just as special for him.

“I just wasn’t taking anything for granted,” Bilby said. “(Thursday) could have been the last round of high school golf I play, and I just made the most of it. I was relaxed and I’ve been practicing. School is online, so I can go to school for a couple hours in the morning and go play.”

On his way to his third straight title, Bilby began his day 4-under through the first five holes with birdies on the third and fourth holes and an eagle on 5. He added birdies on 14 and 18 to finish the day.

“This is awesome. Three in a row means a lot,” Bilby said. “I got off to a hot start, made eight pars in a row, chipped in for par once (11th hole) and made two birdies in the last five coming in. It was just one of those days where everything was going the right way.”

The Wheeling Park golf team also showcased its skill, picking up its third OVAC 5A team title in the last four years.

The Patriots returned to glory by shooting a 314 to edge out defending champion Dover (336), led by sophomore standout Gavin Goodrich, who carded a 76 to earn All-OVAC honors.

Seniors Noah Seivertson and James Salvatori shot 78 and 83, respectively, while Owen Leary and freshman Campbell Koegler turned in scores of 79 and 81, respectively.

Goodrich’s positive personality on the course helped him birdie holes 4, 11 and 18 on his way to a strong finish.

Also shooting their way to All-OVAC honors were runner-up Shad Kenily (74) of New Philadelphia, Doverás Reese Klar (75) and Warren Localás Seth Davis (76).

3A

All OVAC championships are cherished at the Linsly School.

The golf crown the Cadets captured Thursday afternoon under ideal conditions at Oglebay Park’s Crispin Course always will rank extremely high on the list of the 18 the school now owns.

And, that’s for a myriad of reasons, too.

Obviously, Linsly isn’t eligible for West Virginia postseason play, making the conference tournament the biggest goal. Additionally, the Cadets played five seniors, all of whom had been part of three consecutive runner-up finishes.

If that wasn’t enough, throw in the fact that a little less than a week ago there was a huge question mark as if Linsly could even compete because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the state of West Virginia’s color-coded map, which had Ohio County listed as orange Saturday morning.

The county dipped back to yellow by Saturday afternoon, the Cadets were eligible and didn’t let the opportunity pass by. Firing an impressive score of 295, Linsly captured its first conference title on the links since 2014.

“I am really happy for our seniors,” Cadets head coach Mark Landini said. “We know what it feels like to finish second and we also knew Fort Frye and Barnesville were tough. We knew we’d have to play our best (to win).”

Linsly played probably as close to its best as it could. The Cadets’ score was 24 shots better than Fort Frye and 27 fewer than two-time defending champion Barnesville.

That sort of score was fueled by three players, Ryan Dembiczak, Dylan Dunlevy and Aidan Grubler, who earned a spot on the All-OVAC squad that includes the top five overall players.

Dembiczak blitzed the Crispin course. He set the tone for the round immediately off the first tee by making a birdie and really never looked back, finishing with a round of 2-under, 69.

Dembiczak made the turn at 3-under 33 and played a bit more conservatively on the back side where he finished

Dunlevy finished with a 74 and Grubler was a shot back. The fourth Cadet score to be counted was Geno Bisbocci’s solid effort of 77.

“I am so happy that these kids get to go out as champions,” Landini said, fighting back emotion. “(Last Saturday) we woke up in the morning thinking we weren’t even going to get a chance to compete for (the OVAC). It just means a lot and having been through that really adds to it. All four of our guys are capable of shooting well and they brought it (Thursday).”

Barnesville junior Carter Wells finished as the runner-up medalist, signing for a round of even-par, 71.

The other spot on the All-OVAC squad went to Monroe Central freshman Zander Potts, who posted a 5-over, 76, while playing in the fourth position.

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