Depth turns out to be key for Altoona at District 6 event
By Michael Boytim
TYRONE — When Altoona’s Daniel Batrus walked off the 18th green Thursday at the District 6 Class 3A high school boys golf sectionals, all of the shots that came up an inch short or putts that lipped out were running through his head.
Thanks to live scoring, Batrus knew the cut for districts of the top 10 players plus ties was at 7-over par, and Batrus finished with a 9-over 81.
The Mountain Lion junior walked his golf bag to the parking lot at Sinking Valley Country Club and began walking back to the clubhouse to get some food with his teammates when he saw some good news. The cut line had changed.
“When it was 7-over, I thought, ‘shoot I just missed it,'” Batrus said. “There were a lot of holes where I could have shaved off a couple strokes. There were a few holes like that, but then it changed to 9-over, and suddenly I felt really happy about how I played. I hope I can get into the 70s at districts.”
Batrus will join teammate Trent Meyers, who finished just one stroke back of sectional champion Max Wager of State College with a 4-over par 76, in the Class 3A individual competition for the District 6 title Tuesday at Scotch Valley Country Club, and his team will be in the mix as well.
Altoona finished with a team score of 323 to earn one of the two spots in the district final. State College won the sectional with a score of 314. The Mountain Lions bested Central Mountain, Bellefonte, Mifflin County and Hollidaysburg for the second spot thanks to its depth.
“That’s the strength of our team,” Altoona coach Erick Kozak said. “We have seven solid golfers, and against most teams, our top five will compete really well. Jordan Lestochi started off really well and fell off a little bit at the end and didn’t make it individually, but for him to throw a score in of 83 under pressure helped our team tremendously. Landon Baker is just a sophomore, and he shot an 83 as well to help us, and even Sean Eakins overcame being sick recently to shoot an 84.”
In addition to Wager’s 75, State College got a 78 from two-time defending District 6 Class 3A individual champion John Olsen, a 79 from Luke Janac and an 82 from Joey Sabol. Despite the Little Lions’ win Thursday, Kozak said Altoona has a shot if it plays well Tuesday.
“It was really a great effort, and I’m really proud of these guys,” Kozak said. “They have put a lot of hard work in. It’s a focus throughout the season on getting the team through to districts, and then you never know. We could pull off a win there too if we play well.”
Meyers is certainly a threat to win the indvidual title.
“I can’t say enough about Trent Meyers,” Kozak said. “He’s been really solid for us all year. He’s like the golf equivalent of a gym rat. He’s really dedicated himself to playing and getting better. He’s improved so much. He’s got as good of a chance as anybody. He hits it far, he has a great putting stroke, he hits his irons well and he’s just a solid player. He’s played a lot, and he’s been in a lot of tournaments. I’m hoping all of that comes together and he’s able to represent us well at districts.”
The junior felt his score Thursday could have been even better.
“I was hitting my wedges close,” Meyers said. “I didn’t make as many of my putts as I should have, but I had a good round and made a lot of pars. I’m feeling good, and I’m hoping I can go low at districts.”
Hollidaysburg also got a golfer through to districts as Wes Eberhart advanced, along with Batrus, right on the cut line with an 81.
“I was sort of nervous, but I feel like I’m a clutch player,” Eberhart said. “I looked at my score with four holes to play and saw that I was pretty close to the other guys. I had three pars, but then I doubled the last hole (No. 13, an uphill par 4 with woods behind the green). My range finder died, and I hit my approach shot over the green, and it was unplayable, so I was happy to make it.”
Scotch Valley is Eberhart’s home course.
“My goals for districts are to get a medal and then just focus on next year,” Eberhart said. “I know that course, and I have been playing it all summer. It’s definitely an advantage.”
Altoona is returning to districts as a team after missing out the last couple years.
“Last year we missed it, and the year before that we also missed going to districts as a team,” Batrus said. “This year’s team making districts is really exciting, and hopefully we play our best.”
1, State College (SC) 314; 2, Altoona (A) 323; 3, Central Mountain (CM) 332; 4, Bellefonte (B) 343; 5, Mifflin County (MC) 351; 6, Hollidaysburg (H) 357.
INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (TOP 10 & TIES MAKE DISTRICTS)
1, Wager, SC, 75; T-2, Meyers, A, 76; T-2, Redmond, CM, 76; 4, Olsen, SC, 78; T-5, Corson, SC, 79; T-5, Bloom, B, 79; T-5, Janac, SC, 79; 8, Hamilton, B, 80; T-9, Batrus, A, 81; T-9, Eberhart, H, 81; T-9, Corman, B, 81; T-12, Mona, SC, 82; T-12, Wise, MC, 82; T-12, Sabol, SC, 82; T-16, Lestochi, A, 83; T-16, Flynn, H, 83; T-16, Baker, A, 83; 19, Eakins, A, 84; 20, Hay, SC, 85; T-21, Chilson, MC, 86; T-21, Eversole, MC, 86; T-23, Newlen, CM, 87; T-23, Hite, A, 87; T-23, Blackwell, CM, 87; T-26, Bubb, MC, 89; T-26, Smithwick, SC, 89; T-26, Fravel, CM, 89; 29, Stringfellow, MC, 90; 30, Neff, H, 91; 31, Miller, H, 92; T-32, Schnell, MC, 93; T-32, Heverly, CM, 93; T-32, Kline, MC, 93; T-32, Clapper, H, 93; 36, Walker, CM, 94; 37, Gallagher, H, 95; 38, Hockey, H, 96; 39, Young, A, 100; 40, Ferguson, MC, 101; 41, Henry, B, 103; 42, Stock, B, 105.