TROY — As Troy boys golf coach Mark Evilsizor addressed the competitors after Monday’s Troy Invitational, he closed with a joke that rang all too true.
“We’re going to be seeing each other a lot this year,” he said.
This year’s Troy Invitational, which usually welcomes a host of teams from all around the greater Dayton area, was an all-Miami Valley League seven-team affair on Monday, with the league having voted two weeks ago to play a league-only schedule in all sports this fall due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And with the year-end MVL tournament also being stricken from the schedule, Monday’s tournament proved to be an impromptu replacement, with Tippecanoe winning with a 313.
Greenville took second with 351, followed by host Troy in third with 357. Xenia was fourth (377), Butler fifth (382), Sidney sixth (388) and Piqua seventh (400).
The Red Devils, who won the MVL title last year, seem poised to defend their crown this year in spite of all of the external factors.
“They’ve put a lot of work in over the summer, and they do a good job,” Tippecanoe coach Aaron Jackson said. “They just get out there and play solid golf, and they make good decisions. When they get in trouble, they usually don’t compound their mistakes. They get out of it, take their bogey and move on to the next one. They just do a good job.”
Senior Nathan Gagnon led the way for Tippecanoe, shooting an even-par 70 and finishing first individually on the day. Braydon Bottles had the second-best individual score with a 77, Matt Salmon was in a three-way tie for fourth with an 82 and Colin Maalouf capped off the scoring with an 84. Joey Pleiman added an 87 and Will Riehle shot 109.
“The school record is 300, and that’s a goal these guys have,” Jackson said. “That’s a good goal for them to have. I mean, 13 strokes off on a course like this? This is a tough course. It played hard and long today, and the kids did a good job.”
Troy knows how tough it will be to catch Tippecanoe this season — but it’s not giving up after just two tournaments.
“Tipp’s loaded. They’ve got a good group. They’ve got three guys that can flat out go low, and if their four-man can play like this, obviously they’ve got a chance to go pretty far,” Evilsizor said. “We’ll just keep plugging away. Obviously, we’re pretty close with Greenville, and I think we’re going to have some battles this year. Who knows? Maybe one of us gets Tipp on a bad day, three of us end up with one loss — you never know what’ll happen. We’ve still got to play all of the matches.”
Henry Johnston led the Trojans with an 82, Tag Bender shot 91, Ryan Dowling shot and Owen Evilsizor both shot 92s, Bryce Massingill added a 94 and Luke Huber shot 118.
“Pretty solid round for Henry,” Evilsizor said. “He let a couple of holes get away from him, but other than that I thought he played pretty well. Ryan, that’s a score that, he can play better than that and he knows it. I was proud of Owen. He struggled through the first 13 holes, then he was 1-over on the last five holes. Tag’s had a rough time of it lately, but he shot 91 today and that’s a good sign.
“We’re trending in the right direction. We’ve got to be ready for Thursday and our first official MVL match.”
For Piqua, Decker Jackson led the way with an 89 and Evan Hensler shot a 91. Richard Price added a 106, Drew Hinkle shot 114 and Sabastian Karabinis shot 125.
“We’re getting our legs back underneath us and trying to find some consistency,” Piqua coach Andy Johnson said. “My top two guys are going to lead us this year. We’ve got some younger guys that are still developing and still learning, and they’ll get there.”
Troy hosts Butler Tuesday before hosting Greenville for its first official MVL match of the season on Thursday, with both matches at Miami Shores Golf Course. Tippecanoe and Piqua are both next in action on Wednesday, with the Red Devils traveling to Xenia and the Indians traveling to Butler.
As for Monday, Evilsizor was just happy to be able to play one more 18-hole tournament — the Trojans don’t have another schedule until the sectional tournament. And, of course, he was happy that Troy Country Club was again able to host the yearly invitational.
“We were definitely glad to be able to have the tournament this year,” Evilsizor said. “Our hole sponsors this year were: Independent Auto Sales, Koverman Staley Dickerson Insurance, Primary Eyecare, Weigandt Development LTD, Miami Acres Animal Hospital, Rank Chiropractor, Edward Jones, Senior Parents, Denlinger and Sons Builders LTD, Stolz Motors, Mercer Group, Troy Fish and Game and the Troy Country Club. Their support for our golf program during these difficult times is most generous and much appreciated.”