By Brad Morris
History isn’t written overnight.
It is only achieved by building a foundation one brick at a time, often through countless hours of hard work in the hot sun that draws little fanfare.
And that’s certainly the case for the Circleville girls golf team and its methodical rise that reached a new height on Tuesday with the Tigers winning the Mid-State League Buckeye Division championship for the first time in program history.
“It’s definitely been a process to get our program to be able to compete at a championship level,” Circleville coach Eric Evans said. “A lot of credit goes to our past players and certainly this group of young ladies we have currently.”
The Tigers shot a round of 365 at Westchester Golf Club to edge Pickaway County rival Teays Valley by two strokes and claim the outright league championship.
Circleville finished league play with an overall record of 19-1, with Teays Valley taking second at 17-3.
“It means the world to us,” said Circleville junior Elaina Seeley about winning the program’s first league championship. “We are so thankful that we could showcase all the amazing talent and growth that we have as a team.
“We love that we could represent Circleville in a positive way and show that we had what it took to be league champions this year.”
Elaina Seeley turned in a scorecard of 77 to lead the Tigers, Isabelle Perini shot 85, Izzy Seeley tallied 96 and Claire Barthelmas finished with 107.
“(Tuesday’s) round played out like so many of our rounds this season,” Evans noted. “We got off to a bit of a slow start, held steady in the middle of the round and then closed extremely strong across the board.
“That’s the thing I love most about this group, they continue to grind and get everything they can out of their rounds, regardless of how things start off.”
And the grinder at the top of Evans’ lineup card is Elaina Seeley, who earned medalist honors eight times heading into Tuesday’s postseason match and once again led the Tigers as their No. 1 player.
“I was confident going in and after the round I was pleased with the outcome,” she said. “I always hope that I can go out and post a good number that will help put my team in a good position.”
It’s been a methodical rise for the Tigers, who first qualified for district tournament play in 2016 and advanced again in the postseason last year, where they finished fourth in district play. The Tigers shot their 18-hole program record (363) last season and their nine-hole record (164) this year.
Evans credited the work ethic of his players, both past and present, for building the foundation that led to the Tigers making history on Tuesday in Canal Winchester.
“The biggest thing is getting the girls to buy into the idea of golf being a year-round sport when it comes to working on your game and not just a few months in the summer and fall,” he said. “This group has really bought into that idea, working together as a group going back to the last part of February.”
Evans also complimented the leadership provided by seniors Lexy Sharp and Barthelmas.
“Our two seniors, Claire and Lexy, have been tremendous leaders for our team and great representatives of our program on and off the course,” he said. “They are both very positive individuals, work hard to encourage their teammates and are as reliable as anyone can be.”
Evans, who is in his ninth season coaching the Tigers, is the architect behind the rise of the program. Elaina Seeley discussed the fun and supportive culture that Evans has created and credited for helping lead to the Tigers’ success.
“There’s no words to describe how great coach Evans has been,” she said. “No matter what, he encourages us and helps us to achieve our goals. “No matter the outcome he always just wants us to have fun with what we do.
“He is the heart and soul of this team, and we wouldn’t be where we are without him. We all have great love for him and can’t wait to see what he does for the team in the future.”
Teays Valley senior Audrey Keplar was the postseason tournament medalist, shooting a 32 on the front nine and 36 on the back to finish with a round of 68.
Keplar eagled her first league hole of the season and capped the final league hole of her prep career with another eagle.
Adison Abele followed with an 85, Brooklynn Lowry shot 100 and Makinna Pinion turned in a 114.
Logan Elm was also in action on the day and shot 471. Addie Lester tallied 104, McKenna Pack had 108, Mallory Stevens shot 113 and Karlie Gray turned in a scorecard of 146.
Circleville and Logan Elm travel to Jaycees Golf Club outside of Chillicothe on Sept. 26 for a sectional tournament. Teays Valley opens sectional play on Oct. 4 at Blacklick Woods Golf Club.
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