Indian Hill golfers drive farther than expected

INDIAN HILL — Playing in a league dominated by Wyoming at 18-0, Indian Hill High School managed to come together at the sectional tournament to qualify for the district gathering at Weatherwax Oct. 3.

Coach Topher Sheldon's had full teams qualify as recently as two years ago, but wasn't sure what his 2013 swingers would accomplish.

"We've had an up-and-down season," Sheldon said. "I had no idea what to expect and the guys just stepped up and played great. We were working through some qualifying for who was going to play and it ended up working out."

Along with top Cincinnati Hills League player Will Grimmer of Mariemont and the efficient shooting Wyoming, Sheldon was glad to have a bevy of Braves in the mix.

"Wyoming's beat up on us pretty much all year," Sheldon said.

With Grimmer averaging sub-35 for Mariemont and six of Wyoming's golfers in the top 10, Indian Hill's numbers pale in comparison. Sophomore Connor Hjelm's pre-tournament average of 42.52 was nearly eight strokes behind Grimmer.

Behind Hjelm statistically were senior Patrick Amato and freshman Ben Friedberg hovering around 44.

"We have eight competitive players and as the season's gone on, five rose a little above the other three to be in our postseason line-up," Sheldon said. "We don't have a clear-cut No. 1 or a clear-cut No. 5, it was balanced top to bottom."

Indian Hill's next grouping of players were sophomore Matt Neumann, junior Michael Thorsen, junior Daniel Harder, junior Michael Folz and sophomore Peyton Marrs. Going into the district tourney, Hjelm, Amato, Thorsen, Friedberg and Neumann were Sheldon's top five.

"Some play better with less pressure on them at No. 4 or No. 5," he said. "Some play better with more pressure on them at No. 1 or No. 2. It's kind of an interesting dynamic."

Anything beyond Weatherwax for the Braves was gravy. With just one senior, these Braves have been on par to be unpredictable.

"Since the beginning of the season, I've been surprised," Sheldon said. "The most recent surprise was qualifying for districts. There are some really strong teams that are favorites like Wyoming, Oakwood, Alter and McNick. I remember being quoted at the end of August that this was going to be a rebuilding year. My goal was to get to districts."

With that goal accomplished, it's easy to have high expectations for next season. Including junior varsity, 12 of 13 players will tote their bags for the Braves a year from now.

"Hopefully this motivates them for next year," Sheldon said. "I hope we can make a run at the state tournament (in 2014). We're real excited for the next couple of years."

As for 2013, Sheldon attributes the team's success to captains Amato and Thorsen.

"They have been outstanding leaders this year in what's been in more ways than one, a challenging season," Sheldon said. "They have stepped up their games and leadership to get us where we are."

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