COLUMBUS — Miami Trace High School junior Libby Aleshire concluded the two-day State golf tournament competition at the Gray course at The Ohio State University Saturday, Oct. 24.
Aleshire fared better than on Friday and moved up three places in the final standings.
On Friday, Aleshire shot a 95, placing 64th.
On Saturday, she had a score of 88, moving up to 61st out of a field of the 72 best prep golfers in Ohio.
Madison Spiess of New Albany won the State Division I title with a 71 on Friday and a 70 on Saturday. That was good enough to beat a player from Massillon Jackson and one from Rocky River Magnificat by three strokes.
New Albany won the State championship with a two-day team total of 586 (293 both days).
Placing a distant second was Mason, 41 shots back with a 627.
“It was pretty cold,” Aleshire said, speaking of the weather in Columbus Saturday. “Everyone was wearing gloves in the morning, toboggans. It was kind of windy out, which meant the ball was going to go a shorter distance. So, you had to hit longer shots.
“I definitely made a lot of long putts the second day,” Aleshire said. “Which made me have bogeys when they could have been doubles if I’d missed them. Sometimes I’d make a par putt after a couple of bad chips. I made a putt from the rough on one of the par threes for a bogey. That could have very easily been a double or triple hole.
“So, my putting definitely helped me,” Aleshire said. “I think I was just in a better mind-set (Saturday). I defintely had a lot more fun the second day. My nerves were kind of gone and I didn’t have any pressure on me the second day. After what I came off of the first day, you can only go so far to help yourself. I went up three placements the second day.
“I was having fun and laughing with my coach Todd (Wallace),” Aleshire said. “I played with different girls the second day. They were a lot more fun to play with. They were pretty laid back. Usually, I like playing with girls that talk. On the first day, the girls in my group really didn’t talk and on the second day, they did. That kind of helped me with my mood.”
What about the extreme level of competition at the Division I State tournament?
“I played with one of the New Albany kids when I was younger,” Aleshire said. “She was good back then, too. I kind of knew where they were at. I looked at past results. One of the New Albany girls that I think got sixth this year, she had won it the past two years. I realized how good the competition was up there. You see kids hitting irons and they’re just knocking it out of the park.
“We’ve seen where we need to be for next year,” Aleshire said. “We’re hoping that next year our team is going to be there, but, we have a lot of work to do. Hopefully, we’re going to go up (to Ohio State) during the summer and play a couple of rounds, at least, just so I can see it again.
“I want to thank my swing coach, Kevin Schultz, for always helping me with my swing and working out little kinks in it,” Aleshire said. “Todd, of course, for going up there and calming me down on the first day, because it was pretty rough. And then, my parents, especially (Melisa and Larry Aleshire).”
“She came out and played better (Saturday),” Miami Trace head coach Todd Wallace said. “We set some goals on some certain holes. No. 11 was a par three where she had an eight on Friday. We looked at that and said that was a four. We got her up on the green and manageable and she took a bogey on that.
“She birdied a hole on Saturday,” Wallace said. “She had some pars. She played a lot better. Friday, I think she had two pars, maybe. Saturday, she had a birdie and three pars. On Friday, the par fives were her strong holes. On Saturday, it seemed like the par fours were where she was able to manage things. A couple of the par fives got a little long on her, because it was wetter. It rained overnight. I think they got about three-quarters of an inch of rain, so, the course played even a little bit longer than what it was on Friday. Even though they did move the tees forward and shrank the yardage, it was still playing pretty long.
“When we started (Saturday) it was 43 degrees,” Wallace said. “I don’t think it ever got above 52 degrees, with some strong winds here and there.
“For any kid in the Southeast District that we’re a part of, the athletic district, to have that opportunity to be there, it was a pretty big deal,” Wallace said.
Wallace then gave a further bit of news.
“(On Sunday), Libby was named Player of the Year for the Southeast District, Division I girls golf,” Wallace said. “Alyssa Butler is First Team, All-District and Makayla Barnes is Honorable Mention.
“Overall, for us to get kids to State, from our district, it’s a task in and of itself,” Wallace said. “You’re looking at Division I and you’ve got kids from Columbus, Cleveland, Akron, Cincinnati, Toledo. One of the girls we practiced with on Thursday, pretty much all she does is play golf. We don’t have the access to simulators and golf pros and all of that.
“Libby is fortunate that over the years she’s had Kevin Schultz, whose daughter is Maddie from Westfall,” Wallace said. “He’s helped develop her swing. You get up (to State) and you realize the disadvantages we have, because of our location.
“Myself and some of the other coaches, we realize we have girls that are competitive,” Wallace said. “We have girls that want to be competitive. So, what can we do as a group to help them to get to that place where they are just as competitive as someone from Cleveland or wherever. To give them the best advantage possible. That was the learning part of it.
“I think it was fabulous that she was able to experience that,” Wallace said. “It was the first time Miami Trace has had a female qualify to the State in golf. We’re more prepared now. She and I discussed things we are going to try and implement in the off-season to get the other kids prepared and ready to make a charge at getting the whole team to State next year. It’s a big challenge. It’s a lot ahead, but, we’re going to try and do it.
“This year, we were just trying to get there,” Wallace said. “We’d never been there and didn’t know what it was. We hope to get our kids on that course. We try to play an invitational at the District course at Eaglesticks. The Scioto Valley Conference schools invited us over and we played, I think, three rounds at Pickaway, that’s our Sectional course. We’ll do the same thing with the Gray course. We look to keep this thing rolling for a couple of years.
“Libby has aspirations of playing golf in college and that’s kind of our long-term goal,” Wallace said. “She’s had a chance to see the calibre of competition that she’s going to face at that level. Those are kids you are going to see on Division I and Division II (college) teams competing every week at a very high level.
“There were 72 kids at the State tournament,” Wallace said. “Every one of those kids, being a State-qualifier, if they want to play golf in college, there’s no question, they’ll go play. A lot of these kids come from huge private schools, so, they are the best of the best.”