Engle begins quest for repeat

Only 15 boys in Ohio golf history have won two state individual championships in a row. Shawnee coach Steve Tincher was flipping through the record book recently, wondering about his star senior Clark Engle’s chances to join that exclusive list, and noticed a few familiar names.

“If you win state two times, you get in the book with Jack Nicklaus and Ben Curtis,” Tincher said. “They weren’t bad golfers.”

Engle won the Division II championship last fall by shooting 79-75 — 154 on a windy weekend at the NorthStar Golf Club in Sunbury, north of Columbus. He beat Canton Central Catholic senior Logan Lagodich by two shots.

The quest to repeat begins today as the boys and girls golf season gets underway.

Engle has high hopes for himself and his team. The Braves would like to end the four-year run of Kenton Ridge in the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division.

The Cougars are the defending Division II state champions, but graduated their top three golfers. Tecumseh will also be a contender in the division.

Shawnee also returns Evan Lyons, an all-conference performer last season, and Hunter Johnson.

“I feel with this group of guys, if they work hard, we can be better than last year,” Engle said. “Guys are playing better than I expected. They’ve been practicing over the summer. I think we have a shot to be good.”

Shawnee won the title in the three years before Kenton Ridge’s streak began.

“It would be nice for Clark to win a conference title before he graduates,” Tincher said. “You don’t want to go down as the best golfer in Shawnee history and not win a conference title.”

Engle, the News-Sun All-Area Player of the Year the last two years, had a 36.1 stroke average last season. He said he’s driving longer and has improved his mental game in the past year.

Engle has played well this summer, finishing second in the Ohio Junior Championship and the Springfield City Amateur. He often played well despite the added pressure of having Division I college coaches following him around. He expects to make his college decision soon.

“I think pressure is something he handles well,” Tincher said. “Sometimes he thrives on having added pressure.”

Engle knows there’s no guarantee he’ll even get back to state. Anything can happen at the postseason tournaments. One bad hole can run a golfer at the one-day district tournament.

“I’m probably going to feel some pressure at the district tournament,” Engle said. “It’s just hard to get to state.”

“To me, that’s a tougher day,” Tincher said, “because it’s just one day, 18 holes. We’d like to think if we improve those last spots we’d have a chance to get out as a team and take some pressure off him. But if he gets back to state, I like his chances.”

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