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Aurora -- It wasn't supposed to end this soon. The talented Aurora High boys golf squad failed to qualify for the district tournament as a team out of the Division I sectional tournament last week at Windmill Lakes in Ravenna.
A strong field of 17 teams competed. The top four teams qualified for the Pine Hills Division I district, but Aurora just missed out, placing fifth overall to Kent Roosevelt by just 4 strokes.
"There was much disappointment about not qualifying, and it was also very unexpected," said Aurora head coach Gus Mehallis.
After all, AHS placed eighth in Ohio in 2012. The Greenmen returned a slew of talent, but it just wasn't meant to be.
Senior Conor O'Callaghan did qualify for the Oct. 9 district in Hinckley as an individual. He won a two-hole playoff to secure the fouth individual spot. He shot 76 and edged Poland Seminary's Jason McQuown (76) for the final spot.
Ian Holt of Stow-Mun-roe Falls fired a 70 to snag the top individual berth, while the other district qualifiers were Canfield's Dom Carano (72) and Nordonia's Brett Brown (75).
In the playoff against McQuown, O'Callaghan hit a 180-yard 5-iron on the par 3 second hole to about 10 feet from the hole. McQuown missed the green and did not get it up and down, as O'Callaghan putted for the win in front of a large crowd.
"On the bright side, Conor has probably been the most consistent player for us all year," said Mehallis. "His 76 was a solid round. His performance in the playoff was really impressive and he did it in front of a fairly large crowd of spectators.
"Another good round there at Pine Hills (district) could advance him to the state tournament," added the coach.
With rounds of 38 on both the front and back nine at Windmill Lakes, O'Callaghan showed great consistency. He fired a 2 on the eighth hole and posted 3s on the 12th and 15th holes.
Junior Chris Sloe also flirted with an individual berth as he carded a 78 (40-38) at the sectional.
Teamwise, Walsh Jesuit won with 294, followed by Twinsburg (314), Hudson (315), and Kent (316). AHS was at 320, besting strong clubs like Canfield (321), Kenston (328) and Stow (336).
"The score that Walsh shot was fantastic and not many teams are able to match that," said Mehallis. "The other three scores (314, 315 and 316) that qualified were about where I figured them to be.
"I expected my guys to be around 310 with hopes of being a little better. I never imagined we would post a 320. We have been a pretty consistent team all year and it just wasn't our day."
Sloe had a strong back nine and had his moments to place 16th overall. Seniors Alex Avalon and Sam Nowak -- returnees and athletes who played in the 2012 state tournament -- had tough showings at the sectional.
Avalon (82) had a strong front nine with a 38, including a strong three on the first hole. Tommy Riedy, another senior, carded an 84 (44-40) and was followed by Nowak, who had an 88.
"This was Windmill Lakes' first time hosting a Division I sectional and we were very happy to host the event," said Michael Maxwell, the tournament manager and head golf pro at the course.
Mehallis can attest that this year's sectional was probably one of the deepest and strongest in Northeast Ohio.