by Andrew Soos '22
As Nick Piesen sank the final putt of the Golf Cats 2021 season, the crowd applauded and waited in anticipation as the final scores came in. The Cats watched the poster in those last moments as the State Championship came down to Saint Ignatius and Archbishop Hoban Knights. As the final tallies were posted, the Wildcats were named the 2021 OHSAA Division I State Champions with a team score of 591. More impressively, the 591 mark set by the Golf Cats set a new OHSAA record for all-time lowest golf score at the State Tournament.
Senior Topher Reed led the way for the Golf Cats in his final time on the golf course wearing the Blue and Gold as he will be wearing the Scarlet and Gray next fall at The Ohio State University. It was only fitting that Reed would win a share of the Individual State Championship on the Scarlet Course in Columbus. Reed would shoot a 143 in the two combined days, posting a 72 and 71, becoming an Individual Co-State Champion with Lakota East’s Joe Wilson.
The Cats started the championship-winning day with a two-stroke lead coming into the second round. Before the final round, Junior Nick Piesen talked about preparing mentally with the team, “I focused on how to control my breathing. In the backswing, you don’t want to have a second guess on playing the ball,” says Piesen. “I also was just thinking positive thoughts before the round.” The cats started hot sinking birdies on the front nine with the team having this in mind.
“My message was consistent with what we started with how grateful of an opportunity to be where we are at in Columbus,” says Head Golf Coach PJ Myers ’99. “Our guys had a belief in themselves in what they were doing on the course.”
Entering the back nine, it looked like the cats nearly had the title locked up. As they made the turn, a seven-stroke lead separated them from the admirable Hoban Knights. As the round came to a close, that quickly disappeared as bogeys plagued the Cats. Due to missed putts on the greens, the lead was cut to a single swing of the club, entering the last few holes.
“We entered the day not paying attention to the scores and controlling what we can,” explains Myers. “I had a small peak at the leaderboard after hole eight and tried to block it out; I didn’t even tell the kids.”
The Golf Cats kept to their same philosophy and did what they do best, keeping calm and collect and winning the mental game out on the course.
The Cats finished strong and even in a tie, Julian Dugan, who was the fifth man on the team, would have beaten Hoban’s fifth man to win the gold. As the scores became finalized, the Golf Cats realized they had just won the program’s first State Championship in 19 years.
“We started how we finished, in a circle with a prayer of gratefulness for the opportunity and for those alumni from the past who have helped shape the program,” Myers says. “After the prayers, emotions poured out, a lot of tears of joy because of the hard work that was given throughout the season.”
With Reed’s 143 score, he would become an individual State Champion as he would put a bow on his illustrious high school career. “I’m going to miss him so much, we will never be able to replace Topher Reed,” explains Myers. “This was his goal all along, to walk out of this tournament with a State Championship and to do it where he will be going to college; it was meant to be.”
The celebration continued for the Golf Cats as they brought home the State Championship trophy to Saint Ignatius’ Homecoming on Saturday night. When the student-athletes were told that Homecoming was moved from September to October 23, the team had a goal to bring the trophy to the Homecoming dance. They did just that to cap a day the Golf Cats will never forget.
As the team stood on the 18th green trophy and flag in hand, they closed the seasons with two words that every team wants to be called: State Champions. This State Title is the third in the program’s history and the first State Championship since 2002. For Myers, this is his first State Championship as the Head Golf Coach.
The final tally for the Golf Cats:
- Topher Reed 72/71 - 143
- Nick Piesen 74/73 - 147
- Connor Malicki 73/77 - 150
- Bradley Chill 74/77 - 151
- Julian Dugan 76/78 - 154
Congratulations to Topher Reed, Nick Piesen, Michael Van Etten, Michael O'Leary, Bradley Chill, Connor Malicki, Julian Dugan, MJ Myers, John Thompson and Connor Keefe. Forever known as State Champions.
With the conclusion of the 2021 Golf season, coach Myers wants to extend his thanks to the Saint Ignatius community that made this season possible. The following is a message from coach Myers:
There are so many alumni to thank and we have a profound sense of gratitude to the alumni who have helped build this program. With their involvement with our program, we can be successful.
A thank you to the Assistant coaches with Tom Beach, Bob Koch ’64 and Nick Restifo Hon. ’19, for their hard work this season, the program wouldn’t be where it is without them.
The senior class of Topher Reed, Michael Van Etten, Connor Keefe, MJ Myers, and Domenic Pilla mean so much to the program and kept the younger guys level-headed and focused.
I want to extend a thank you to Rory Fitzpatrick ’88 and the whole Athletic Department for all of their help this season in accomodating us.
Colleen Albeer, Tom Arth ’99, Peter Koch ’01, Michael McCaffrey ’18, Andrew Martin ’21 and Tim Kremer for being in attendance, cheering us on at the State Tournament.
To coach Brian Becker '77 for his mentorship to the kids. Especially a thank you to all of our competitors, especially Archbishop Hoban. Their play elevated the level of golf in Ohio and they're a massive part of us growing as well as golfers and competitors.
Finally, thank you to Avon Oaks Country Club and staff for hosting us all year long.