COLUMBUS - The Potters are in the hunt.
The East Liverpool golf team sits in third place after Day 1 of the OHSAA Division II state golf tournament being held at Ohio State University's Scarlet Course in Columbus.
Dayton Oakwood is tops among the 12 teams with a 320, followed by Kettering Archbishop Alter (337) and East Liverpool (340), which is making its first-ever appearance at the state tournament.
"Our goal coming into Day 1 was to be in the final group with the leaders and we did that," East Liverpool golf coach Ben Wright said. "Even though we didn't feel like we played as well as we could, we held things together enough to be near the top."
East Liverpool junior Blake Prince shot a team-best 78 and is only three shots off the individual title. Prince shot a 38 on the front nine and a 40 on the back nine. Eaton's Cameron Willis, an individual qualifier, is leading with a Day 1 score of 75, followed by Chesapeake's Nick Duffield and Dayton Oakwood's Tripp French, both of whom came in at 77.
"Blake is three shots out and he had three three-puts which isn't normal for him," Wright said. "So, he could go out and shoot in the mid- to low-70s and be right in the mix. He said you can't win a tournament on Friday, but you can lose it. He kept himself right near the top and that's all you can ask."
The tournament got off to a slow start with tee times being pushed back until 10 a.m. due to frosting conditions on the course.
"The conditions were OK," Wright said. "There was no rain, but the wind made a few of the holes pretty difficult. On some of the 400-yard plus holes if you were playing into the wind, it made it pretty hard."
For the Potters, after Prince was senior Alex Watson (85), freshman Isaac Davidson (86), junior Joey Cilone (91) and junior Ryian Burson (97).
"We felt like we left a few shots on the course," Wright said. "So with that being said, we feel like we should see some improvements on Saturday."
Dayton Oakwood had every member score within six shots of each other. After French's 77 were Jack Kegelmeyer (79), Andy Mayhew (82), Alex Marquis (82) and Austin Wells (83).
"Dayton is a very solid, very consistent team," Wright said. "Their bad holes were bogeys, while everyone else's bad holes were doubles and triples."
Following East Liverpool in the standings and rounding out the field were Canton Central Catholic (343), Wauseon (344), Chagrin Falls (345), St. Clairsville (352), Chesapeake (354), Pepper Pike Orange (359), Chillicothe Unioto (359), Kirtland (363) and Bryan (364).
"Our immediate goal is to move up to second place," Wright said. "We're going to go out and try to shoot as low as we can and hope Dayton falls back toward us."
Another one hour frost delay is set for today's final round and the Potters are to tee off at 1 p.m.
NOTES: East Liverpool is the second youngest team in the field with only one senior. Wauseon is the youngest with one senior, one junior, two sophomores and a freshman. ... The Scarlet Course opened for play in 1940 and has played host to 10 men's college national championships as well as several U.S. Open qualifiers. In 2006, the course underwent a major restoration project that was overseen by Jack Nicklaus. A par-71 courses, the 18 holes measure out to 7,455 yards and has a rating of 76.1.