Zach Burton ready to take next step for Hilliard Davidson Wildcats

Hilliard Davidson senior Zach Burton won numerous accolades in his first three seasons with the boys’ golf team, but one goal slipped away – a berth for a Division I state tournament.

After a busy offseason that included attending several United States Golf Association junior events, Burton believes he’s on track to meet that goal.

“I would like to break through for once, but I’ll cross this bridge when I get there,” he said. “I have certainly tried to improve myself every year. I have made it so far. I’m looking for a big senior season. I would like to improve from last year, but whatever happens, happens.

Led by Burton, the Wildcats opened the season finishing third (309) at the Pickerington Central Invitational on August 4 in Turnberry behind champion Pickerington North (291). Burton shot a 67 to finish second behind North’s Carson Bellish (65).

“I would have liked to win, but overall I played well,” said Burton. “I worked all summer, spring. I played a lot of tournaments over the summer so I’m happy with my first debut in high school for my senior year. I’ll see if I can continue.

Last season, Burton was OCC-Central Player of the Year with an average of 71.25 as Davidson finished fifth (5-15) behind co-champions Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy Orange (18- 2).

“It’s a very difficult division,” said third-year coach Brett Miller. “We have Liberty, Orange, (Dublin) Coffman and Upper Arlington. I know Liberty is going to be very good. Coffman and UA are still very correct. Hopefully we can start competing with these four teams.

Burton was the team’s only district qualifier, tied for 11th out of 72 golfers with a 75.

“It’s good to have a marker that’s consistently below par,” Miller said. “He has the potential to go really low in a lot of these tournaments we’re going to be in. He will compete for the title of medalist in almost every tournament we participate in.

Miller said second-year returnees Aidan Terek and Ben Oakley were competing for second place.

Junior Matt Jackson and sophomores Will Barber and Silas Taphorn are also back, and junior Evan Bailey is also competing for a top-seven spot.

With 18 players in the program and Burton the only senior in college, Miller is optimistic about the future of his program.

“I have a lot of young golfers so there is a lot of competition between the young teams,” Miller said. “It will be fun for the next few years. … We should be strong enough, assuming our sophomores and juniors can keep playing and improving.

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BRADLEY

Coach: Kevin Feeney, second season

Best players: Hayden Clingman, Griffin Dixon, Erik Miller and McKenzie Miller

Main losses: Tison Alexander and Luke Lehman

OCC-Central 2020 ranking: Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy Orange (both 18-2), Dublin Coffman (11-9), Upper Arlington (8-12), Davidson (5-15), Bradley (0-20)

2020 playoffs: Sixth in section

Outlook: The Jaguars have four interchangeable players at the top of the roster and Feeney has said any of them – Clingman, Dixon, Erik Miller and McKenzie Miller – could produce the first round on any given day.

Dixon, a senior, is the only player with boys’ playoff experience after shooting a 79 in a Division I section last season.

McKenzie Miller, a sophomore, led the women’s team with an 84 in the Division I district tournament as a freshman. She switched to the boys ‘team because the girls’ team has only two other participants this season.

Clingman, a senior in his first season with the program, has had strong performances in his two test series. Seniors Scott Caudill and Nathan Potts, junior Ben Colombini and sophomores Eli Duncan and Mason Miller will be looking to complete college education.

Quote: “We have four children who can take the top spot for us. I never know who will shine in our top four. … Eli Duncan will start the season as No.5, but there are around four or five kids who stand a chance to replace him. They were all within four strokes of each other during practice. … McKenzie Miller is thrilled to be part of the team. I think she wanted to have the experience of the team this year. If she can hit the ball off the tee and get some distance, she could be anywhere from No. 1 to No. 4 for us. – Feeney

–Scott Hennen

DARBY

Coach: Brent Bowers: 13th season

Best players: Hunter Bradfield, Tim Mai and Jared Wells

Key loss: Zach Brandewie

OCC-Cardinal 2020 ranking: Dublin Jérôme (20-0), Olentangy Berlin (16-4), Thomas Worthington (9-6), Marysville (9-11), Darby and Olentangy (3-17)

Playoffs: 12th in section

Outlook: In terms of depth, Bowers said the Panthers are in a better position than in previous years.

Wells, a senior who led Darby to a Division I section last season with an 81, returns to the top of the roster. Mai, a freshman, impressed early on to earn second place.

The rest of the roster consists of Bradfield, a senior, sophomore Aidan Kolb and senior Garrett Pierce. However, several competitors in Darby’s 18-man program are expected to see some playing time – including senior Eric Dickmann and second student Will Hoschak – which Bowers says will help the Panthers regain ground against their rivals OCC-Cardinal.

Quote: “I think as a team I can definitely say that we will improve. We have the ability to shoot better scores. I really think that as a team we are much deeper than we have been in previous years. … I think as they master their mental game to match the physical work they’ve put in, they’ll (play well). That would be my focus with them is to relax a bit and let things happen and good things will happen. – Arbors

–Stephen Borgna

DAVIDSON

Coach: Brett Miller, third season

Best players: Zach Burton, Ben Oakley and Aidan Terek

Main losses: Nothing

OCC-Central 2020 ranking: Liberty and Orange (both 18-2), Coffman (11-9), UA (8-12), Davidson (5-15), Bradley (0-20)

2020 playoffs: Eighth in section

Outlook: The Wildcats are looking for a spot in the Division I district, with Burton hoping to qualify for his first state tournament.

Burton was OCC-Central’s Player of the Year last fall with an average of 71.25. He then tied for 11th (75) in the district.

Returning sophomores Terek and Oakley contested for second place, with junior Matt Jackson and sophomores Will Barber and Silas Taphorn also in the mix for top five spots.

Quote: “If we keep making progress, we have a very good chance of reaching the district. “- Meunier

–Frank DiRenna

Senior Griffin Dixon is one of Bradley's best players and second-year coach Kevin Feeney.


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