CLYDE - There was a tight race at the Midland Athletic League Golf Championships. Five teams finished within 10 shots of each other.
But that was the race for second place. Nobody was catching Hopewell-Loudon.
There only were five rounds in the 70s Thursday at Green Hills. Two of those were carded by Chieftains. Jarid Gelinas shot a 75 and Bryce Gorrell was close behind him with a 77 as Hopewell-Loudon scored 331 as a team, 23 shots better than its closest competitor, Lakota, which posted a 354. Mohawk (357) grabbed third place, followed by Fremont St. Joe (362). St. Wendelin and North Baltimore each shot 364, with the Mohawks beating out the Tigers for fifth, based on their fifth golfer score.
Taking the top spot Thursday locked up the MAL title for the unbeaten Chieftains. Points earned during Thursday's meet combined with points from two earlier MAL shootouts to determine the league champion and top individuals.
"I'm proud of the guys," Gorrell said. "We've played well all year. We've practiced this summer and played a lot. It's just nice for us to finally have a good team this year and win the MAL."
Gorrell has been Hopewell-Loudon's No. 1 player all year, and earned the league's top individual honors, but Gelinas had a little something extra in his bag Thursday.
"I think I just had a little bit of senior adrenaline going out there," Gelinas said. "It's my last time I'll get to do this, so I just wanted to do something special."
Also for the Chieftains, Aric Creeger fired an 82 and Garret Sendelbach shot a 97. Gelinas and Creeger finished the MAL season ranked second and third in the league behind Gorrell.
"We have a good top three that have been playing well all year. They feed off each other, " said Chieftain coach Bob Maurer. "Bryce Gorrell played a little bit rougher than normal, but he game back and got better. Jarid Gelinas played exceptionally well and Aric Creeger's just a steady rock out there. We got our fourth man, Garret Sendelbach, that solidified the entire team.
Gelinas was one shot off the medalist score of 74 shot by Fremont St. Joe's Aaron Burns. However, he said the goal was a team victory.
"Really, I just wanted the team to win today," Gelinas said. "We're undefeated and all I was hoping for was a first-place finish and we got it. Bryce played solid, and Aric and Garret are our X-factors. I was just hoping for a first place finish for the team today."
Hopewell-Loudon now looks towards the postseason. Gorrell says the way the team is playing is a good sign with sectionals coming up next week.
"As a team we're playing pretty well right now," he said. "We've been pretty consistent all year. We've put some good rounds together. We keep it up and we'll make it out of sectionals pretty easy."
St. Joe took second in the final MAL standings, with Mohawk and Lakota tying for third based off strong showings Thursday.
"These kids, the Mohawk golf team has been amazing all year long," Mohawk coach Dave Myers said. "They outdid themselves today. ... They've improved so much. They came here today in a pressure situation and played really good. I'm really proud of them."
Powering Mohawk's effort was Chet Margraf who shot the fourth best round of the day with a 78.
"He was just calm, cool and collected today," Myers said. "He went out and did his business, put the ball in the fairway, put the ball on the green and made the putts he needed to make. He just played really good golf."
"I started out really good, had a little trouble in the middle, but I was able to recover at the end there," Margraf said. "I started out with pars and I was really happy. Missed a few birdie putts, but that was OK.
"I hope I can keep it going for sectionals. I liked the scores I put up today. A lot better than the 90s I started with. I'd love to continue these scores."
Mohawk also got an 82 from Brayden Dunlap, a 98 from Carson Weinandy and a 99 from Billy Dunlap.
Lakota was paced by the 79 of two-time state girls qualifier Makayla Dull. Despite a fifth place showing Thursday, and a fifth place spot in the final league rankings, Dull said her day could've gone better.
"It was so-so, I felt I played better than how it came out," she said. "I was hitting my irons very well. There was just a few shots that didn't really help. It was an average day I think. Not great, but not terrible."
Hunter Chalfin backed up Dull's performance with an 83. Josh Mason fired a 95 and Kevin Woodruff carded a 97.
"I'm very proud of them," said Lakota coach Chad Garberich. "We've made a lot of progress. We struggled in the second MAL shootout, which we shot ourselves in the foot, sort of took us out of it today. Came back with a strong showing today. Hunter played well, Makayla played well. Josh had a good front nine, struggled on the back nine. Kevin did his thing. Very proud of them."
St. Wendelin's top day came from Dalton Murray with an 89. But it was the 97 from fifth golfer Makenzie McAfee that put them ahead of North Baltimore for fifth. The Mohawks also edged the Tigers for fifth in the final standings.
Seneca East and Old Fort shared seventh. Johnny Diehm led Seneca East with an 88; Old Fort got an 83 from Brad Heilman. The teams' fifth golfers tied creating a tie Thursday. Seneca East edged out Old Fort for seventh in the final standings.
New Riegel (402) took ninth led by Travis Williams with a 96. Carey finished 10th (409) led by Grant Wentling with a 97. Ryan Hager shot a 100 to top Bettsville in 11th place. Calvert didn't field a full team, but got an 88 from Matt Huffmon.