Photo by Jeff Yoder
Click here for photo gallery
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Leading up to his senior season Ethan Yahr worked on improving every aspect of his golf game.
From driving to putting Yahr spent time on it all in preparation for what he hoped would be a memorable senior season.
The main offseason focus for Yahr had nothing to do with his swing mechanics or short game and everything to do with the mental aspect of the sport.
“I really worked to improve mentally,” Yahr said. “I knew I had to work so if I would start playing bad I’d figure out a way to salvage a round and not mess it up completely.”
The ultimate test to Yahr’s offseason mental training came on Friday and the Solon senior aced it.
Less than 24 hours after carding a disappointing 83 in his first 18-hole competition of the season Yahr bounced back to earn medalist honors at the Solon Invitational.
Yahr fired a one-over-par 73 on a windy and cool afternoon at Lake MacBride Golf Course to lift Solon to the team title at its own invite.
“I just tried to forget about yesterday and took the little time I had to get ready for the next day and focused on today,” Yahr said. “I knew playing at home was the perfect way to get back on track and get things going the right direction.”
The 10-stroke improvement by Yahr led an impressive turnaround effort by the Spartans which cut nearly 30 strokes off their team score from a fifth-place finish on Thursday at the Tipton Invite.
Senior Blake Newell shot a 77 to finish runner-up on Friday and Joe Stahle was fifth with an 81 as Solon shot a 317 to finish nine strokes clear of runner-up Central DeWitt.
West Branch was third with a 343 and Regina finished seventh with a 373.
“There is nothing different what I said today or anything like that it was their mindset, they are comfortable here,” Solon coach Adam Stahle said. “On Tuesday we had a home dual and we shot 171 and we shot below 160 both nines today. What is it I have no idea but we always seem to play well at this tournament.”
Yahr led the Solon rebound effort with his best outing of the season.
A day after finishing outside of the top 10 at Tipton it was Yahr that set the pace on Friday.
He trailed Central DeWitt standout Rielly McGranahan by one stroke after nine holes but closed with an even-par 36 on the final nine to finish four strokes in front of McGrahan and Newell.
“I told him after the round yesterday as disappointed as he was and as disappointed as I was in the way he played because he is a better golfer than an 83, the one thing I was very proud was I couldn’t tell what he shot,” Stahle said. “In years past I would be able to see how he is playing just by how he was walking and he didn’t show that yesterday as frustrated as he was and I think that shows signs of maturity and signs of being a leader.”
Yahr shook off what he labeled a frustrating round on Thursday quickly opening play with one of his four birdies of the day on the par-four first.
After recording five three-putts during his round of 83 on Thursday, Yahr didn’t have a single one on Friday.
He putted better, hit the ball better of the tee box and liked the way he attacked the green with approach shots.
The biggest improvement from Thursday, just as Yahr hoped it would be, was his mental game.
“I did everything well today, I hit two balls out of bounds but on those holes I made bogeys and that helped to limit the damage,” Yahr said. “Last year those would be doubles or triples maybe and today they were bogeys.”
The best example of that resiliency came in how Yahr closed out his round.
He put his tee shot in the water on his 17th hole of the day resulting in his only double bogey.
Yahr responded by closing his round with a birdy on the par-five 18th.
“He hit it in the water on hole eight and years past that would have been a seven or an eight for him but he regrouped he got a six and then he comes back and birdies the last hole,” Stahle said. “Everybody is going to have bad holes how do you respond after that. Does a double lead to a triple or do you do what Ethan did and you double a hole and you turn around and make a birdie?”
Newell also posted a season-best round with a 77 that featured an even-par 36 on the back nine.
“I was really happy with how I played today,” Newell said. “Being in the 70s and getting second is really big for me and for my confidence going forward.”
Stahle made the most improvement from Thursday, knocking 13 strokes off his score on his way to a fifth-place finish.
Jordan Wolfe shot an 86 for Solon as the Spartans improved by 29 strokes as a team from Thursday.
“It helps a lot playing at home, I know the course and everything about it and that is a big advantage,” Stahle said. “I just loosened up and played a lot better.”
Mark Schomer shot an 84 to finish eighth to pace Regina while Cade Aspelmeier led West Branch with an 85 to finish 10th.
Team scores – 1. Solon 314; 2. Central DeWitt 323; 3. West Branch 343; 4. Tipton 353; 5. Wilton 354; 6. Durant 366; 7. Regina 373; 8. West Liberty 402
Top Individuals – 1. Ethan Yahr (Solon) 37-36 – 73; 2. Blake Newell (Solon) 41-36 – 77; Rielly McGranahan (Central DeWitt) 36-41 – 77; 4. Lucas Callison 40-40 – 80; 5. Joe Stahle (Solon) 42-39 – 81; 6. Jacob Swanson (Central DeWitt) 45-38 – 83; 7. Tucker Kinney (Central DeWitt) 44-39 – 83; 8. Mark Schomer (Regina) 43-41 – 84; 9. Keith Penningroth (Tipton) 45-40 – 85; 10. Cade Aspelmeier (West Branch) 45-40 – 85.
Solon (314) – Ethan Yahr (Solon) 37-36 – 73; Blake Newell (Solon) 41-36 – 77; Joe Stahle (Solon) 42-39 – 81; Spencer Wolfe 42-44 – 86; Aidan Dall 39-52 – 91; Lucas TePoel 48-46 – 94.
West Branch (343) – Cade Aspelmeier 45-40 – 85; Ted Bridges 44-43 – 87; Kaleb Sexton 44-44 – 88; Mitchell Knoop 43-46 – 89; Trevor Thein 49-40 – 89; Brady Lukavsky 45-45 – 90.
Regina (373) – Mark Schomer 43-41 – 84; Andrew Miller 45-50 – 95; Nic Hein 51-46 – 97; Scott Arendt 49-48 – 97; Jake Phillips 52-51 – 103; Steve Sehl 53-50 – 103