STATE GOLF Warren JFK goes for 2nd crown

The Golden Eagles won last year's Division III crown.
WARREN -- The Warren Kennedy High boys golf team has put itself in position to win a second straight Division III state title.
"It's a blessing to get back there and be able to defend our title," coach Bob Todd said.
Especially after battling through a district competition at Hartville's Seven Hills Country Club, where only two teams qualify to state.
"Last week there was more pressure on us," said Todd, referring to district competition. "You could have a bad day. Two guys could shoot a high number, and you might miss it by a couple of strokes."
That didn't happen. The Eagles joined Gates Mills Gilmour Academy in representing the Northeast District this weekend in Columbus.
State competition will begin Friday as the Eagles tee off at 9:18 a.m. on Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Also qualifying as an individual is Sebring senior Cory Schneider, who tees off at 9:58 Friday on the Scarlet Course.
Leading the way: Clearing the path for Kennedy are five golfers who helped lock up the 2000 state title. They are seniors Chris Macali and Kevin Costello, juniors Jason Kokrak and Jim Scheiber and sophomore Colin Clemente.
Todd credits their success to Kennedy's increased involvement in tournament competition.
"We put the boys in more tournaments than ever before," Todd said. "All good teams play more 18-hole tournaments than they do nine-hole matches after school."
It's a matter of getting the Eagles accustomed to a tournament atmosphere. Plus, it helps them maintain the same level of play as the top teams in the state.
"In Columbus and Cincinnati, those guys have tournament after tournament," Todd said. "But you still need your nine-hole matches after school with local rivals."
Todd is in his fourth year with the program, while coach Bob Heltzel is in his fifth. Together, they have helped rebuild the Kennedy program after it experienced success in the 1970s and '80s.
The program's evolvement under their tenure can be seen in its recent successes, from Adam Daskovich qualifying for state in Todd's first year, to Kokrak becoming the first Kennedy freshman to qualify two years ago.
At the top: Then last year, Kennedy's run as a team didn't stop until it had stood alone at the top.
"First and foremost, all the kids I've had are two- and three-sport individuals. They've got the talent for that," Todd said. "They belong to local [golf] clubs and they get to play a lot because their parents are involved.
"They've had opportunities way before we got a hold of them."
The Eagles have targeted a score of 320 Friday to be in contention for Saturday's final round, Todd said.
"If we get two 75s and two 80s, we'll be in the hunt every time," Todd said. "That's the magic number."