Thinking Three-Peat: St. Marys golfers already eyeing 2021’s ultimate prize
ST. MARYS, W.Va. — Catie Hamilton and her St. Marys golfers easily claimed a second straight Class A championship after a performance 16 strokes better than runner-up Moorefield last Wednesday at Oglebay Resort’s Jones Course.
They may not be done.
It certainly appears to be a possibility.
The return of all five current Blue Devil golfers, including two all-state players and nearly a third in Grant Barnhart, Brandon Lawhon, and Brayden Hall, makes their attempt at the first back-to-back-to-back championship run, since Charleston Catholic won six in a row from 2011-2016, a distinct possibility.
Add in an impressive elevating middle school class along with Ethan Bennett and Kyle Jones and the talent well isn’t running dry anytime soon. If anything, the addition of the newcomers brings a new element to push the returners. No one’s spot on the team is safe either, according to Hamilton.
The team could look even more unlike what Lawhon thought this year’s state champion looked like. And if that is the case, it could be a scary sight for many opposing teams. Three all-state caliber players being pushed to their limits only helps the entire group.
She also isn’t shocked Barnhart and Lawhon are already thinking about yet another state championship.
“Their minds are always on sports and they are very athletic. They know the potential is there and they both will do whatever it takes to come back even better. Brayden, Kyle and Ethan will keep improving as well. Now with our youth coming up they are motivated to go even harder,” Hamilton said.
“Everyone starts off each season with a fresh slate and it just depends on how much work they put in over the summer. Average is just one thing we take into consideration when we are making our lineup and that goes continuously throughout the season. The eighth graders definitely have a great chance to crack the lineup.”
All that is left for the players to do is put in the off-season work to continue to get better.
Or it is more about continuing that work as not one day after the state tournament the group was already out at St. Marys Golf Club working on their games.
The anticipation for next season also was noticeable during an interview Friday night at the St. Marys-Wirt County football game, where the team was honored for its achievement.
“We look forward to it as we have nothing to lose as it is our (Lawhon, Bennett and his) last year and we might as well go for it,” Barnhart said.
“It is nice knowing we have another year and there is so much to improve on from last week, we should have a really good team,” Lawhon said.
Durability was a key term mentioned when both were asked to give a desired area of improvement.
So, what are the avenues available for the continued improvement of the group?
The Callaway Tour and other individual tournaments such as the qualifiers for the W.Va. Amateur Open and the Am itself are among the tops on the list.
When asked if it ever gets tiring, Barnhart answered in the affirmative but also agreed with Lawhon’s statement of satisfaction with the results.
“It is really nice because you know it will pay off because you have seen it pay off,” he said.
Chances to improve at the course will become limited as the colder months descend on the Mid-Ohio Valley. Basketball also will take up a large amount of Barnhart’s time. However, each player said they will get out when the weather permits.
“Maybe once or twice a week most likely. It is all weather dependent,” Barnhart said.
Hamilton constantly expresses nothing but appreciation and admiration for her group’s work ethic.
“This is a great group of kids and they are such hard workers. I have complete faith in them that they will put in the work this offseason and next summer. Last summer they were up at the course eight to ten hours a day just working on their skills. And that is great. Golf is a game you can’t just go out and play and play and play. You have to break down your game and work on where you are struggling every single year,” Hamilton said.
“I have all the faith in the world we will be able to accomplish the same great things next season,” she added.