Eastern Cincinnati Conference All-Stars headlined by Milford senior and two district tournament qualifiers
By Chris Chaney
The Eastern Cincinnati Conference postseason boys’ golf awards were littered with talent, including those from up-and-coming area teams, Milford and Glen Este.
While Loveland claimed both individual awards, the Eagles and Trojans, each had three linksters earn acclaim on the All-Star teams.
The Eagles, who finished second in the league behind Loveland with a record of 8-3 overall and 4-2 in ECC matches, were represented on the First Team honor roll by senior Austin Taylor.
The Eagles’ No. 1 throughout the season, Taylor accrued a 39.3 9-hole average over 171 holes played. The senior asserted himself as one of the best players in the conference early into his final year of eligibility placing in a tie for second at the ECC Preseason Tournament where he fired a 75, two strokes behind medalist and one of the two co-Athletes of the Year, Loveland’s Isaac Vock.
He backed up his preseason tournament result with a top-10 finish at the end-of-the-year ECC Tournament, shooting an 80 to tie for seventh place.
Taylor’s postseason run was nipped in the bud as the right-hander was unable to qualify out of the sectional. Taylor shot a 12-over par 84 at Glenview.
As Taylor’s career at Milford came to an end, Nathan Arnold made sure that the next generation of Eagles golf was in good hands, earning a spot in the district tournament thanks to his team-best 79 at sectionals.
Arnold, a Second Team selection, averaged 40.9 on nine holes over his freshman season. A solid contributor, Arnold stayed among the top three players for coach Phil Sheldon’s squad and the coach is expecting Arnold to fill into a bigger role over the next few seasons.
“(I want him) to become more of a leader (over the next three years),” Sheldon said. “He’ll become a leader with how he plays, but I hope he can become more of a leader in helping the new guys coming in because of the experience he got as a freshman playing at districts.
“You can’t put a price on the experience (at the district). There’s 20 people walking around and watching him.”
Another key component to the future of the Milford program will be Arnold’s fellow classmate Aaron Wade. The Honorable Mention selection averaged a 41.6 for nine holes and will be around with Arnold over the next three years to usher in the next wave of talent on Eagles Way.
Across the conference, Arnold’s district tournament companion from Glen Este, Brandon Gillespie, took top honors for the Trojans, earning a Second Team All-ECC selection for his play during his junior year.
Gillespie, who boasted an even 40.0 9-hole average, advanced out of the sectional tournament courtesy of an 8-over par 80. He matched that total at the district tournament, finishing in a tie for 33rd.
Head coach Butch Novak is excited about the prospect of Gillespie as a senior next season and is planning on working on his game with him in the offseason, both on and off the course.
“To take the next step, he has to gain some yards,” Novak said. “He has to get longer to play longer courses and right now, he just doesn’t have enough length. We’re going to stretch his swing out and get him some more physical strength.
“His short game is just impeccable. I can’t tell you how many coaches have commented on his short game. They’ve never seen a short game like he has on any high school golfer.”
Finishing in solo fourth place in the ECC, Gillespie and Glen Este will have two other returning All-Conference selections to help take the program up another level in 2014.
Sophmore Thomas Zinc was a Second Team selection and junior Tyler Creel was an Honorable Mention. Zinc matched Gillespie’s 9-hole average of 40.0 with Creel a few strokes behind at 43.0.