Lady Red overachieve, earn trip to Columbus
For a school to make it to state twice in seven years is quite the accomplishment.
To do it twice in seven total years as a program is extraordinary.
That is exactly what Bellevue has accomplished as the Lady Red get sent off as a team this morning for a practice round before the two-day OHSAA state tournament at Ohio State’s Gray Course this weekend.
“We started out by not knowing who was going to be on the varsity team,” Bellevue coach Walt Snyder said. “We have had eight or nine kids rotating in and out of varsity matches. We have got a lot of experience from it.”
Bellevue finished fourth as a team at the district tournament Oct. 1, with a score of 371, one shot behind St. Henry’s 370 for third place.
“The girls have gone beyond what they thought they could do,” Snyder said. “I never dreamed we would be going to state. We lost one pretty good golfer because she did not come out. At the start, I figure we had three pretty good golfers, but we have had some other kids step up.”
Lara Spurlock led the Redmen with an 89 (49-40) while No. 5 player Tristan Rupp carded a 91 (43-48). Cassandra Biedrzycki added a 92 (48-44) and Riley Hager a 99 (47-52) to round out the team’s score. Olivia Martinez also golfed, tallying a 102 (48-54).
“At the beginning of the season, I did not expect to be going to Columbus,” Spurlock, a sophomore, said. “As we kept getting better, I kept feeling that we had a chance and I knew going into districts, we had a good chance of getting out.”
That performance came a week after Bellevue took third out of 15 teams at the sectional event. Spurlock (87), Biedrzycki (93), Rupp (95), and Hager (100) led the way that day.
“When you work at something, you achieve something,” Snyder said. “These girls worked extra hard. Then have had good support from their parents.”
The fourth-place spot at the district meet that Bellevue took was 12 strokes ahead of Huron — the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay division champion which went 14-0 in the regular season. At the sectional meeting, Huron beat the Redmen by 17 strokes — a 29-shot turnaround.
“They just came together all of a sudden,” Snyder said. “We had people pushing people, especially our sophomores and juniors. No matter what, the seniors shot, I let them play. At the beginning of the year, we had so much competition. I had eight girls letter and that is unheard of.”
The Lady Red took first place at the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake meet at the Fremont Country Club on Sept. 18th. Bellevue won the event with a score of 384, exactly 30 strokes better than Columbian’s 414.
“The goals for the season most likely were to win SBC,” Spurlock said. “We knew that from the start we had a good shot this year. The majority of the season was overcoming adversity. We have people who have not played much golf at all step up and score on varsity this year.”
Biedrzycki led Bellevue at the SBC invite with a 94 (47-47) while Spurlock had a 95 (47-48).
“The one thing about this team is if someone was down, there was always someone that came along during the season to pick them up,” Snyder said. “Someone is always picking each other up. That is the mode of this team and I could not be more happier for them.”
Everything has not always been smooth sailing for the Redmen. After wins over Vermilion (189-257), Norwalk (177-210), Port Clinton (185-268), Perkins (182-193), and Vermilion again (184-247), Bellevue suffered its first loss on Sept. 11 against Columbian at the Mohawk Country Club, 202-196.
“It did not really bother me because you are going to have highs and lows in golf,” Snyder said. “You might shoot perfect one day and then the next day not. It is the hardest game to play outside of contact sports. It is something you think you have got beat and all of a sudden your drive goes haywire or your irons go haywire.”
Spurlock’s 46 led the Redmen that day.
“We did not think we had loss,” Hager said. “The practice the next day, we had a talk and I think it made us come back better. I think it made us think that we were not always going to be the best. We had to have the low to have the high.”
But, Bellevue bounced back and beat Perkins (200-214) and Columbian (189-209) heading into the SBC meet. Rupp’s 47 was best against Perkins. Spurlock (44), Rupp (47), Hager (47), and Biedrzycki (49) all turned in great scores in the second meeting with the Tornadoes.
“At the beginning of the season, I truly thought that it was going to be our year to make it,” Hager said. “We worked really, really hard to get there.”
The Redmen also took third place at the Ashland Invite behind Lexington and the hosts. Biedrzycki paced Bellevue with a 91 while Spurlock added a 92.
“We knew if we could get out of sectionals, because we have one of the hardest sectionals in the state, we would have a chance to get to state,” Spurlock said. “We were doing the math and knew we would have a chance if we could just get out of sectionals.”
Bellevue is a melting pot of sorts, with players that play other sports, as well as band members on the team.
“The further we go along in the season, the more we become a family,” Spurlock said. “We are not just a golf team. It is such a different team with all the adversity and hard practices. I think it brings us all together, even though we are all so different in many ways.”
The only other trip to state for Bellevue came in 2015, an 11th-place finish.
“We want to finish better than 11th,” Hager said. “That is what that team did, but we want to do better than that to set our own mark.”
The Redmen will stop for lunch today before a practice round at 12:20 p.m. After that, they will go to their motel before dinner and bed. They will arrive to the course on Friday around 8 A.M. before teeing off at 9 A.M.
“I think we care capable of getting top five in the state,” Spurlock said. “All the teams after the top three are within 10 strokes of each other. Anybody can beat anybody on the day. It is just whoever comes mentally to play that day.”