GRANVILLE - The East Liverpool High School golf team has been looking at the state tournament all season.
"I knew the talent we had coming in this year," East Liverpool coach Ben Wright said. "We were deep enough."
Now it is reality for the Potters as they captured the Division II district title at Granville Golf Course on Wednesday for their first state berth.
East Liverpool shot a 314 to edge out St. Clairsville by one stroke for the team title.
The top two teams and top two individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the state tournament on Oct. 12-13 at the Ohio State University Scarlet Golf Course in Columbus.
Columbus Bishop Watterson just missed a state berth by placing third with a 317. Watterson finished fifth at state last year, while St. Clairsville was eighth.
East Liverpool junior Blake Prince was the co-medalist with an 18-hole score of 3-over-par 74. St. Clairsville's Zach Keylor tied him with a 74.
Also for the Potters, junior Joey Cilone had 76, freshman Isaac Davidson 80, senior Alex Watson 84 and junior Ryian Burson 87.
"Alex shot 45 on front and 39 on back. That was huge getting that fourth score for us," Wright said. "At the bend, it wasn't looking very good for us."
But the Potters came on strong down the stretch in their fourth straight district appearance.
"It was very close," Wright said. "Isaac and Blake made putts on the 18th that were very key for us today.
"Blake made a 4-footer for par in the last group and Isaac made a 6-footer for bogey in the group before. Without that, we would have finished second at best. Who knows what would have happened?"
Prince knew the importance of every stroke. He missed advancing to state as an individual the past two years by one stroke each time.
"For as challenging of a course as it was, those were pretty good scores," Wright said. "It definitely was the toughest course we played this year."
Temperatures were up and scores were down.
"The weather was the nicest we've had for a district tournament," Wright said. "Hopefully we'll get more like it next weekend."
East Liverpool will play a practice round at the Scarlet Course next Thursday before 18 holes of competition both Friday and Saturday.
"There are a lot of phone calls to be placed and arrangements to be made," Wright said.
Wright said he and his players have not seen the course yet.
"You go down there, naturally your goal is to win it," he said. "You can't really judge anything until you see the course and the competition."
(Top two advance to state)
1. East Liverpool (314), 2. St. Clairsville (315), 3. Columbus Bishop Watterson (317), 4. Columbus Bexley (321), 5. Columbus Bishop Hartley (328), 6. Martins Ferry (329), 7. Coshocton (333), 8. Caledonia River Valley (344), 9. Gnadenhutten Indian Valley (348), 10. Hebron Lakewood (349), 11. Zoarville Tuscarawas Valley (352), 12. London (359).