By RYAN VANDERSLOOT
For The York Dispatch
THOMASVILLE — Of all the birthday gifts that may be heading Josh Rinehart’s way, the best one may just be the gold medal he received Wednesday evening.
Even better than a driver’s license.
The West York golfer celebrated his 16th birthday with a 1-over 71, a score that combined with teammates Chris Stolakis (75), Ben Purtell (79) and Axel Hartman (79) to help the Bulldogs (304) earn another York-Adams League title.
West York, the Division II champions, defended their crown after besting Division III champ Fairfield (311) and Division I champ Dallastown (312) at Briarwood West Golf Course. The Bulldogs earned the right to advance to the District 3 tournament Tuesday afternoon back at Briarwood West.
“This is pretty good,” said Rinehart, who took some good-natured ribbing from his coach Bill Ackerman — who joked that the baby-face sophomore just turned 14 — and teammates moments after the gold medal ceremony. “I mean this is great to win another one.”
The outcome was very much in doubt to Ackerman, who believed his team to be trailing Fairfield prior to the final handful of holes. The Green Knights were in solid position as the duo of Isaiah Logue (69) and Adam Poulson (72) finished in the top three of the individual standings.
“I’m very surprised,” Ackerman said. “It just didn’t seem like we were playing that well, but it’s hard to tell. When you’re playing against two quality teams like Fairfield and Dallastown, you expect them to play equally as well.”
The West York coach admitted he was a little frustrated at times with some of the course conditions.
“It was frustrating for me as a spectator,” he said. “There were a couple of times where the nearest point of relief from casual water was sending the kids 35 yards back. Some of them just decided to play where they were at. It was like literally hitting out of a stream.”
Ackerman, though, admired his team’s perseverance en route to earning him his third league title over his 11 years as golf coach at West York.
“Ben ended up playing great late to get to a 79,” he said. “Josh coming in with a 71 was huge and Chris Stolakis has been really playing great. A 75 from him (Stolakis) really tipped the scale.”
Rinehart, who was in a pairing with Logue and Dallastown’s Brandon Greenplate, was impressed with how well Logue played en route to his 1-under score. He also suggested that Logue’s play may have elevated his game as he felt like he had to keep up with Logue shot for shot.
“He played great all day,” Rinehart said. “I think he had like six or seven birdies. I was just trying to keep up with him really.”
While winning the league title was obviously of primary importance Wednesday, the ability for all three teams to play under pressure in less-than-ideal conditions may prove to be an upcoming advantage. Most of the players from each of the three teams will compete again in the District 3/York-Adams League Individual qualifier Thursday.
“It’s going to be interesting (Thursday),” Ackerman said. “There are going to be a lot of kids that can shoot well, but if they can’t handle adverse conditions, they’re going to be in trouble. Playing (today) was huge for all three teams, no doubt.”
Fairfield assistant golf coach Greg Crevier echoed Ackerman’s sentiment.
“This is a win for everyone,” he said. “It was under adverse conditions. It was muddy everywhere.”
Crevier, who was subbing for head coach John Ridge, didn’t feel the course conditions affected play all that much.
“It was fun to have a three team competition and have it that tight,” he said. “Some of the scores were real low and everything was kind of bunched up real tight.”
Dallastown was led by Andrew Geesey’s 76. Dalton Wise finished with a 77, while Greenplate shot a 78 for the Wildcats.
– Ryan Vandersloot covers sports for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.