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High school golf: Casingal hopes to lead Irish to another title

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Catholic golfer Christian Casingal has such an acute grasp on the obvious, yet it's an ability to put it into action that sets him apart from most of West Virginia's Class A high school players.

That's the attitude he takes north today when he travels to Wheeling for the State High School Golf Championships Tuesday and Wednesday at Oglebay Park's Robert Trent Jones Course.

"You have to stay within yourself, concentrate and focus and you can't really think about your score," Casingal said. "Going into the final nine (holes) you just have to think about the little things you need to do to get a low score: Hit the fairway, hit the green and make your putts."

Simplistic perhaps, but practicing what he preaches is what secured medal honors for Casingal last season as a freshman. While it's a long way off, the 10th-grader thinks about the possibility of he, and his team, winning four consecutive titles.

"That's like my major goal for high school golf," said Casingal, who finished three strokes ahead of teammate Aaron Persily for Class A medal honors in 2011. "Not just four years individually, but four years for the team. That would be icing on the cake, winning individually and celebrating with your team. I think we have a good shot."

This year, Casingal and Persily will be joined by teammates Jordan Covelli, Jackson Ellis and Allie Persily - Aaron's younger sister, who will play the second round at No. 4 after Ellis handles the first 18 holes.

History stands in the way of the Irish, who have five golf titles but none consecutively. Catholic has finished first or second 10 times since 1999, and was first or second every year since 2006.

An obstacle for Casingal's quest is Buffalo's Cory Hoshor, who is playing in the State Tournament for the third straight year, but the first time with his team, which includes Blaik Caplinger, Bradley Harris and Drew Patton.

Hoshor has experience on the par 71, 6,605-yard layout, despite a first-round 87 last year - one stroke higher than his first-round performance as a freshman.

He was the individual medalist at the Class A Region 4 Championships - finishing ahead of Casingal and Persily.

"I just didn't come into the tournament playing the greatest (last year)," Hoshor said. "This year I dedicated myself more, started practicing more. I wouldn't say my low numbers are any lower, but my high numbers aren't as high. It's maturity, better decision making, knowing where to hit and not hit the ball."

There is enough competition for medal honors in Class A, including Madonna's Michael Rogers, who was T6 last year; and Moorefield's Quincy Fraley (9th in 2011).

Weather also is a major consideration. The ever-changing weather patterns on top of the hill at Oglebay Resort has shifted - since Friday - from 70 degrees and 10 percent chance of rain on Tuesday to 68 degrees, with thunder and an 80 percent chance of rain.

Hoshor said he's played the Jones course close to 10 times in different seasons.

"The thing about Wheeling is it can change so much in one day," Hoshor said. "Playing it in the fall and playing it in the summer is much different. This time of year, it's usually wet and cold and you're losing 15 to 20 yards per shot because of the thickness to the air. It's windy and rock hard in the summer."

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IN CLASS AA, Poca freshman Alex Hamrick and Scott's Alex Boggs will resume family traditions.

Hamrick is the younger brother of two-time Class AA overall medalist George Hamrick, who is playing college golf for the University of Charleston.

Boggs, meanwhile, is the younger brother of Aaron Boggs, who recently completed his career at Marshall University.

The Dots finished second last year, losing by three strokes to Ritchie County - which failed to qualify this year, losing out to Roane County and Class AA newcomer Fairmont Senior in Region 1. Still, Sydney Snodgrass, who finished third last year just 11 strokes behind, is an at-large qualifier for the Rebels.

Travis Covert and Steve Loudermilk have State Tournament experience for Poca. Covert shot a 79 in the first round last year, but had an 85 on the second day. Sterling Chafin is the only Scott player that participated in last year's states.

Herbert Hoover's Travis Gibson returns to states for the first time since his freshman season (2009).

Grafton (Region 2) and Westside (Region 3) won their respective regions after earning berths in 2011.

The highest finisher from last year among returnees is Bluefield's Evan Smith. He finished third in 2011, nine strokes behind George Hamrick. Ritchie County's Sydney Snodgrass was two strokes behind Smith.

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HURRICANE'S ALEX Hambel is in the mix, following former teammate John Mangus, who played in the State Tournament last year as an individual and improved by seven strokes in the second round (83-76).

Winfield's Chris Williams finished seventh - eight strokes behind - in his only other State Tournament appearance two years ago. A first-round 77 had him in the chase as one of only six players to shoot sub-80 in the first round. However, an 84 in the final 18 holes dropped him back into the pack.

George Washington's Will Evans is making a fourth consecutive appearance at states. As a freshman, he played in the second round only and shot a 92.

He finished T16 as a sophomore and was fifth last year. Kris Webster, GW's No. 2, shot a 169 last year. The Patriots' Austin Florence and Drew Call are new to the State Tournament fold, although Florence traveled with the team last year.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@dailymail.com or 304-348-4837.


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