Genoa’s Tommy Giles hopes to keep the magic going

J. Patrick Eaken

Three-time defending Northern Buckeye Conference champion Genoa boys golf has a new man at the helm, coach Chris Katafiasz, and he has a hard act to follow.
Last year under coach Mike DeStazio, the Comets capped off the program’s best performance ever at the two-day state tournament, placing seventh out of 12 teams in the Division II event at Northstar Golf Club in Sunbury, Ohio.
However, Katafiasz was there all along as the Genoa junior varsity boys coach from 2016-18, so he helped in the development of that state qualifying team. In 2017, he coached the Genoa JV team to an unofficial invitational state championship under many of those same players. Plus, he was the Genoa varsity girls coach from 2014-15, so he’s paid his dues teaching the game of golf.
This year the Comets return two lettermen in seniors Tommy Giles and Joey Large, who are joined by classmate Liam Mazur and sophomores Jake Ewerson and Ian Wilcox. Giles, a first team All-NBC choice as a junior, averaged 39.2 strokes in league play.
“Tommy Giles should lead the team in scoring the whole season and compete for NBC Player of the Year,” Katafiasz said. “He has a great understanding of the golf swing and game, a solid work ethic, is highly motivated to accomplish many goals this year and leads the team by example which is why he is the team captain.
“Joey Large will be on varsity for a second straight year and will bring much needed experience to an inexperienced team. Liam Mazur has come a long way since his freshman year and will be a valuable asset this year in his first year on varsity. He is hyper focused and determined to perfect his game and shoot the lowest he can each round,” Katafiasz continued.
“Sophomores Jake Ewersen and Ian Wilcox have worked hard all summer on their game and continue to take lessons and work hard at practice to lower their scores. They will make the jump from JV last year to varsity this year.”
Despite the success last year, the cupboard is not bare, and a fourth straight title is not out of the question, says Katafiasz.
“I expect us to finish in the top half of the league this year and push for a fourth straight championship. With Tommy Giles as our anchor scorer and four other players who have a solid work ethic and love for the game of golf, I believe we can surprise teams and pull off some upsets. We just have to polish up our games during the first part of the season and be peaking when league play starts,” Katafiasz said.
“All of the teams in our league have solid programs so anyone can take the trophy. Woodmore has a lot of returning, experienced players making them the favorites to win the NBC.”
Katafiasz notes that anything can happen on a given day on the golf course, adding that his team just needs to stay focused.
“Our team’s strength is the desire and drive to bring in the best score we can each day. This leads to focused practices in which players are helping each other and working outside of the normal scheduled practices,” Katafiasz said. 
“The biggest challenge we face this year is improving our mental game. Being able to play the smart shot, take our medicine after bad shots and limit the number of big scores on holes is key. We have to stop focusing on overall round score and shot outcomes and let our swings naturally do what they have been trained to do and trust each shot.”
At last year’s state meet, Genoa finished with a team score of 692, while Gahanna Columbus Academy won its third straight D-II state title with a score of 615. The Comets placed 11th at the D-II state tournament in 2009, and they finished 11th in 1998 and 12th in 1992.
Giles, a junior last year, was the Comets’ low man at the state tournament, shooting an 80 on Friday and an 88 on a cold, windy Saturday for a 24-over 168, which gave him a tie for 32nd place. Large was a team alternate.
“We were in sixth place after the first day and that’s when I thought we could make a statement down there,” Giles told The Press. “I wanted us to take top eight, and after that first day I was real confident we could make that. We got a good look at the course and it fit us well.”
To qualify for state, Genoa shot a 336 to finish in second place at the district golf tournament at Sycamore Springs Golf Course. Genoa and Galion both shot 336, but Galion won the district championship based on the score of the fifth golfer. For Genoa, Giles shot 41-40—81.
In the league last year, Genoa scored 48 points by winning all four NBC shootouts and the league meet to take the title over second place Eastwood (40). The Comets have won 14 straight NBC shootouts going into this season.
In the league’s final tournament at Green Hills Golf Course in Clyde, Giles scored 40-38—78 as the team scored 318 to defeat second place Eastwood (362). Large shot 46-45—91 for the Comets. (— includes file contributes from Press sportswriter Mark Griffin).


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