Top hon­ors for Nazareth duo

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Michael Blouse Michael Blouse is a free­lance writer.

TJ Bohl called the vic­tory a “step­ping stone.” Ethan Hon­sel said it served as a “con­fi­dence booster.”

Bohl and Hon­sel, ju­niors at Nazareth Area High School, started off their sea­son in style Fri­day morn­ing, shoot­ing an 8-un­der 62 to win the 19th John Wasser tour­na­ment at Shepherd Hills Golf Club.

Cou­pled with a strong per­for­mance in Thurs­day’s East­ern Penn­syl­va­nia Con­fer­ence opener, Bohl and Hon­sel are ex­tremely op­ti­mistic about their high school sea­son. Nazareth, coached by Jar­ret Hoff, amassed a team to­tal of 398 to eas­ily best Beth­le­hem Catholic, Free­dom and White­hall in the opener.

“Def­i­nitely, Em­maus is the team to beat,” Hon­sel said of the tal­ented, young Green Hor­nets, who are con­sid­ered the pre­sea­son fa­vorites. “I think we can change that, though.”

“Em­maus and us are the two big threats,” Bohl agreed, “but they’re fa­vored by area golf peo­ple.”

Though not an of­fi­cial scholas­tic event, the Wasser Cup draws two-player teams from high schools all across the Le­high Val­ley. The tour­na­ment de­buted in 2001 to honor John Wasser, who was struck by light­ning and killed on a golf course in 1998. Wasser’s fam­ily or­ga­nized the event in part to high­light ju­nior golf in the area.

Bohl and Hon­sel were on-point from the start Fri­day, card­ing eight birdies, while avoid­ing any bo­geys.

Their near­est threat, Em­maus’ team of sopho­more Matt Zer­fass and fresh­man John Keba, shot a 66 to fin­ish four strokes be­hind the win­ners.

“Putting,” Hon­sel said of the key to the round. “TJ dropped every­thing within 15 feet. He kept drop­ping them and a lot were birdies. We hit some very good wedge shots, too. Our short game was the key.”

“That’s prob­a­bly the best I’ve putted in a while,” Bohl ad­mit­ted. “Ethan hit the drives, I hit the putts. And we were both sharp with the short game.”

Bohl and Hon­sel walked off the Shepherd Hills course with a big tro­phy, Nazareth’s first Wasser Cup ti­tle since Trevor Buss and Evan Fahs won the bet­ter-ball event in 2016. Buss and Fahs shot a 65.

“It was re­ally en­joy­able,” Bohl said. “It means a lot to bring an­other Wasser Cup back to Nazareth.”

Elite Em­maus

Coach Mo Bryan’s Green Hor­nets en­joyed a suc­cess­ful Wasser Cup tour­na­ment, as both two-player teams shot be­low par and placed among the top six.

Zer­fass and Keba were run­ners-up, while ju­nior Michelle Cox, the con­fer­ence’s girls champ last sea­son, and sopho­more Ai­den LeBlanc set­tled for sixth place with a 1-un­der 69.

Em­maus showed its strength in Thurs­day’s EPC opener, eas­ily out­play­ing con­tenders Lib­erty and Northamp­ton. Em­maus se­cured the EPC reg­u­lar-sea­son crown and the Dis­trict 11 3A team ti­tle a year ago, while Northamp­ton cap­tured the EPC tour­na­ment ti­tle last year.

Patti Cox, an as­sis­tant to Bryan who rep­re­sented Em­maus at the Wasser Cup, said the an­nual event was a great way to start the sea­son.

“It’s a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity,” Cox said. “It’s a chance for every­one here to re­con­nect with play­ers from others schools. The lo­cal golf com­mu­nity is tight. And it cer­tainly was a con­fi­dence-builder for John Keba, our fresh­man, as well as Matt, Ai­den and Michelle.”

Best of the rest

South­ern Le­high’s tag-team of Chris An­drews and Ro­man Lisicky shot a 2-un­der 68 to take third.

Lib­erty se­nior Joey Al­te­mose part­nered with fresh­man Matthew Vi­tal to place fourth, also at 68.

Al­te­mose teamed up with Evan Cartwright to win the Wasser Cup a sea­son ago. Vi­tal, who won the na­tional Drive, Chip & Putt com­pe­ti­tion at Au­gusta Na­tional in April, is a promis­ing ninth-grader at Lib­erty.

MICHAEL BLOUSE/SPE­CIAL TO THE MORN­ING CALL

Nazareth’s TJ Bohl, left, and Ethan Hon­sel fired an 8-un­der 62 to win the Wasser Cup.

MICHAEL BLOUSE/SPE­CIAL TO THE MORN­ING CALL

Em­maus’ top four of Michelle Cox, from left, Matt Zer­fass, John Keba and Ai­den LeBlanc are the rea­son the Green Hor­nets are picked to win the East­ern Penn­syl­va­nia Con­fer­ence ti­tle.

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