Chamblee’s Golf Team “Tees” Up at County Tournament

Golf coach Kurt Koeplin poses with Olivia Li, who finished second overall in individual score at the county championships

Photo courtesy of Kurt Koeplin

Golf coach Kurt Koeplin poses with Olivia Li, who finished second overall in individual score at the county championships

Henry Diep, Staff Writer

Chamblee’s very own golf team recently competed at the Dekalb County School District Golf Championships on April 13th. The boys team placed third overall in the county for the title, and one member of the girls team finished second overall in individual score.

“The boys team finished third behind Dunwoody and Lakeside. We did not have enough girls to complete a golf team for the competition, so we just had one girl, Olivia Li (‘22), who played and ended up finishing second as the individual,” said golf coach Kurt Koeplin. “Next year, we should be able to field a full girls golf team again, but there were some injuries and we had a [player] transfer [schools] so we had to kind of reconstruct things and rebuild this year.”

The boys team, on the other hand, was able to field a full team of six players.

“The boys team did well. We had six out of six [players] who made the cut, which is a predetermined [cut-off score] between the nine holes,” said Koeplin. “Ethan Santucci (‘22), who finished second individually [in the county], shot an 80. I think Dillon Reynolds (‘21) shot 96  he was the second lowest — and I think Zac Mittleman (‘23) shot a 98 — he was third lowest on our team. Remember [that] in golf, you want the lowest score.”

This bodes well for the future of Chamblee’s golf team, as only one of the players is currently a senior and the rest will likely be returning next year.

“[The boys team] finished third, but we were 12 strokes behind Lakeside, which is not a great distance, but 30 something strokes behind Dunwoody, so that’s a big chunk. Finishing third is pretty consistent with where we’re at,” said Koeplin. “The nice thing is that we’re only losing one of our top six and the rest are all going to be back and I see continual improvement. I think that we can challenge for that second place in the county next year, giving Lakeside a good run. And, you know, if Ethan improves, and our sophomores will be juniors next year [and] continue to improve then I think that [we] can be pretty successful.”

Koeplin also hopes that the girls team will be able to advance to state next year with a full team.

“Two years ago, [the girls team [was] in the state tournament — they finished ninth in the state two years ago — so I’m hoping that once we get everybody back full strength next year, then we once again get into that state tournament as a team for the girls,” he said.

Unfortunately, Koeplin believes it might be a little more difficult for the boys to be able to advance to state as a team due to the strong competition from neighboring schools.

“It’s a little tougher for the boys. The boys’ route to state goes through an awful lot of good teams like St. Pius and Northview and a couple of schools to the west of us — Eastside out in Athens, and Greenbrier I believe is out there too — They [all] have pretty strong boys teams, so those will be tough to come up against next year,” he said. “But in golf, you can have a really hot round and that can go a long way towards propelling your team.”

According to Koeplin, there have been multiple players who have stepped up this year for the team.

“Olivia Li [really stepped up] for the girls. And then right here at the end, her sister, Sophie Li (‘23) came off of an injury on a foot that she had some surgery done on in November and so she couldn’t [play] until this week. She played Monday in the area tournament, the tournament that qualifies individuals and teams for the state tournament next month, and Sophie actually was four strokes better than her sister,” said Koeplin.

In fact, two members of the team will have the honor of advancing to compete in the state tournament on May 17th in Columbus, Georgia.

“Sophie is going to advance down to Columbus for the state tournament next month as well as Ethan Santucci for the boys, who shot a 78 [on] Monday. That’s the lowest score that a male golfer here [at Chamblee] has shot in over 20 years, so we’re pretty proud of Ethan for representing us like that,” said Koeplin.

So while Chamblee’s golf team may have placed third at the DCSD Golf Championships, the season is far from over as Santucci and Sophie Li prepare to represent the team at the state competition later this month.