HINCKLEY TWP. — The field was deep, the weather was poor and the course was tougher than ever.
These have been the parameters the past five years at the Pine Hills Division I District. So, too, has been the Medina boys golf team manning up with clutch rounds.
Led Wednesday by a 6-over-par 78 from sophomore Spencer Koch — the third different player to lead the team in scoring during the postseason — the Bees (324) finished seven strokes behind Walsh Jesuit to advance to state for the fifth straight season.
The Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division and Barberton Brookside Sectional champions, who qualified comfortably by 14 strokes after grueling 7-hour rounds, will close another highly successful season Oct. 19-20 at Ohio State University’s Scarlet Course.
“This is a big achievement for us,” Koch said. “We’ve set this goal for the entire year, and to finally get there and keep up tradition on a tough course, it’s big. It’s very big.”
Four-year starter Sean Sherman (80), Cleveland State recruit Patrick Luth (82) and junior Grant “G-Money” Morgan (84) also scored for Medina, which has placed third (2008; 318), third (2009; 316), first (2010; 306), fourth (2011; 306) and second (Wednesday) during its record-smashing run that is unmatched among D-I public schools in Northeast Ohio.
Wednesday’s performance was spearheaded behind a new player stepping up after Luth won the NOC Tournament and Morgan took medalist at sectionals.
This time, it was Koch. The vibrant 5-foot-11, 135-pounder was third on the team with a 41 at the turn, but caught fire with a sparkling 37 on the much more difficult back nine.
Next week, he will join older brothers Josh (2007) and Bobby (2009-11) as family members to don the Medina uniform at state.
“I hit a bad chip on (No. 16) and got a little angry, but I came back strong,” Koch said of the only hiccup down the stretch — a double bogey. “I piped a couple drives on 17 and 18 and finished par, par into the wind. It was a big confidence booster.”
Sherman also came through in the biggest moment of the season. The long-haired, hat-rocking senior posted a 37 on the front nine — only Kent State recruits Ian Holt of Stow (35) and Chase Johnson of Walsh Jesuit (34) were better — then battled through wicked 20 mph wind, long delays and thick rough on the back for a 43.
It marked the third consecutive year Sherman placed in Medina’s top three on this stage.
“I feel like we have a big bulls-eye on our backs since we’ve gone (to state) every year since I’ve been a freshman,” Sherman said. “People want to knock us out. They’re all aiming for us.
“It’s my senior year and I don’t have another chance to go to state, so it’s great to go this year with these guys. It’s fun.”
Things didn’t go as well for Brunswick (344; T-10th) and Wadsworth (348; 12th).
Junior Jared Toom (84) led the Blue Devils, who were making their first district appearance since 2008, while Tim Monroe (86), Justin Roth (87) and David Reiter (87) capped the scoring.
Competing in its first district in eight years, the Grizzlies were spearheaded by 83s from Ethan Reynolds and Ryan Salem. Tony Hogan added an 85 as Wadsworth finished 20 strokes out of a state berth.
“We were just trying to come in and play our best, really,” Reynolds said. “I kept on grinding. A couple good holes, a couple bad holes, but I managed to save a lot of pars and bogeys, which is good, but I felt I could have done a lot better.”
Highland’s Mark Komives ended a consistent season with an 83. The senior began his day slowly with a 45 on the back nine, but rebounded nicely with a 38 to leave his head hanging high.
“I wish I would have shot a little better, but the conditions were just brutal,” he said. “I can’t tell ya the last time I shot 45. It was wind, rain and the course played extremely tough. The greens were real quick.
“There were a lot of people who just gave up — there were a lot of high scores — but I said, ‘Well I might as well try to fight back a little bit.’ … All in all, I’m in the top 30 of the field, so it’s not a bad round.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HINCKLEY TWP. — Results from the Pine Hills Division I District at par-72 Pine Hills Golf Club:
Team standings (top four advance to Oct. 19-20 state tournament): 1. Walsh Jesuit 317, 2. Medina 324, 3. Aurora 326, 4. St. Edward 328, 5. GlenOak 338, 6. Brecksville 342, 6. North Canton Hoover 342, 6. St. Ignatius 342, 9. Uniontown Lake 343, 10. Brunswick 344, 10. Tallmadge 344, 12. Wadsworth 348, 13. Mentor Lake Catholic 352, 14. Stow 353, 15. Massillon Jackson 359, 16. University School 361, 17. Painesville Riverside 362, 18. Rocky River 362, 19. Padua 368, 20. Chardon 373.
Medina (324): Spencer Koch 78, Sean Sherman 80, Patrick Luth 82, Grant Morgan 84, Evan Schreck 85.
Brunswick (344): Jared Toom 84, Tim Monroe 86, Justin Roth 87, David Reiter 87, Howie Gross 90.
Wadsworth (348): Ethan Reynolds 83, Ryan Salem 83, Tony Hogan 85, Connor Sherrill 97, Nate Pound 101.
Other Medina County participant: Mark Komives (Highland) 83.
Medalist: Chase Johnson (WJ) 71. Individual qualifiers: Ian Holt (Stow) 76, Jake McBride (Lake) 76, Zach Mosholder (Tallmadge) 78, Matt McAdoo (Twinsburg) 79.