MEDINA TWP. — No. 6 man Eric Bator stuck his final approach within 8 feet. As he lined up over his birdie putt, his Brunswick teammates held their breath.
When the right-to-left bender found the bottom of the cup Tuesday, a celebration ensued just off the ninth green at Bunker Hill Golf Course.
The Blue Devils had every reason to whoop it up after posting a 1-under-par 147 that crushed Medina (163) and Strongsville (168). Coach Jonathan Laube’s senior-laden group snapped the Bees’ 34-match Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division win streak and is in the driver’s seat for its first conference title since 1965.
“Everybody had to play well. It couldn’t have been just one person,” said senior Tim Monroe, who won medalist honors with a 2-under 35. “We all played fantastic. I’m just excited because we could play even better.”
Seniors Monroe, Justin Roth (36) and Jared Toom (36), arguably the most improved player in Medina County, broke par for Brunswick (5-0, 5-0), which tied the school nine-hole record set in 2004 at Ridgewood Golf Course. Bator capped the scoring with a 40.
Monroe and Toom led the early charge with birdies on two of their first three holes. The light-but-straight-hitting Roth was his normal steady self, and Bator closed strong after multiple players ahead of him flew the ninth green and lost their balls in the woods.
“It’s definitely big that we could all step up at the same time,” Toom said.
The victory was extra sweet because of history. The Bees have qualified for the last five Division I state tournaments, entered play with a 60-3 all-time record in the Valley Division and hadn’t lost a match since Sept. 24, 2009. They also were coming off back-to-back matches in the mid-150s, so the blowout came as a big surprise.
“Hat’s off to Brunswick, which played extremely well,” Medina coach Jeanne Pritchard said. “(Laube) has waited a long time for a team like this, and they showed today that they are very good and focused.
“It is too bad we couldn’t give them more of a match, but we exhibited again that we can’t do the little things that we need to do to compete at this level.”
While the Blue Devils are well-aware they are only halfway to officially dethroning Medina — experienced North Royalton is on tap Thursday — they weren’t shy about savoring the moment. They also appreciated the class the Bees showed with post-match handshakes that were filled with compliments.
“It was awesome to see the guys come through,” Roth said. “(Toom) has stepped up so much in the last year and he’s really helped out this season. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think we’d be where we’re at so far this year.
“I’m even more proud of Bator with what he’s done. He’s had a couple bad rounds, but he came through today and at the Medina County Tournament. They’re both really helping this year.”
The inexperienced Bees (4-1, 4-1), who featured four first-year starters, are not out of the division hunt with five matches and the conference tournament remaining, but were certainly disappointed after making major progress last week.
Medina was in danger of losing to the Mustangs (0-4, 0-4) until the bottom half of the lineup came through in spades. No. 5 man Joe Kerrigan tied Grant Morgan with a 40, while junior No. 6 Sean Gordon posted his second straight respectable round with a 41.
Sam Thies, who began the year on the junior varsity but has played well in recent matches, added a 42.
“We still have a lot to learn,” Kerrigan said. “We faced a big-time team today, and we just didn’t do what we really wanted to do. No one really played that good, but good for Brunswick and good for Strongsville. They played good. I really wish them the best of luck.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.