LAKE TWP. — The time has come to clear room for a new banner in the Brunswick High gymnasium.
The Blue Devils boys golf team completed a historic journey Monday at the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division Tournament, as it won the hotly contested event with a 323 to secure the overall championship.
The crown is Brunswick’s first since beating Wadsworth, Cloverleaf and Orrville for the Chippewa Conference title in 1965 — the same year Gary Player won the U.S. Open, Australian legend Peter Thomson secured his fifth British Open and Dave Marr outlasted Masters winner Jack Nicklaus at the PGA Championship.
“It’s really cool because we get to put a banner in our gym,” senior Tim Monroe said. “It’s one of the only sports without one. We have the talent to do it. It’s cool that this year we actually stepped up and did it.”
The veterans carried the load for coach Jonathan Laube’s unit. Breakout star Jared Toom led the way with an 8-over-par 79 at Congress Lake Golf Club, Monroe and Justin Roth added 80s and fellow 12th-grader Howie Gross shot 84 to help the Blue Devils outlast Hudson (327) and three-time defending champion Medina (329).
Entering the morning a heavy favorite, Brunswick failed to yield against a 117-year-old layout that features wildly sloped greens and a 72.7 rating that is higher than Barberton Brookside Country Club and Pine Hills Golf Club — the sites of the Division I sectional and district tournaments.
Ever the perfectionist, Toom was yearning for more.
“I don’t think any of us were happy. I know I wasn’t happy with my score,” said Toom, who joined Monroe, Roth and Gross on the all-division team. “We’re just glad we finally got a conference title.”
Monroe had a different take.
“It’s a decent score because the (overcast) weather is bad, the ball is not going anywhere — it’s not compressing — and the course always plays hard,” he said. “The greens are impossible, so, yeah, I like 323.”
Brunswick won a NOC plaque by taking its 10 division matches by an average of 12.4 strokes. Dominating one of the deepest conferences in the area has given the Blue Devils a big confidence boost moving forward.
Another thing working in their favor is the fact Gross, Eric Bator and Jake Perdok have all came through at key times. Gross’ 37 keyed a midseason victory over Stow, Bator’s 34 helped Brunswick hold off North Royalton and Perdok tied Stow megastar, division MVP and Kent State recruit Ian Holt for medalist honors in a match two weeks ago.
Team-saving performances from those three weren’t necessary Monday, but Brunswick knows depth can push it over the top over the next three weeks, when it will attempt to qualify for its first state tournament.
“Usually three of our top four will have a solid score,” Monroe said. “One or two (more) usually come up and give us a chance to win. It’s impressive.”
Medina (329) was third at the tournament but still held on to second place in the final standings thanks to a 7-3 record in the regular season.
The Bees, who returned just two starters and have only one senior in Grant Morgan, received a very solid 77 from junior Andrew DeLaat and respectable 83s from Morgan and junior Evan Schreck. All three made the all-division team.
While Medina is aware its odds of reaching state are steep — Northeast Ohio is stacked with St. Ignatius, St. Edward, Walsh Jesuit, Brunswick and Aurora leading the way — the performance was a step in the right direction as the Bees continue to learn on the fly.
“This course is definitely a good course, definitely a hard course,” DeLaat said. “There a lot of big trees and fairways, you have to hit them. The scores weren’t that bad. They were solid.
“We really wanted it. After losing to Brunswick in two matches, we really wanted to win the tournament and finally beat them, but we came up just a little bit short.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.