NORTON — Higher expectations lead to higher stakes, and the Brunswick boys golf team wasn’t thrilled Wednesday to win the Barberton Brookside Division I Sectional.
Unaware their 318 was going to hold up as the final groups trickled in at Barberton Brookside Country Club, the Blue Devils hung their heads and went over the what-ifs. While Jared Toom was relatively satisfied with his 4-over-par 76, Tim Monroe (78) and Justin Roth (80) fumed over their poor finishes and Howie Gross (84) tried to sarcastically shake off a bizarre quintuple-bogey on No. 17.
Frustration finally turned to joy when Brunswick realized it had taken gold at a sectional for the first time in the program’s 50-year history — most notably when Monroe playfully put the team’s chatterbox, Gross, in a headlock.
The smiles weren’t because of the trophy. They were because the true goal of the state tournament remains viable.
“Not really, as long as we made it through to districts,” Toom said when asked if the sectional title was important to the team. “A district title would mean a lot, but we’d have to shoot incredible.”
Brunswick will be joined at next week’s Pine Hills District by Highland (322), which was led by Ryan Scherler’s runner-up medalist 75, and Wadsworth’s Connor Sherrill (77).
Medina (327) had its string of 10 consecutive district appearances snapped when Hoban came in with a surprisingly low 324 and Revere shot 326. Bees junior Evan Schreck (79) then lost a three-way playoff for the final individual position.
The Blue Devils simply held on to win their fourth tournament of the season after making the turn with a sparkling 153. Monroe and Roth will be intent on atoning for hiccups over the final four holes, and Gross will try to forget being penalized two strokes for playing a Tallmadge ball because it had “Blue Devils” stamped in blue.
“I’m honestly not sure why we’re so mad,” Toom said. “The course isn’t that hard, so I’m sure they expected themselves to play a little bit better.”
Playing alongside Brunswick, Medina and Tallmadge, Highland got sweet revenge after losing a fifth-man tiebreaker to Wadsworth a year ago. The Hornets were paced by their solid combination of Scherler, sophomore Chad Dubiel (79) and junior Andy Grayson (81), while sophomore Andrew Klafczynski capped the scoring with an 87.
It marks the second time in three years Highland has qualified for districts. This time, however, its home course is Pine Hills.
“Our expectations were high for this tournament, so we got it done,” Scherler said. “I got up and down a lot and made putts when I needed to. I didn’t get into too much trouble.”
Sherrill put the finishing touches on his home career by posting another solid score. The senior was 3 over on the front and 2 over on the back to end the year with a 39.6 nine-hole average at Brookside.
“It feels good. It was a good round today,” he said. “My putter was going good. I had two three-putts, so that was the worst part, but my iron game was really solid and my wedges were really close on a lot of holes.”
Heartbreak was the word of the day for Medina, which would have won a rare scorecard tiebreaker against Revere — both teams had fifth-score 85s — had it made up one stroke.
The Bees, who also received respectable scores from Grant Morgan (81) and Andrew DeLaat (82), instead had to settle for cheering Schreck during a three-way playoff with Wooster freshman Anthony Panepento and Cuyahoga Falls’ Erik Hartman.
Course officials elected to use the relatively easy 355-yard fifth hole due to its proximity to the clubhouse. Hartman was the lone player to find the fairway, but all three players reached the green in regulation.
Hartman and Panepento were pin-high 15 feet away, while Schreck flew his approach a tad long. Schreck then missed a wicked-fast 20-footer inches left and Hartman wasn’t close, allowing Panepento to calmly drain his putt after asking Schreck to move his ball marker.
Schreck was visibly disappointed, but took solace in losing to a birdie.
“I thought we had it down the stretch, but it turned out we didn’t,” he said. “This type of thing happens — it’s what golf is — and next year’s a new year.
“Sitting at the tee they picked for the playoff hole, you had to figure birdie was probably going to be the score on that hole. I gave it my best try — I thought my birdie putt had a chance — but it was just a little off. Congratulations to (Panepento) for making the putt.”
Behind the efforts of Sherrill and suddenly red-hot freshman Justin Vaughan (81), Wadsworth (329) finished sixth.
Jack Gerber’s 84 helped Cloverleaf (360) take 11th, while Collin Miller’s 80 led Buckeye (369) to 12th.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.