NORTON — Sam Thies didn’t mince words. The Medina boys golf team has unfinished business.
Led by the senior’s career round, the Bees edged Highland by three strokes to win the Medina County Tournament at picture-perfect Barberton Brookside Country Club.
Legendary coach Jeanne Pritchard’s team finished second in the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division for only the second time since it was formed in 2007 and saw its five-year run of Division I state tournament appearances end in stunning fashion at sectionals last season on the par-72 layout.
Medina got a small taste of revenge Wednesday morning with a well-balanced 313 that was four strokes better than least season’s best 18-hole score.
“We’re especially motivated since there are five seniors on this team,” Thies said. “The only goal is states. There is nothing acceptable less than that.”
Thies was low man with a 4-over-par 76 — an eye-popping 10 strokes lower than his previous best — but fellow returning starters Tyler Grabowski (78), Andrew DeLaat (79) and Evan Schreck (80) weren’t far behind on the 6,587-yard track.
Though the Hornets made a serious run behind personal-best 73s from Andy Grayson and Chad Dubiel, Medina’s depth proved superior, as Joe Kerrigan’s 81 was the eighth-lowest score of the event but didn’t factor into the team total.
“It was a good start to the season to get us rolling,” Thies said. “We’ve got some big tournaments coming up, so we’ll have a little bit of confidence going in.
“I had a few big saves and made some ridiculous pars. I got a few birdies down the stretch that got me into it. Midway through the round I was playing really well.”
Grayson and Dubiel provided the other storyline with a rare one-hole playoff between teammates.
Highland’s unquestioned leaders compiled 36s on the front and 37s on the back and teed off on the par-3 No. 9 to decide medalist as the final groups trickled their way toward the clubhouse.
Grayson stuck his approach on the 191-yard hole within 15 feet and Dubiel clipped a greenside tree. Dubiel came within inches of holing a miraculous flop shot for birdie, but Grayson put an exclamation point on the tournament by drilling his putt.
The reaction was a la Tiger Woods with a swinging underhand fist pump that drew chuckles from his on-looking teammates.
“We actually had a playoff (Tuesday) to determine who would play No. 1 and we tied,” said Grayson, who was disappointed after missing three 3-foot putts. “It’s fun. I like playing playoffs.”
Wadsworth was a distant third with a 333 on its home course. Sophomore Justin Vaughan shot a career-low 79 to lead the charge, while lone senior Josh Groves and junior Alex Covert chipped in 83s.
The overall performance was what the relatively inexperienced Grizzlies were looking for heading into the Suburban League Preseason Tournament today at Good Park Golf Course.
“I think we did well,” Vaughan said. “I am expecting good rounds from us (today) at Good Park and I expect us to improve throughout the year.”
Cloverleaf (354) was fifth behind Greg Briggs’ 83, while Brunswick, which lost all six starters from its undefeated 2013 team, shot 361 behind freshman Max Toom’s 87.
Clay Roessler’s 84 helped Highland win the junior varsity portion by six strokes over Medina, which was paced by Hunter Churchman’s 82.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.