LORAIN — It was a three-way fight to the finish Wednesday at the Lorain High Titan Invitational at FoxCreek Golf and Racquet Club.
Behind a 5-over 76 from junior Ryan Messer, Elyria pulled out a one-stroke win over Avon for the team title, defeating the Eagles 318-319. Avon Lake, even with its top golfers competing in and winning the North Olmsted Invitational, finished third at 320.
Although Messer’s round was the third-best score in the 16-team event, he left the course feeling he could have done better.
“I started out well but my putting was terrible,” Messer said. “I had a couple of three-putts and I missed a one-foot putt at 9. Thankfully, I hit my irons well. That’s what saved the round.”
Elyria coach Jim Kistler said the Pioneers hit the driving range and practice greens at Forest Hills on Tuesday evening after a disappointing ninth-place finish at the Grey Hawk Invitational.
That extra work paid dividends Wednesday.
“It’s early in the season and I hope this can be a springboard for us,” Kistler said. “It was a big positive to come out and win this event because the team was upset with the way we performed earlier this week.”
The Pioneers were amazingly consistent as junior Kevin Koepp shot 79, Roman King — a district qualifier last year — shot 81 and senior Ryan Haddox had 82.
“The challenge in high school golf is to get four good scores,” Kistler said. “Last year we were fortunate in that we had six guys who could consistently post low scores. This year we’re still trying to solidify our fourth and fifth scores.”
The fact Messer thinks there’s room for improvement in his game should strike fear into the hearts of Elyria’s future opponents.
“Most of my problems today were mental, missing short putts and things like that,” he said. “I think I could have shot par today. I just need to work more on keeping my head in the game.”
Avon was one stroke short of winning its second tournament in as many days. Joe Clifton led the way with a 78, while Danny Kelley and Preston Olsen had 80s.
Avon Lake also had a pair of golfers shoot in the 70s: Hunter Tharp (76) and Grant Harley (78).
For the second tournament in a row, a Bay Rocket took home medalist honors. Wednesday it was Jack Eifel with a 3-over 74.
Firelands senior Eric Lawson tied his career-low with a 75 to lead Lorain County golfers.
“I was really driving the ball well today,” said Lawson, who estimated he was hitting it between 260 and 270 yards off the tee on average.
TEAM STANDINGS: Elyria 318, Avon 319, Avon Lake 320, Bay 330, Midview 334, Columbia 343, Firelands 358, Wellington 364, Lorain 368, Keystone 369, Fairview 376, Vermilion 380, Shaker 418, Open Door 426. (No team scores for Brooklyn and Sandusky.)
TOP INDIVIDUALS: Jack Eifel (Bay) 74, Eric Lawson (Firelands) 75, Tim Straka (Fairview) 76, Ryan Messer (Elyria) 76, Hunter Tharp (Avon Lake) 76, Zach Stopper (Columbia) 76, Freddie Senghas (Wellington) 76, Grant Hurley (Avon Lake) 78, Kevin Koepp (Elyria) 79, Dominic Szpak (Midview) 79.
LORAIN COUNTY TEAMS
ELYRIA (318): Ryan Messer 76, Kevin Koepp 79, Roman King 81, Ryan Haddox 82, Billy Yrad 87.
AVON (319): Preston Olsen 80, Ryan Sikora 86, Danny Kelley 80, Sammy Stepchuk 81, Joe Clifton 78.
AVON LAKE (320): Hunter Tharp 76, Grant Hurley 78, Matt Morrisson 83, Adam Drapcho 83, Josh Currie 90.
MIDVIEW (334): Dominic Szpak 79, Zack Johnson 80, Jason Pickering 89, Bret Gerbec 91, Kyle Warner 86.
COLUMBIA (343): Zach Stopper 76, Jacob Miller 92, Mike Hershey 98, Matt Schofield 85, Jacob Simon 90.
FIRELANDS (358): Eric Lawson 75, Matt Baker 85, Caleb Peterson 94, Mitch Hildebrandt 104, Nick Gulish 105.
WELLINGTON (364): Freddy Senghas 76, Dylan Barris 89, Billy Kinzel DQ, Keith Finkel 99, Andrew Fahler 100.
LORAIN (368): Connor Anderson 84, Alex Tomazic 92, Jordan Antus 90, Jacob Thacker 102.
KEYSTONE (369): Brandon Osborne 95, Scott Wolfe 80, Ryan Voelker 88, Caleb Schillace 106, Wes Lincecome 110.
VERMILION (380): Nate Annable 84, Anthony Willard 105, Gabe Skahen 84, Ricky Tishma 110, Aaron Skahen 107.
OPEN DOOR (426): Nick Kerecz 99, Luke Lazar 117, Ariel Manning 130, Alice Clark 180, Alex Lamb 80.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.