HURON — There were definite lessons to be learned from Avon Lake’s performance at Wednesday’s Division I boys sectional golf tournament.
Important, life-affirming lessons such as avoiding overconfidence and not giving up even when you think you’ve hit three balls out of bounds.
But the most important lesson learned might be this: Never, ever forget the doughnuts.
Avon Lake senior Andrew Lombardi made that mistake Wednesday and the Shoremen struggled … for them anyway … though the end result was still plenty sweet.
Led by Lombardi’s 8-over 79 and an 80 from No. 5 golfer Austin Kryc, the Shoremen shot 325 at Thunderbird Hills South to qualify for their fourth straight district tournament. Top golfer Brendan Aussem, who has a 73 average this season, came in with an 81 while Zach Sharb had 85 and Clay Sharb 89.
Four area players also advanced as individuals. Olmsted Falls’ Alex Torres led the way with a 76, while Amherst’s Mike Campana and Avon’s Joe Clifton shot 80s and North Ridgeville’s Matt Musci grabbed the final spot with an 81. Perkins’ Nate Foss was the other qualifier with an 80.
Ashland, which got a tournament-best 1-under 70 from Josh Brooks, won the team title with a 322. Bowling Green (323), Norwalk (328) and Lexington (332) also qualified. Avon (338) missed advancing by one spot.
But even though the Shoremen were just three shots out of first and a solid seven shots ahead of the final qualifier, there was the feeling that if they didn’t dodge a bullet, they may have ducked a BB at the very least.
This is, after all, a team that made state last year with four of the same players, has won five tournaments and went undefeated in winning the Southwestern Conference.
Asked if maybe a bad team breakfast was to blame, Lombardi had to fess up.
“We didn’t have any breakfast,” he said. “That was the problem. I forgot to bring the doughnuts.”
Of course, the fact they hadn’t had a competitive match since winning the SWC Tournament on Sept. 22 because of all the rain might have had something to do with their “off day.” Tough pin placements and a rough that hadn’t been cut in nine days were factors, as well, which was obvious by the high scores in general. Only nine golfers broke 80 and Brooks was the only one to go lower than 76.
“We’ve been sort of doing everything as a team all year, so we might as well go in the tank together,” said a joking Avon Lake coach Amy Manco, who wasn’t exactly happy but also couldn’t be too upset with a third-place finish and another trip to districts. “It says something about what a bad day is (for us).”
“One bad round,” said Aussem, who shot just his second round in the 80s all year. “We were due.”
The thing is, it could have been worse. Lombardi, who’s only had one round in the 80s, avoided a second when he found a bit of luck on the par-4 13th. After hitting his drive out of bounds left, Lombardi proceeded to hit two more that looked like they’d suffer the same fate. His fourth drive was in play, but he was staring at a huge number before he fortunately found his first provisional ball and salvaged a triple-bogey.
Lombardi actually shot just 1 over for 15 holes, but had two doubles to go with the triple. Kryc was also headed for an even better round before finishing bogey, bogey, double. Still, his contribution was critical.
“If you can get an 80 out of your 5 man every time you play, you’re going to win a lot of tournaments,” Manco said.
Now comes the district tournament next Thursday at Red Hawk Run in Findlay. A collective bad day won’t cut it there, especially when just two teams move on to state. Might there be a need to tinker with the mental approach as well as the golf swings?
“We were really overconfident,” Kryc said of the attitude coming into sectionals and an assessment shared by Aussem and Lombardi. “It’s kind of a reality check.”
Then again, Manco isn’t overly concerned about overconfidence.
“I think they’ve been overconfident all season,” she said. “And for good reason.”
No, she wasn’t talking about the doughnuts.
TEAM RESULTS (top five advance to district): Ashland 322, Bowling Green 323, Avon Lake 325, Norwalk 328, Lexington 332, Avon 338, Perkins 339, Elyria 343, Olmsted Falls 343, Amherst 344, North Ridgeville 346, Westlake 349, Midview 352, Madison Comprehensive 361, North Olmsted 367, Sandusky 394, Lorain 401, Mansfield Senior 412, Marion Harding 1,020.
INDIVIDUAL DISTRICT QUALIFIERS (top five not on a qualifying team): Alex Torres (Olmsted Falls), 76; Mike Campana (Amherst), 80; Joe Clifton (Avon), 80; Nate Foss (Perkins), 80; Matt Musci (North Ridgeville), 81.
- AVON LAKE (325): Brendan Aussem 81, Andrew Lombardi 79, Zach Sharb 85, Clay Sharb 89, Austin Kryc 80.
- AVON (338): Preston Olsen 86, Ryan Sikora 82, Danny Kelley 92, Mike Mooibroek 90, Joe Clifton 80.
- ELYRIA (343): Ryan Messer 90, Kevin Koepp 83, Roman King 89, Ryan Haddox 85, Billy Yrad 86.
- OLMSTED FALLS (343): Steve Johnson 91, Scott Lemin 91, Alex Torres 76, Brad Sevcik 99, Brian Jones 85.
- AMHERST (344): Mike Campana 80, Bob Greuter 88, Connor Morris 89, Matt Dadas 90, Matt Andrews 87.
- NORTH RIDGEVILLE (346): Christian Kelch 88, Matt Musci 81, Dennis Millgard 86, Garrett Orseno 91, Austin Rolfe 91.
- WESTLAKE (349): Gavin Lux 94, Connor Evans 82, Zack Crandall 85, Matt Hooper 112, Matt Leonard 88.
- MIDVIEW (352): Dominic Szpak 88, Zach Johnson 93, Brett Gerbec 84, Taylor Stephens 89, Ethan Large 91.
- NORTH OLMSTED (367): Patrick Needles 85, Alexander Arendec 85, Zachary Novak 94, Jonathan Nola 103, Brandon Fatsie 106.
- LORAIN (401): Connor Anderson 101, Jesse herda 93, Nathan Drabiak 125, Jacob Thacker 109, Alex Tomazic 98.
Contact Kevin Aprile at 329-7135 or email@example.com.