LAGRANGE — After the bad weather was gone, the Elyria golf team turned it on.
Playing under what head coach Jim Kistler called “ideal conditions” at Grey Hawk Golf Club, senior Kevin Koepp’s 78 led the Pioneers to a third-place finish at the Grey Hawk Invitational.
Brunswick captured first place with a 317, followed by Rocky River at 323 and Elyria at 325. Koepp finished just two strokes behind medalist Tim Monroe from Brunswick, who carded a 76. Senior Billy Yrad added an 80 for the Pioneers, who had to shut it down for over an hour when bad weather delayed the tournament.
“We handled it well,” Kistler said of the rain delay. “It wasn’t like we had a unique situation, all the players had to pick up after four or five holes and come back in, not knowing if we were going back out. But they stayed focused as best as you can expect from a high school student waiting out the weather.”
Grey Hawk is a links-type course that usually features a challenging wind on every hole. This was not the case after the delay.
“I think all the players were somewhat fortunate,” Kistler said. “You can usually depend on strong winds, which really makes a links-type of course a difficult track. After the front passed through we really had nice, calm weather with zero wind out there. I think that was a scoring advantage for everyone.”
A lack of wind was not the only thing that helped the golfers.
“Another thing about Grey Hawk, it seems like every hole there is out-of-bounds on the left-hand side,” Kistler explained. “Errant shots that went a little left or right were not rolling out as far as they normally would, so some balls were kept in play that usually would have been a little more problematic.”
This is what Kistler hopes will be a season of redemption for Koepp, whose junior year ended in heartbreak.
“Kevin was very close to qualifying out of sectionals last year, but had a disappointing finish on the last couple of holes. He missed it by just a shot or two,” Kistler said. “This year he is really focused on what he has to do, so when he gets to sectional play he will have a chance to advance. His focus, as it always has been, is to gain some consistency, get better, use good course management and peak at the right time. As a senior he really focused on getting past the sectional level, if not as a team then as an individual.”
As far as goals are concerned, Brunswick coach Jonathan Laube, who saw his Blue Devils claim their second invitational tournament victory in as many days, has a specific one for his junior-laden squad.
“Our goal is to get to Columbus,” Laube said. “Brunswick has never taken a team to Columbus. We’ve taken a couple of individuals, but never a team. That’s our goal…we want to be the first team in Brunswick history to get to Columbus.”
It was also the second time in as many days the medalist for the tournament carried a blue and white Brunswick bag. Monday, at Brunswick’s own Tee-Off Tournament at Pine Hills, junior Justin Roth medaled. Yesterday it was junior Tom Monroe while Roth finished third at 77 after losing a tiebreaker to Rocky River’s Sam Sheehan.
Like the Pioneers, the weather delay didn’t bother Brunswick.
“You have to keep your focus,” Monroe said. “You can’t let that bother you.”
When play resumed, Roth thought he had an advantage over most of the field. The rain significantly softened up the course, meaning those golfers with power had an edge.
“The greens were softer. Also, for a longer hitter like me, the weather helped. Where someone like Justin (Roth) needs a little roll I can kind of just fly the ball around and put it where I want it. That’s an advantage.”
Laube thinks his team winning two straight tournaments will lead to greater things…especially on the heels of a very busy summer for his golfers.
“They are all a lot more mature than they were last year,” he said. “Last year they came out and looked like deer in headlights…they really had no clue what was going on. I try to keep them focused on the golf and not really worried too much about their score. I wanted them to see what the tournaments are like and what the pressure is like. This year they all played in a lot of summer tournaments, so they have that experience. Coming out today, they were ready to go.”
Individual results: 1. Tim Monroe (Brunswick) 76, 2. Sam Sheehan (Rocky River) 77, 3. Justin Roth (Brunswick) 77.
Team results: 1. Brunswick 317, 2. Rocky River 323, 3. Elyria 325, 4. Avon 329, 5. Columbia 341, 6. Midview 349, 7. Ravenna 350, 8. Lutheran West 350, 9. Buckeye 366, 10. Lakewood 367, 11. Fairview 371, 12. Vermilion 372, 13. Keystone 374, 14. North Ridgeville 380, 15. Firelands 381, 16. Bay 391, 17. Brooklyn 418, 18. Black River 477, 19. Wellington 515.