NORWALK — A two-year streak was on the line, but the Columbia boys golf team never had a doubt.
Jacob Simon, the fourth golfer on the Raiders’ squad, carded a 5-over-par 76 to keep his team’s unbeaten streak in Patriot Athletic Conference action alive.
Columbia edged Buckeye 347-348 Thursday to win the PAC championships at par-71 Eagle Creek.
Simon knew early that he was going to have a big day.
“When I got off the bus I really felt good, felt like I was in a zone,” he said.
Once play began it didn’t take long for Simon to take control. He hit a close approach on the par-4 fourth hole and eventually tapped in for a par.
“It started on the fourth hole and I parred out from there,” Simon said. “My goal was to par everything and I was hitting everything well. I was hitting everything well and putting … I had four one-putts. I think I hit every green in regulation and was able to hit my putts.”
The one-stroke victory clinched the second consecutive PAC title for the senior-laden Raiders.
“It’s not like we’ve been completely dominant, we’ve had a lot of close matches,” Columbia coach Chuck Sincel said. “It just seems like someone always steps up and we always end up winning. It could be any of the six. … We’ve used scores from all six of our guys at one time or another throughout the year.
“Every match someone you don’t expect steps up and helps you out. Today, who would have thought my fourth guy would have shot a 76 and be medalist in the tournament?”
Simon finished three strokes ahead of Fairview’s Tim Straka, who was later named the 2012 PAC player of the year. Simon joined teammates Zach Stopper and Jacob Miller in earning first-team all-conference accolades.
“I love my teammates,” Simon said. “We have five seniors that have been playing golf together ever since we were little kids. We’re like a family and we’re all committed to getting better and winning. Two straight years without a conference loss is pretty sweet.”
It took a strong effort from Simon during the championship tournament to end up on the first team.
“We do a thing called PAC points throughout the year, where you earn points for each match,” Sincel said. “He only had seven before today, and by being medalist he earned 16. That vaulted him right up to the middle of the first team.”
The five Columbia seniors have been playing on the course together ever since they were in middle school. But one of them, Stopper, the anchor of the squad, almost didn’t play with his friends in high school. He chose to spend his first two high school years at Parma Padua before transferring back for his junior year.
“It meant a lot when he came back,” Simon said of Stopper. “He lives in Columbia and played basketball on a team with me. When I heard he was coming back I was really happy. When he first went to Padua we pestered him pretty hard, and he just didn’t like it there. All of his friends are here, so he came back to Columbia. It was a great thing. I think it made him better as a golfer and made us better playing with him.”
After the match, Sincel was named the PAC coach of the year. Even though he said he was “honored” to win the award, he gave all the credit to his kids.
“It’s a team thing,” he said. “These guys have not lost a conference match in two years and they have only lost one match overall in those two years. This is kind of an award for them more than it is for me. It’s an honor, but it’s more of a reflection of what they have done.”
Top 10: 1. Jacob Simon (Columbia) 76, 2. Tim Straka (Fairview) 79, 3. Kyle DiCapua (Lutheran West) 82, 4. Colin Miller (Buckeye) 84, 5. John Riley (Fairview) 86, 6. Tyler Bogus (Buckeye) 86, 7. Brandon Palmer (Firelands) 87, 8. Zach Stopper (Columbia) 87, 9. Robert Konstan (Lutheran West) 87, 10. Bradey Clanin (Keystone) 88.
Team Standings: Columbia 347, Buckeye 348, Lutheran West 351, Keystone 359, Fairview 373, Firelands 392, Wellington 403, Brooklyn 436, Black River 448.
2012 All-Presidents Athletic Conference Team: First team – Kyle DiCapua (Lutheran West), Zach Stopper (Columbia), Tyler Bogus (Buckeye), Colin Miller (Buckeye), Jacob Simon (Columbia), Jacob Miller (Columbia). Second team – Robert Konstan (Lutheran West), John Riley (Fairview), Caleb Petersen (Firelands), Bradey Clanin (Keystone), Mark Anderson (Brooklyn), Corey Hayden (Buckeye). Honorable Mention – Eli Benko (Keystone), Kevin Scott (Wellington), Brandon Palmer (Firelands), Tyler Cain (Fairview), Brad Blaine (Brooklyn), Chris Vogt (Buckeye).
Player of the year: Tim Straka (Fairview)
Coach of the year: Chuck Sincel (Columbia)
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or email@example.com.