NORWALK — Three days ago, Midview needed its sixth man’s score just to beat Avon by a stroke in its final West Shore Conference dual meet of the season.
Anyone figuring that meant the defending champion Middies would be vulnerable at Thursday’s league tournament was sadly mistaken.
Led by sophomore Louis Elbert’s 1-over 72, the Middies fired a sizzling 306 at Eagle Creek Golf Course and coasted to a 15-stroke win. Avon and Rocky River tied for second at 321, but the Eagles got the runner-up nod on the strength of the fifth-man tiebreaker.
Two Middie seniors also shot in the 70s as Jay Overy, the team’s No. 1 player, tied for third with a 75 and Jared Linden came through with a 76 to tie for sixth.
Junior Mike Mercado’s 83 counted for the fourth score, but to show what kind of depth the Middies have this season, they would have won easily with any of their six scores as senior Ryan Dale and junior Brad Weaver both shot 84.
“I told them I wanted six guys in the 70s,” joked Midview coach Randy Camp, whose team went 13-1 in dual meets, its only loss coming against Vermilion. “But we had two in the low 70s. That’s pretty good.”
Just maybe not so surprising. Asked if he was a little amazed Midview won so easily, Vermilion senior Ian Suszko just laughed.
“No, not at all,” he said. “Not at all.”
Suszko took individual honors with a 1-under 70, making four birdies and three bogeys. Elbert was next, followed by Firelands sophomore Andrew Northeim (74).
“Overall, I played very well,” said Suszko, who needed just 29 putts, despite missing a 1-foot tap-in for par.
“It was in an aeration mark,” he said. “I didn’t think it would bother it, but it did.”
Suszko also bogeyed the par-5 18th when his second shot found the water or he might have really gone low.
“My one bad shot came at the wrong time,” he said.
There were plenty of good shots, too, of course. Like the bunker shot to a foot for birdie on the par-5 fifth, and the sand wedge chip shot to 6 feet that resulted in birdie at the par-5 11th. He also knocked his 80-yard approach shot to 8 feet and made birdie at No. 7, then dropped a 7-iron 10 feet left of a pin tucked on the right side at the par-3 16th. He rolled in the putt for his final birdie.
The win, and all the solid rounds he’s been playing lately, have Suszko excited about tournament time.
“I picked it up late in the season,” he said. “I started playing well at the right time.”
Playing well is something the Middies have been doing all year and Thursday was no exception as they shot their low 18 for the year on a course other than their home course, Brentwood.
While Overy shot right around his average, Elbert and Linden both turned in personal season lows.
Linden paid a visit to his instructor this week and tweaked a few things.
“Nothing major,” he said. “Just grip pressure. It was too tight. I just had to lighten it up.”
He was steady if not spectacular, rolling up 15 pars, a bogey and two doubles. Though he said he failed to cash in several birdies, he only used 26 putts for the round.
Elbert’s play might have been the most impressive and not just because of the score. Not only did he start his round with a triple bogey at 17, but he received awful news on the first hole when his sister text-messaged him that their grandmother had died.
He proceeded to birdie three of the next four holes.
“I don’t know,” he said when asked how he was able to summon the strength to do that. “It made me focus more.”
“We didn’t know what to do,” said Camp, who said Elbert had been with his grandmother, who had been sick for awhile, the night before. “We didn’t know whether he should quit or not. That was showing some toughness there.”
TEAM STANDINGS: 1. Midview 306, 2. Avon 321 (on fifth golfer’s score), 3. Rocky River 321, 4. Bay 325, 5. Firelands 326, 6. Vermilion 327, 7. Fairview 333, 8. North Ridgeville 348.
TOP INDIVIDUALS: 1. Ian Suszko (Vermilion), 70; 2. Louis Elbert (Midview), 72; 3. Andrew Northeim (Firelands) 74; T4. Jay Overy (Midview) and Brian Harpster (Rocky River), 75; T6. Jared Linden (Midview) and Logan May (Fairview), 76; 8. Mike Opstinick (Avon), 77; T9. Brad Meissner (Avon) and Chas Kennedy (Bay), 78; T11. Chas Veras (Bay) and Matt Gregory (Firelands), 79.