AVON LAKE, Ohio – A rough inward nine added up across four Pirate scorecards, and the result was a fifth-place finish in the Boys’ Golf Division I Northeast Ohio Sectional Tournament at Sweetbriar G.C. on Monday.
Needing a top-4 finish to advance in postseason play, Rocky River came up three strokes shy of moving on. The Pirates carded a four-man score of 340. Team scores of 308 (St. Ignatius), 321 (Strongsville), 325 (St. Edward) and 337 (Amherst) have those squads headed for district play at Pine Hills G.C. With their 340, the Pirates placed fifth and narrowly missed advancing, and that’s the second time in three years River has come up just short of more October golf: in 2016, Rocky River missed the fourth slot by one stroke. (A year ago, River’s Men of Swing earned a runner-up finish in the sectional event.)
“The course was playing tough today, and it affected all the teams out there,” said Head Coach David Hendrickson. “It is disappointing not to advance, but we’ve had so many positives this season. A lot of guys on varsity and JV made big strides with their games.”
On Monday, Hendickson’s charges got off to decent, albeit a bit uneven, starts over Sweetbriar’s par-72, 6,473-yard Legacy Course in mild autumn conditions. Sophomore Will Bennett chipped in for birdie on the 375-yard, par-4 first hole. Bennett then posted another red number when he rolled a 30-footer into the cup on the 522-yard, par-5 fifth. A few miscues over the rest of the front lifted Bennett’s score to a 39 for the outward nine. Junior Mac Milenius scrambled his way to six pars and a 40 on the front. Sophomore Matthew McDonald rebounded after a double on No. 1 to record six pars en route to a front-nine 40.
But the inward nine at Legacy – with its wooded landscape of wetlands and ponds – would win the battles on the back.
McDonald’s resilient 40 got tangled up in a 40-47—87. Milenius would fire a 46 on the back to card an 86 for the round. Bennett needed a nifty birdie on No. 17 to preserve a 39-43—82. Only Mylett – with a 41 on the second nine – would stave off an afternoon slip down the standings in the 16-team, 80-man field.
Bennett’s birdie on No. 17 did figure to be important, however, as he advances to the Oct. 8 District Tournament at Pine Hills G.C. as one of four at-large qualifiers. He’ll have a shot at qualifying for the Division I State Championship Tournament, to be contested Oct. 19-20 at the Ohio State University Scarlet Course in Columbus.
“I’m proud of all the guys for their efforts,” said Hendrickson, “and as a team, we are all happy for Will.”
# # # river # # #