HINCKLEY TWP. — Moments after posing for a team picture against the Pine Hills Golf Club clubhouse, Brunswick’s Evan Gray held the Greater Cleveland Conference boys golf championship plaque over his head like Rafiki hoisting Simba in the Disney movie “The Lion King.”
The all-senior Blue Devils may have been the heavy preseason GCC favorites, but that didn’t make their second straight title any less satisfying, as Brunswick again showed off impressive depth Tuesday en route to winning the fourth and final GCC Tournament with a 310 that outpaced rival Medina (322) easily.
The league crown is only the fourth in school history (1965, 2013, ’16, ’17).
“I believe we’re the first team to win two conference championships, so it’s super awesome,” Gray said. “It’s really the first step in success that we really, really want this year. Obviously we’re all seniors and we’re all going to be gone next year, so this is the last year to really step up and try and get as far as we can in everything we do.”
Gray, who has a Medina County-best 37.5 average since Sept. 5, fired a 2-over-par 74 for the third time in four days to take medalist honors over teammate Matt Krivanek (77). Cameron MacLellan added a 79, while Preston Levandowski capped the scoring with an 80.
The Blue Devils were pushed throughout the season by the upstart, senior-less Bees. Brunswick took the first meeting 305-309 at Ellsworth Meadows on Aug. 15 and Medina countered 307-310 at Fowlers Mill one week later, but coach Chad Thompson’s veteran squad regrouped and won at Windmill Lakes on Sept. 13 with a 325. Medina (334) took third.
“They really gave us a run for our money,” Gray said.
That gave the Blue Devils a stranglehold with a 24-21 points advantage — the scoring system is 8-7-6-5-4-3-2 — meaning they only needed to finish fourth Tuesday for a championship share. That thought never entered anyone’s mind, however, especially considering the finale was on Brunswick’s home turf.
Krivanek proved to be the X-factor, scoring for the 15th time in 18 events after playing only 27 varsity holes over his first three seasons.
“It feels really good because we put a lot of work in this summer to try and improve from last year,” he said. “It finally paid off winning the conference. Now we’ve just got to keep it going at sectionals (Monday at Barberton Brookside Country Club).
“(My situation) is definitely unique because I didn’t expect to be in this position of shooting the scores that I have. Last year I was still on JV, but it’s been really fun to play varsity.”
Medina fell short of a 310 goal but had a small token of pride knowing it caught the Blue Devils by surprise. Three-year starter Colin McClowry was low man with a 78, followed by sophomores Blake Shienkaruk (80) and John Varley (81) and letterwinner Ian Dorman (83).
McClowry entered play leading the GCC Player of the Year race over Gray but was on the verge of losing after a rough seventh hole. However, the right-hander played the final 11 holes even to finish with his seventh round in the 70s this season.
GCC officials had yet to determine if McClowry was mathematically the player of the year using scores relative to course ratings, though Gray and McClowry were under the impression McClowry sewed it up.
“I knew that the back nine, to me, is easier than the front nine, so I just stayed as positive as possible,” McClowry said. “I said to myself, ‘I can do this.’ I hit a lot of greens. I hit seven on the back nine, so that really helped.
“I’m very happy and very excited (to likely win player of the year). … After those two rounds of 73s, I had a pretty good feeling I could do it. After today, I did the math and it came out that I was on top. I’m very happy.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HINCKLEY TWP. — Results from the fourth Greater Cleveland Conference Tournament at par-72 Pine Hills G.C.:
Overall standings: 1. Brunswick 31, 2. Medina 28, 3. Strongsville 21, 4. Solon 20, 5. Mentor 18, 6. Shaker Heights 14, 7. Elyria 8.
Tournament standings: 1. Brunswick 310, 2. Medina 322, 3. Mentor 325, 4. Solon 334, 5. Strongsville 336, 6. Shaker Heights 345, 7. Elyria 442.
Brunswick (310): Evan Gray 74, Matt Krivanek 77, Cameron MacLellan 79, Preston Levandowski 80, Jon Cappellazzo 81, Max Toom 83.
Medina (322): Colin McClowry 78, Blake Shienkaruk 80, John Varley 81, Ian Dorman 83, Caden Pittman 86, Mitch Furey 86.