HOWARD — The Centerburg Trojans knew winning the Mid-Buckeye Conference golf title was a long shot, but they didn’t let it stop them Thursday at Apple Valley Golf Course. The Trojans posted three scores under 80 and beat out the Johnstown Johnnies in the second league match with a 328. Johnstown posted a 332, and Utica carded a 335 for third. With the second-place finish, Johnstown also wrapped up the league title.
“I am very happy,” said Centerburg coach Nathan Altizer. “Our goal coming in was to win, and we ended up finishing second in the conference. We knew the only shot we had was to win today, and we took care of our own destiny. The guys shot well; the top three guys shot real well. It was a good score for all of them.”
Loudonville took fourth overall with a 346; East Knox finished fifth, just one stroke ahead of Danville (366-367); Northridge was seventh at 377; and Fredericktown shot a 419 for eighth.
“We’re always happy to win a conference title,” said Johnstown coach Chris Carlisle. “Under the circumstances, we had a little pressure. I think the guys were trying to validate that we were the best team in the conference, and probably put a little extra pressure on themselves. It is kind of bittersweet. We didn’t win the tournament, but we did what we had to win the conference. That’s what it is all about.
“We’ve won four out of the last six (MBC titles), but I think this is a big accomplishment for this year’s group because last year we finished fourth,” added Carlisle. “I don’t think they had any high expectations to win it, although I thought we were as good as any of the four teams. Centerburg proved that it was the best team today.”
The race for medalist honors also decided the conference’s top player on Thursday. Three players were within striking distance of claiming the Player of the Year honor — Centerburg’s Garrison Myles, Johnstown’s Cody Green and Loudonville’s Matt Gwin, who earned the medalist spot at the first MBC match. All three were paired together, along with Utica’s Joe Metzger, and none of them disappointed. In the end, Myles, who was behind by three points coming in, took medalist honors on the day, shooting a 76 (39-37). Gwin fired a 78 (39-39), and Green an 80 (40-40). Metzger, who was fourth in the player standings, led Utica with an 82 (42-40).
“I played really well,” Myles said. “I hit a lot of good shots, and it was working for me. The course was in great shape so I couldn’t complain about that. ... I know the course pretty well so I was pretty comfortable.”
Even with the win, however, Myles was coming up short in the conference standings. That was until Utica No. 3 player, Austin Neff, came into the clubhouse with a 77 (37-40) and knocked Gwin to third. That gave Myles enough points to surpass Gwin for the top honor.
“This feels good,” said Myles. “ I was just trying to play my best. I knew what (the other three players) were doing, but I was trying not to worry about what they were up to.”
“He has been able to do that before and he’s proven he can rise up,” said Altizer. “He was in a position where he had to finish first and then hope that things would go the way they did. It is good for Garrison, but unfortunate for Matt. He is a great golfer, and he deserved it as much as Garrison did, so did Cody Green for that matter. At the beginning of the year, it was a toss-up between those three, and at the end is came down to those three.”
Myles’ 39 on the front nine put him in the middle of the pack when he made the turn, but his 37 was tops and earned him the victory.
“Hole No. 7 gave me problems,” Myles said. “I took a double bogey, which really killed me. I recovered pretty well, so I was pretty happy.”
For the Trojans, Thursday’s round showed marked improvement from the first MBC match. In mid-August, Centerburg finished in fourth after tying Utica with a 336. Utica took third on the fifth man score. In addition to Myles’ strong round, Troy Lemke carded a 79 (38-41); Nich Pitzer shot an 80 (39-41); and sixth-man Cole Metcalf fired a 93 (47-46). The scores of Austin Garber (47-51—98) and Fillip Hord (47-59—106) were thrown out.
“We’ve made quite a bit of improvement,” Altizer said. “At the beginning of the year, getting a fourth score was tough for us, but Austin has been playing well lately. Unfortunately he didn’t have the best of days today. Cole stepped up coming in there. I’m sure he is not really happy with his final score, but he did what he had to do to help us win. It is a big learning experience. Hopefully we can build on this going into the sectional tournament.”
Myles said, “We’ve been playing really well toward the end of the season. We started out with a little struggle, but lately, we’ve been playing pretty good. ... We’ve come a long way. When we started, we were really inconsistent.”