Story by Brad Bournival
Bad news for the Northeast Ohio Conference: Medina's girls golf team isn't missing a beat despite losing state qualifier Mindy Herrick, who transferred to a school in Florida, and Amanda Rom, who graduated.
With the emergence of freshman Alyssa Drehs, the Northern Ohio PGA Junior Tour Player of the Year in the 13-15 age group, the Bees have picked up right where they left off.
The squad has logged third-place finishes in the Lady Rider, Medina, Ashland and Walsh Jesuit Invitationals. It also finished second at the Padua Invitational.
By putting itself in one meatgrinder after another, Medina has readied itself to defend its NOC Valley title for the third season in a row. Drehs has led the team in scoring in two of the five tournaments and finished second three times at the Lady Rider Invitational, Ashland Invitational and Walsh Invitational.
The freshman is averaging 83.4 and has shot in the 70s twice. Throw out a 91 at the Walsh Invitational, and two strokes come off Drehs' average.
"She does have the poise and the mental toughness to play the game," Bees coach Mickey McGrath said. "She's pretty hard on herself, so I don't have to be. She just really gives it her all."
Not to be outdone is Megan Pollock, who has logged team-best finishes at the Lady Rider, Ashland and Walsh Invitationals. The senior has a team-best 77 this season. That one coming at the Ashland Invitational.
Pollock is averaging 84.0 as the team readies for NOC action.
Medina opened league play this week with a win over Strongsville at Medina Country Club. Pollock shot a one-over par 36 at Medina Country Club and was followed by Nikki Sherman (39) and Drehs (40).
"I'm thrilled," McGrath said. "They're very dedicated and hungry. We have five seniors and they want to end this year with a bang."
The big test will come Thursday when Medina entertains Hudson and Solon. The Explorers finished second last season by a stroke at the NOC Tournament, and were runners-up to the Bees in the preseason tournament this season.
Those hoping Westlake's runner-up finish last season at sectional found out real quick players like junior Patrick Steffen, a two-time medalist in 2013 and All-Southwestern Conference pick, Nick Wilson and Jules Blakely are ready for the next step.
Westlake edged Brecksville by a stroke at the North Olmsted Invitational as Steffen fired a 71 to finish fourth. To show their dominance, Wilson finished fifth with a 73 and Blakely was sixth with a 74 at the par-70 Springvale Golf Course in North Olmsted.
Proving the rounds weren't a fluke, the Demons finished second behind only Avon Lake at the Southwestern Conference preview. Wilson paced Westlake with a 75, beating Blakely on a tie-breaker. Steffen was two shots back with a 77 at the par-71 Eagle Creek Golf Club.
Titans towing the line
If early indications are anything, Berea-Midpark's boys golf team is definitely off on the right foot, especially from an individual standpoint.
The Titans opened the season by defending their title at the Green Wave Invitational. They were paced by Zach Stetz, who fired a 79 at the par-70 Briardale Greens Municipal Golf Course, and finished tied for second.
Not to be out done, Tyler Ellis took home medalist honors at the Southwestern Conference preview with a one-over 71 at Eagle Creek Golf Club. Ellis came back with a second-place finish in a SWC dual against Amherst, which Berea-Midpark won in a fifth-golfer tiebreaker. Ellis shot three-over 35 at Fox Creek Golf and Racquet Club.
Stetz figured in as his 42 snapped the tie with the Comets.
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