LaGRANGE, Ohio -- The Rocky River Pirates are the champions of the Great Lakes Conference for the sixth consecutive year. In perhaps the program's most dominant GLC conquest yet, River boasted four of the five top individual scores at Thursday's GLC Championship Tournament held at Grey Hawk Golf Club.
As a team, the Pirates posted a season-best score of 316. In this season of the COVID-19 pandemic, that four-man total gave the Swinging Corsairs a very much socially-distant margin of victory over second-place Bay (343) and eight other league foes.
"I'm proud of the guys and the way they built toward this," said Head Coach David Hendrickson. "This is a special team."
Senior Will Bennett found some positive momentum after a slow start and would go on to fire a 39-38--77 on the par-72, 6,240-yard layout at Grey Hawk. His 5-over score earned medalist honors and was the lead edge of a powerful Pirate sword on the picturesque early autumn day in LaGrange, Ohio. Fellow senior Hayden Weaver carded a 39-40--79 to finish as the runner-up in a 52-man field. A pair of Rocky River freshmen -- Luke Dietrich and Nick Tianello -- carded 8-over 80s to round out the impressive Pirate performance. Dietrich and Tianello finished in a three-way tie for third with Bay's Jack Nagoette.
Bennett was 2-over in his round before making a birdie on the 485-yard, par 5 fourth. He registered another red number by draining a downhill 20-footer on the par-4 eighth. The birdie at No. 8 got Bennett on a roll that had him just 2-over by the time he reached the tee at No. 16. He would bogey 16, 17, and 18 in capping off his 77.
Weaver birdied both par-5s on the inward nine (Nos. 10 and 14) on an 18-hole march to what marked his best score of the season. The veteran standout continued what has been a September surge: Weaver has averaged a fine 80.8 over 11 events this month.
Dietrich rolled in birdie putts on the par-4 third and par-3 11th. He has now clocked an 81-or better in three of his last four 18-hole rounds.
Tianello logged an impressive bounce-back in earning his 80 on Thursday. The River rookie carded a quadruple-bogey on No. 8. The rest of his round was rife with pars in a show of resolve and persistence noted by David Hendrickson: "It is very impressive that a freshman was able to put that behind him and not let it affect the rest of his round."
For a fifth year in a row, Hendrickson earned the GLC Coach of the Year Award for helming the circuit champion team.
Also competing Thursday were seniors Aidan (89) and Matthew McDonald (91).
Rocky River (22-3, 18-0 GLC) has won each of the league's six Boys' Golf championships since the Great Lakes Conference was launched in 2015. With Wednesday's performance at Grey Hawk, the Pirates closed out an undefeated 2020 conference season and they upped their all-time league record to 106-2 (.981).
Ninety-eight percent of the matches. One-hundred percent of the titles. Six and seven men strong for six straight years. In Pirate terminology, there's a word for that type of performance:
CANNON FIRE ...
WILL POWER: The GLC tabs honorees for conference awards based on season-long scoring in league events. With his medalist performance at Grey Hawk capping off a tremendous August and September, Will Bennett earned the GLC Most Valuable Player Award. Bennett was a three-time All-GLC First Teamer (finishers No. 2-8 in scoring) heading into this season. His overall 2020 stroke average is 81.0. ... Making the All-GLC First Team this season were Luke Dietrich, Aidan McDonald, Matthew McDonald, Nick Tianello, and Hayden Weaver. Matthew McDonald and Weaver have now twice been tabbed as All-GLC honorees. Seniors Nathan Robertson and John Snyder earned Honorable Mentions in 2020.
GOING LOW: River's 316 carded Thursday undercuts the team's previous low (317) which was earned in Saturday's St. Edward Invitational at Oberlin Country Club. In last year's GLC title event -- also held at Grey Hawk -- the Pirates fired a 332.
by Skip Snow
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