The Swanton Bulldog golf team opened the 2015 season with a very respectable fifth place finish in the 15-team Bulldog Invitational held at Valleywood Golf Course in Swanton on Monday. Senior Devin Jones fired a 79 to lead the Dogs and earn a spot on the all-tournament team. Mark Lair was second with an 84 and Sam Williams and Carter Swank each had an 86. Austin Luce carded a 90 and did not figure into the team’s scoring.
Swanton’s 335 total put them just six strokes behind the fourth place Lake Flyers (329) and 15 strokes behind the champion Rossford Bulldogs (320). The St. John Titans JV squad, coached by Swanton resident and Swanton Schools employee Julie Brown, finished a close runner up to Rossford with a 322 score.
Swanton’s impressive finish out of the gate bodes well for coach Eric Oakes’ team which will need strong performances from every golfer in all matches given their small five man squad. But Oakes is confident they will do well, relying on quality instead of quantity this season.
“With the seniors (Jones, Lair and Williams) with the experience they’ve got, I think we’ll be in the top four in the league,” said Oakes, commenting on his team’s 2015 prognosis. He is also expecting Jones and Lair to battle for the team’s and the NWOAL’s top spot all year. “Devin and Mark are right there together,” said Oakes. “If you look at last year, the medalists we had, half were from Mark and half were from Devin.”
And Bulldog youth will be served as well according to Oakes. “We have two freshmen (Swank and Luce) that have really impressed me so far,” he said. “They did a nice job on the course today when I watched them and they’re only going to get better.”
Delta was the only other Fulton County team in the competition and finished ninth with a stroke total of 366. Michael Thomas led the Panthers with an 86 with Drew Mattin right behind with an 88. Jay Vann shot a 91 and Brady Wymer had a 101. Tim Sonick and Chase Sandusky shot 102 and 104 respectively. Only the top four scores are considered in the team total.
Medalist honors for the tournament went to Casey Desmond of Rossford and Owen Johnson of Lake, each firing a low score of 76.
The Bulldogs also added a win over Otsego in a dual match on Tuesday. They will compete in the Paulding Panther Invitational today, and in a tri-match with Springfield and Otsego on Friday at Valleywood.
1. Rossford, 320; 2. St. John’s, 322; 3. Springfield, 328; 4. Lake, 329; 5. Swanton, 335; 6. Genoa, 336; 7. Liberty Center, 346; 8. Van Buren, 353; 9. Delta, 366; 10. Toledo Christian, 373; 11. Anthony Wayne, 378; 12. Woodmore, 380; 13. Montpelier, 390; 14. Otsego; 15. Cardinal Stritch.
Bill O’Connell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org