The Western Reserve Academy golf team posted a 10-win season, thanks in large part to the addition of three new members to the team.
The Pioneers blended newcomers Tim Ewers (junior), Adam Sneath (senior) and Tianhao (Barnabas) Wang (sophomore) with returning players Kevin Hoover (senior), a Hudson resident, Andrew Fazekash (senior), Hudson resident, Robbie Murray (junior), a Hudson resident and Miles Van Blarcum (junior), a Hudson resident, to post one of the best seasons in recent memory.
"Barnabas, Tim and Adam really changed the complexion of the team," said head coach Brand Closen. "They all had scoring averages under 41 and helped us have the lowest team average we have had in years.
"They really elevated the play of the whole group and took a lot of pressure off the other guys.
"With those three being out top three scorers, the fourth score swung thought Robbie, Miles, Andrew and Kevin and there were times when all four of them were fighting for that fourth scoring spot."
The season was highlighted by wins against Twinsburg, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and James A. Garfield of Garrettsville.
"We beat Twinsburg convincingly [158-171] and beat CVCA by seven strokes," Closen said. "Against Garrettsville, we shot a 156 and anytime you are under 160 as a high school team, that says a lot about your squad."
Ewers was named the recipient of the James O. Tavenner Most Valuable Player Award.
"Tim may be the best golfer we have had here in quite a while," Closen said. "He had the lowest average on the team at 38, he shot under par three times and he was the IPSL [Interstate Preparatory School League] medalist after shooting an even-par 72, five strokes better than the second-place finisher from Shady Side [Pa.]."
The Most Improved Player award went to Hoover.
"Kevin earned this award not only based on is improved play this year, but how far he has come over the four years he has been associated with the program," Closen said. "I had Kevin with me as a freshman on the C-squad team and every summer, Kevin worked on his game. He took lessons, he practiced and he improved. This year, we counted his score in half of the matches as Kevin made his game count and took his play seriously."
Fazekash, the team's captain, earned the William Borges Spirit Award.
"No one wanted to win more than Andrew," Closen said. "He was the person who kept the others focused and prepared. He would do whatever it took to win and at one point in the season when he felt he was not at the top of his game, he had Miles [Van Blarcum] take his spot in a match.
"It was not that Andrew did not want to play, but he believed for the good of the team it was better to have Miles play. Andrew loves golf and he loved the role of being captain on a very talented team."
The Pioneers are only losing two players to graduation from this year's team, which has Closen already looking forward to next season.
"Barnabas will be our No. 1 golfer next year and he wants to be the best he can be," Closen said. "Our two returning seniors, Robbie and Miles, along with Tianshuang [Joseph] Wang [freshman] give us a core of four golfers who will make us pretty good next season.
"There will also be some junior varsity players we expect to move up and you never know who else will walk through the door when practice starts next year."