Defending its Northern Buckeye Conference title was never a foregone conclusion for Woodmore’s boys’ golf team.
Coach Steve Burner returned a veteran squad heading into the 2012 season, but that didn’t mean the rest of the conference schools were simply going to concede the title to the Wildcats.
“We were the elder statesmen of the league,” Burner said. “We had the most seniors and, with what we had coming back, we were the favorites. Four of the six (players) I had coming back earned some sort of all-league honor last year.
“We talked at the beginning of the year that it’s great on paper, but you have to go out there and shoot the scores. We took first place in three out of the four (NBC) shootouts and took second in one of them. And, we ended up taking the big one at Green Hills.”
Woodmore captured the season-ending NBC tournament last Thursday at Green Hills, cementing its position as conference champion. The team champion is determined by awarding points for the four NBC shootouts as well as the 18-hole NBC tourney.
The Wildcats finished with 47 points, while Eastwood and Lake tied for second with 38 apiece. Rossford was fourth with 29, followed by Elmwood (24), Genoa (22) and Fostoria (12). Eastwood, which also took second last year, had one first-team all-conference performer in senior Steve Bruning, while Woodmore put five players on the first team and one on the second team.
“I didn’t expect that,” Burner said. “That’s something you don’t see very often.”
Woodmore’s first-teamers were seniors Ty Burner, Matt Zatko, Paul Makulinski and Mikayla Baer, and sophomore Alex Gedert. Burner was the NBC Player of the Year runner-up, while Zatko finished third. Junior teammate Devin Fisher earned second-team all-conference honors.
Ty Burner averaged right around 80 strokes for nine holes, and he averaged less than 40 strokes for all of the Wildcats’ nine-hole events.
“Ty expected what he’s doing,” coach Burner said, “but he’s been more consistent this year than in the past. His maturity level, being a senior, has really picked up. He played No. 1 for me all year and he’s doing a nice job with that.
“Matt had a tough start to the season, but he’s coming on nicely now. With sectionals and districts coming up and, hopefully, state, we hope he really starts coming on now.”
Coach Burner called Gedert’s performance during the season “my surprise.”
“He played in a lot of summer tournaments and was practicing a lot,” Burner said. “He has really come on this year. Last year he played in a couple tournaments toward the latter part of the season and he did a nice job. He’s been my biggest surprise this year.”
Burner said Makulinski got better as he started to take his golf game more seriously.
“Paul was more that guy who you thought just liked to do golf, just go out and have fun,” the coach said. “This year he shot some real good scores. He shot a 72 at the Old Fort Invitational and he shot a 79 on Monday at the Edison Invitational.”
Baer, whose nine-hole average also hovered around 40 all season, played like her old self this year, according to Burner.
“It was typical Mikayla,” Burner said. “She lives golf. Golf is everything to her. She struggled a little bit, but as she did struggle she figured out what she was doing wrong. It was unbelievable to watch her play.”
Baer defended her Division II girls sectional title on Tuesday by shooting a 68 at White Pines Golf Course in Swanton. She earned medalist honors after beating runners-up Emily Turski of Cardinal Stitch - the Cardinals took second place as a team to advance to districts – and Anna Marshall of Wauseon by a whopping 20 strokes.
“She was solid from tee to green,” Burner said. “It put chills in you to watch her play.”
Baer, who took fourth at last year’s state tournament, will compete in the district tournament next week at Sycamore Springs near Findlay.