By VINCE PELUSO
Like the changing of the color of leaves, it’s become a fall tradition — the Pymtatuning Valley Lakers win the Northeastern Athletic Conference in boys golf.
For the seventh-consecutive year coach, Jeff Compan’s Lakers took home the conference crown, clinching it by defeating Lordstown 164-192 at Old Dutch Mill on Tuesday.
The win pushed PV to 17-1 on the season and 13-1 in the conference, giving them a share conference title with Maplewood. The Rockets defeated the Lakers at Maplewood, but PV took the grudge match at home.
“It’s a new group every year, there’s new challenges, it’s not our strongest team ever,” Compan said. “But it’s been somebody different every day. We’ve gotten great scores from our No. 3 and 4 men. It’s been pretty solid all year.”
The Lakers have owned the NAC during this run, losing just four league matches over the past seven years.
“It’s nice because it seems like every year we only have one or two seniors,” he said. “This year, we had two seniors, a junior and a bunch of sophomores. We’re mixing a lot of the younger guys in, they’re getting a chance to play in situations where there isn’t a ton of pressure on them because we have a few guys who can score and only one of them really needs to put something up.
“It just kind of keeps turning over. We seem to have a nice balance, we don’t have that huge class. We’re going have eight lettermen this year, six will be back. So that looks OK for next year.”
The Lakers were led on Tuesday by Tim Baker’s 39, followed by Mitchell Dick (41), Adam Silvers (42), Chase Thurber (42), Brenton Dick (48) and Hunter Hayslip (50). The top four individual scores go towards a team’s total.
The win wasn’t just big because it clinched a split of the conference, but it was a must-win situation as it was the final match of the season for PV.
“We had to win tonight and we knew it,” Compan said. “We only beat them by 12 at our place. Tim Baker was saying on the way ‘there’s no way we’re breaking the streak tonight.’ Then on the way back, the two seniors Tim and Mitchell were telling the younger ones they can’t break the streak next year. They were encouraging them to work hard and play all summer.
“Not wanting to be the team that breaks the streak is definitely on their minds.”
For Compan, the key to the Lakers’ steady success has been their team depth.
“We just try to be consistent,” he said. “I tell them if they shoot 45 or better, we’ll win most of our matches. I’ve never had a super star. Tim Baker is our No. 1 and he’s probably the fourth best golfer in the league. Our depth pulls us through.”