Talk about your late bloomers, St. Francis de Sales golfer Drew Bruecken went from bud to blossom in about two weeks to beat the first frost of fall.
The Knight senior, who didn't even play golf for St. Francis last year, rose to the occasion yesterday in the final round of the City League championship tournament at Ottawa Park, helping his team take a two-stroke victory over runner-up St. John's Jesuit 629-631.
Bruecken followed his first-round 79 from Tuesday at Det-wiler with a personal-best 76 yesterday. His surprising 155 total in the 36-hole event was just enough to snap St. John's string of four straight CL team titles.
Bruecken was second individually to tourney medalist Adam Crisp (149) of Bowsher. Waite's Tom Duris shot 156 to place third.
"We don't have the good individual player like Crisp," St. Francis coach Dick Nowak said, "but we've got eight kids who are pretty close together [in scoring] and they work hard and play well together. Consequently, we're a pretty good team.
"Drew [Bruecken] has been a pleasant surprise. He came out this year and improved, and he did pretty well here. In fact, he carried us."
Crisp, who will be the CL's player of the year for the second year in a row, led the field with his 1-over 72 at Detwiler Tuesday. He settled for a 6-over 77 yesterday at Ottawa to retain first place.
Bowsher was third in the team chase at 637.
The Rebels got what they thought they needed to win the tourney - a solid fourth scorer. Senior No. 4 player Mike Pomeranz was under his scoring average of 85 with an 83-81-164. But Crisp, No. 2 Kevin Williams (163) and No. 3 Kyle Lynch (161) did not go low enough to overtake St. Francis or St. John's.
"Today was pretty disappointing," Crisp said after his six-bogey, one-birdie round. "I pretty much played terrible, but it was good enough to get the [individual] win. It was nice to see that they came through at the bottom of the lineup today, and it was disappointing for me and our No. 2 man [Williams] that we were a little higher today.
Bruecken began the season as St. Francis' No. 8 player, and was still battling for a spot in the lineup last week. He edged fellow senior Austin Jason by virtue of scoring average for the No. 6 slot, and the right to play in the CL tourney.
"It worked out pretty nice," Bruecken said. "I've been slowly climbing up from 8 to 7 to 6, and I've been playing pretty well lately. So, it really wasn't too much of a surprise that I played well.
"I shot 76 and I easily could have done better. On one of the easiest holes on the course [No. 2], I triple-bogeyed."
Following Bruecken for the Knights were sophomore No. 1 Nick Oswald (78-78-156), who placed fourth individually, and junior No. 2 Mike Flis (83-77- 160). Sophomore Bob Rachko's 80 counted Tuesday, and junior Dan Kramer's 78 figured into the 309 team total yesterday.
The top four scorers out of six players in the lineup counted for each round.
St. John's, which had won 19 of the past 20 CL golf titles and 29 of the last 32, matched St. Francis with a final-round 309 after trailing 320-322 through one round.
The well-balanced Titans closed with 77s from A.J. Wiegand, Brad Seidel, and Paul Kolovich, plus a 78 from team No. 1 Nathan Anderson. Anderson and Wiegand tied Central's Catholic's Joe Baranek for fifth individually at 157.
Central was fourth in the team hunt at 659, and Clay was fifth at 662.
Central Catholic got a test at Clay last night, but the sixth-ranked Irish fought off the Eagles' upset bid to take a 25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 25-23 City League volleyball victory.
Ellen Herman (25 kills) pounded the final one down the middle to seal the win and lift the Irish to 14-3 (8-1 CL).
Clay (10-3, 8-1), with its tallest player at 5-foot-10, used solid defense to offset Central's edge in size. After falling behind 22-16 in the third game, Eagles middle hitter Kelsey Roberts served the final nine points in the winning Game 3 rally.
"We were just a little out of sync at that point," Central coach Denise Wiczynski said. "We needed to regroup and go back to our game plan. Once we refocused, we got back to what we needed to do."
Game 4 had six lead changes, and neither team led by more than three. Down 23-20, Clay got within 24-23 on a well-placed dink by Ashley Rucki before Central set up Herman's game-winner.
Ashley Frazier added 16 kills for the Irish.
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