The Aurora boys golf team has certainly enjoyed its time competing in the Suburban League since it expanded to two conferences in 2015.
At the same time, though, the constant longer bus rides were a bit of a headache.
Those days may be over.
Aurora will save a few dollars when it comes to fuel, thanks to a new league format.
Instead of playing preseason and postseason tournaments, plus a six-match conference schedule, the Greenmen and the rest of their league rivals will play in four tournaments.
All Suburban League teams from both the American and National Conference will be invited to play in each tournament. Their performances at those four competitions will determine each team’s standing in the conference.
So how does fourth-year Aurora head coach Dave Munson feel about the new format? Let’s just say he approves.
"It’s a good idea for several reasons," Munson said. "Everybody is playing on the same date, same course and same setup. Second, it just makes scheduling easier because it opens up more dates.
"One of the big things for our team is when we played away from home, we had to go to Copley, Highland, Barberton, Tallmadge. It’s hard for us to get there. You have to get a bus, get on a bus, get there and you have to get ready to play. This eliminates that aspect."
Regardless of the change of scenery, Munson has a lineup that doesn’t expect to be a pushover in the American Conference.
The Greenmen finished 7-5 overall and 3-3 in the American Conference last season. Highland is the defending American Conference champion.
"Both conferences are really good and really competitive," Munson said. "High school golf in general has gotten better and better. Our kids have worked really hard. We’re optimistic about our chances to compete."
Aurora also has a district qualifier back in the mix.
Junior Lake Radis returns after being the team’s No. 1 golfer throughout the 2018 season. Radis advanced to Division I district play last fall.
"Luke is our No. 1 guy," Munson said. "He had a very good summer. We’re looking forward to him making districts again. He’s a very, very solid player. I’m excited about his opportunities."
Two other returning letter winners include junior Mason Wolkov and sophomore Alex Ventimiglia.
"They have varsity experience," Munson said. "I’m looking forward to that."
Munson also is excited to welcome senior Bradley Valdman, who previously played at James A. Garfield High School in Garrettsville.
"Bradley played well all three days of tryouts," Munson said. "He’ll be part of the varsity team."
Senior A.J. Ventimiglia, who is Alex’s older brother, and juniors Danny Abbass and Aidan Sandstrom also are expected to be in the varsity mix, according to Munson.
Freshman Jude Abbass, who is Danny’s younger brother, is expected to earn some varsity time, as well.
"There is some good competition for the last few spots," Munson said. "I’m excited about where the program is. We’re moving in the right direction."
The junior varsity coach is Dave Dankelson. The team also has two volunteer coaches. They are Lizzy D’Amato and George Snider.
Munson certain has some quality talent at his disposal. Nonetheless, posting low scores, earning victories and finishing high in tournaments are not the most pressing matters on West Pioneer Trail.
For Munson, watching his players carry themselves as gentlemen both on and off the course is priority numero uno.
"When we teach our individuals in golf or in any sport, it gives us an opportunity to teach about life," Munson said. "Golf provides wonderful learning opportunities when it comes to etiquette and sportsmanship. It teaches you how to respond to setbacks. We’re definitely working hard to do things the right way."
The Greenmen are scheduled to make their 2019 debut at the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy Invitational Monday at Silver Lake Country Club. Play is set to begin at 9 a.m.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.