NEWTON FALLS – It hasn’t always been easy for Girard High School sophomore Mark Standohar to, well, ‘stand’ out from the crowd – a crowd of classmates, relatives and even immediate family.
At first, his escape was a nicknane. Now, it’s on the golf course.
Mark, also known as “Cutter,” shot a 34 at Riverview Golf Club on Tuesday to give the Indians an All-American Conference win over Newton Falls. His older brother, Evan, shot a 38 while cousin Jimmy, shot a 40.
It was Girard’s 10th victory in an undefeated season and its 32nd straight league win, dating back to early 2011.
“I feel like a lot of teams really are trying to give their best against us,” Mark said. “We’re not going to lay down, we’re going to be strong each time.
“They were with us, but we could break away later in the match.”
Earlier in his life, Mark (and many other children of the mid-1990s) was an avid viewer of Bear in the Big Blue House on Disney Channel. One of the characters, a small purple otter, was named “Tutter.” A young Mark had trouble pronouncing his name and grandpa Standohar had trouble understanding him.
“It was pretty funny back then,” said an older Mark Standohar, Evan and Mark’s father. “The name ‘Cutter’ just kind of stuck with Mark and makes it easier because my name’s Mark and my dad’s name is Mark.”
But with the childishness and silliness behind him, Mark is all business on the golf course.
“You can’t tell if he’s 10-under or 10-over,” Girard coach Josh Marsh said. “He’s so even-keel and nothing really gets to him or bothers him.”
Without him, Newton Falls likely would’ve ended Girard’s winning streak. The Tigers (7-2, 6-2) shot 165, compared to 157 by the Indians. Their top two golfers, Jacob Harrah and Sean Croell, shot 37 and 40, respectively.
“Look at their top three scores,” Newton Falls coach Sean Kernan said. “Those aren’t too different. The difference is right there. It’s Mark Standohar.”
The key for Girard is depth. One day (like Tuesday), it’s Mark lifting the team over the edge. Sometimes it’s Jimmy or Evan. Another senior, Zane Chase, also gives a boost or picks up a stroke to guarantee a win.
“I was the five man last year,” said Chase, who shot a 45 at Riverview. “I definitely feel like I’m making more of an impact this year. I have to fill that spot as a four guy because it could be crucial. The Standohars are great golfers and it feels pretty good to be able to back them up. I really take pride in that.”
Against Lakeview on Aug. 26, his 43 came into play with a 162-163 win at Walnut Run. Chase golfs in a pair with freshman Mike Bowers. Christian Bello is another senior on the team.
“I like to keep (Mike) in-tact with the game,” Chase said. “It definitely helps me out when I’m not just focused on myself.”
Though these two teams face off again on Sept. 11, they won’t play in the postseason. Girard remains in Division II, while Newton Falls was recently relegated to D-III, which allows the Tigers to host a sectional later in the month.
“That was a pleasant surprise,” Kernan said. “Our sights are on playing and improving our golf game. We have a chance to move on in the tournament as a team.”
Also for Newton Falls on Tuesday, Tyler Phelps shot a 43, Harrison Woodward had a 45 and Zack Berry totaled 46.