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Lakers coach reaches milestone, looks to tourney

Jeff Compan recently reached his second coaching milestone of the year.

The 17th-year boys golf coach at Pymatuning Valley earned his 200th career victory on Sept. 9 when the Lakers defeated Maplewood 174-181 at Andover Golf Course.

Compan surpassed 300 career wins as the Lakers’ girls basketball coach last January in his 20th season at the helm.

“It’s just a reminder that I’ve been around a long time,” joked Compan, who has been a health and physical education teacher in the school district for 22 years. “Seriously though, I’ve had the pleasure of coaching a lot of good athletes and nice young men and ladies. It’s all about them, not me.”

Junior Ryan Heym did not know Compan was nearing the 200-win barrier ahead of time.

“He was really reserved and never said anything about it,” said Heym, who usually teams with his twin, Eric, to comprise the top two spots in the lineup. “But he deserves it. He’s a hands-on coach who takes the time to teach you how to do things more efficiently. That allows you to learn and improve on your game.”

The Lakers are 12-1 overall and 10-0 in the Northeast Athletic Conference ahead of a home match Monday against Windham. It was the first loss for the Rockets in league play. The teams meet again Sept. 23 at Walnut Run. The NAC does not have a league tournament.

“We’ve had some pretty consistent teams through the years and that’s what we have this year,” Compan said. “We’ve won seven league championships, but never have won a sectional title and we haven’t had a district qualifier either. So we’re not dominant, but we’ve won our share and the boys enjoy that.”

The Lakers’ league titles were won consecutively from 2008-14 before finishing second the following two seasons.

“We’ve struggled since then, but I really like the makeup of this team,” Compan said. “We may not have a golfer who will shoot par or below, but we’ve got many guys who shoot consistently well. Plus, we’re still young. We don’t have a senior in our top six.”

The Heym twins are joined in the lineup by sophomores Jansen Smith and Nate Henry and freshman Michael Clark. Sophomore Konner Fetters is at No. 6, while seniors Andrew Pstavitz and Rosalie Chambers and junior Elan Murphy have rotated at No. 7.

“Jansen and Michael usually provide good support for the twins,” Compan said. “Any one of them is capable of having a good round when another isn’t having a good day. Against Maplewood, which was a big win for us, we used a 46 from Nate, normally our No. 5, and discarded a 48 from Ryan.”

While PV has generally struggled in the postseason, Compan thinks his team has a shot to advance to district this season. The top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team in the sectional Sept. 25 at Riverview will advance to the district Oct. 3 at Tannenhauf in Alliance.

“We were the big fish in a little sea in terms of our league, but then we’d compete in Division II sectionals and not have much of a chance,” he said. “Fortunately, we dropped to Division III two years ago and that gives us a better chance. Brookfield likely has the top two golfers in the district and McDonald should be right there, too. But there could be a number of teams, like us, capable of finishing anywhere from third to eighth.”

“We are very dedicated and focused on one goal — to get better,” Ryan Heym said. “I think we can make it to district as a team. We have something special taking place this year.”

No mater how PV fares in the postseason, Compan believes the program will continue to thrive.

“Our kids work hard in the summer and prepare,” he said. “They’re always fighting for bragging rights amongst each other and their friendly jabs and competitive juices help us put together good seasons. They take pride in our program.

“We had 30 kids in Grades 1 through 7 in our summer program this year, so I think we’ll continue to be competitive beyond just the next few years.”

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