After eight years of varying degrees worth of close calls, Cape Elizabeth’s golf team returned to what it feels is its rightful perch, atop Class B, at Saturday’s state championship match at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro.
After a perfect regular season and a first-place finish at the conference qualifier, the Capers shot a team score of 322, which was 12 better than runner-up Old Town, giving them their first crown since 2007 and the sixth in program history (1970, 1999, 2003 and 2005 were the others)
Freshman sensation Austin Legge led the way with an 18-hole round of 78. Max Altznauer and Ryan Collins both had rounds of 81 and Lauren Schonewolf finished with an 82. Bryce Hewitt’s 86 wasn’t factored in, but it would have been a top four score on every other team in the field.
“This being my first year as coach, all I heard from the kids from day one until the first tee of state’s were the stories of them being state runners-up the last two seasons,” said Cape Elizabeth coach Chris Whitney. “There wasn’t any need for me to talk to them or motivate them to try to get the ‘monkey off the back’ per se. These kids have been hungry and worked on their games with and without me all season to get another crack at winning that championship.
“I knew we had the talent, my only concern was the fact that we were so young, as our state championship lineup started freshman, sophomore, sophomore, then we had a junior and our lone senior on the team to go with them. Could they handle the pressure, then to boot, at tee time, it was 41 degrees with a bone chilling 30 mile-per-hour wind. After the first three holes, I was a wreck watching the play on the course thinking, ‘Not again for these kids!’ Then, as the day wore on, they just proved they were as mentally ready as anyone there and they grinded out five solid rounds.
“When I watched Lauren tap in for an 82, that’s when we started walking into the clubhouse and in the back of my mind I started to think we had done it. Then, when I saw Max card an 81 and Austin a 78, I realized the kids got themselves and the program over the hump. This championship was won by the entire 19-player team. They practiced so hard all season and are there for each other on the golf course and away from it.”
Hewitt is the only player to graduate, so expect Cape Elizabeth to make another strong run at a title in 2016.
“This state championship isn’t a culmination of the 2015 season, it’s a springboard into the next three seasons in which I believe we’ll be stronger than this year’s squad as the youngsters gain experience and maturity,” Whitney said. “There’s a lot of excitement about the team right now and it may not be the forgotten fall sport much longer. Kids are telling me how friends from school want to play next year. We return 14 players who all scored in a varsity match this undefeated season and we return an entire 10-person JV team that won the SMAA Class A JV championship. I’m so happy with the support from the administration right to the parents and this program is going full steam ahead in a very good direction. With this win, our goal has been taken care of and now we can set a goal to shoot lower than our winning score next year.”
In Class A, defending champion Scarborough finished with a solid round of 326, but that left the Red Storm third behind Thornton Academy (310) and Cheverus (324). The Red Storm were paced this year by Anthony Burnham, who shot a 77. Last year’s hero, Drew Kane, had a 78. Nate Roberts finished with a round of 85 and Brogan Kane and Ian Trumpler both shot an 86.
The golf season winds up Saturday back at Natanis where individual champions will be crowned. Altznauer, Collins, Hewitt and Legge will vie for the Class B boys’ title, while Schonewolf and Mia Spencer will look to win the all-class girls’ crown.
Cape Elizabeth’s golf team was all smiles while showing off its Class B championship trophy Saturday.