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While none of them were fortunate enough to bring home a state championship, the four local golf teams that made the trip to Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro for Saturday’s team golf state championships had plenty to feel good about.
In Class B, the defending state champion Falmouth Yachtsmen capped a solid campaign by finishing runner-up to York. The Wildcats enjoyed a 17-stroke victory (311 to 328). Yarmouth completed its second straight stellar showing at states with a third-place finish (329).
In Class A, Greely, which moved up in class this year, came in fifth with a team score of 330. Thornton Academy (316) was first.
In Class C, North Yarmouth Academy shot a 324 to come in third behind Houlton (318) and St. Dom’s (322).
Four to the forefront
Falmouth entered 2009 a bit of an unknown commodity, but was competitive throughout the regular season, going 4-5 before placing second at the Western Maine Conference qualifier. Saturday, the Yachtsmen were paced by Connor Burfeind, who shot a 77 on the 18-hole Tomahawk course. Will Bucklin (82), Nick Franco (84) and Taylor Dimick (85) also scored. Matt Packard’s 89 didn’t figure into the scoring.
“This season was pretty amazing for our team,” said Falmouth coach Spike Herrick. “We graduated five of the top six from last year’s state championship team. We felt that making it to states would be an amazing accomplishment. When we shot a 294 at the first day of qualifiers, everyone took notice. That was the lowest score ever recorded at the qualifiers!
“We went up Saturday and gave it a shot. It wasn’t our best day, but we never stopped trying. We finished and were a bit down as we hadn’t performed as well as we had hoped and we knew that there was no hope of winning, even though we knew that was a longshot. Then we noticed that we had a shot at runner-up and all of us got pretty excited. We watched all the scores come in and when we saw that we came in second, we were elated. If someone had offered us runner-up at the beginning of the season, we would have leapt at it. We certainly reached our potential. This is one of my most favorite years as a coach. I won’t forget it and I don’t think the players will either. They all gave it their all.”
Yarmouth, which shocked everyone a year ago by qualifying unexpectedly for the state match before placing fifth, went 5-4 this year and finished third at the qualifier. At Natanis, the Clippers got a 75 from Nick McMenamin, an 84 from Tanner Johnson, 85 from Brian Laverierre and an 85 from Ian Marr. Joe King (87) also took part.
“All five of our players gave it their best shot on Saturday,” said first-year Yarmouth coach Tom McDowell. “Nick McMenamin played very well. You could see his focus during the round. Tanner Johnson gutted out a solid round as well. We went into it knowing that if we played well, we had a chance. We also knew that there were four teams that were in that same boat – York, Falmouth, Cape Elizabeth, and us. York played very well, particularly given the conditions.
“To have a winning record in our conference is a testament to our players this year. It was clear at the state tournament that our conference was the best in the state this year. Four Class B schools qualified from our conference, and these four schools finished in the top four in the state tournament. Add in Greely from our conference, who qualified in Class A and finished fifth in the state, and a winning record in our conference places us as one of the best in the state. I am proud of what our kids accomplished this fall. The team displayed excellent sportsmanship this year. Quality golf and good sportsmanship are what we are looking for, and this group delivered on that.”
Greely, under first-year coach Brian Bickford, had a stellar 2009, going 8-1 in the regular season before making it to states by shooting a 320 at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference qualifier. Saturday, on the Tomahawk course, the Rangers (whose enrollment numbers forced the move up to Class A) were led by Dean Maynard’s 80. Ben Walsh (82), Jason Lewis (84) and Peter Westra (84) also scored, while Kyle Bickford (85) was close behind.
“It was a tough day to play and the scores were a little higher,” said coach Bickford. “Finishing fifth and ahead of Cheverus, Brunswick and Lewiston was great. We’re pretty excited about the season. We lose four seniors, but we have 36 kids and a strong eighth grade class coming in. We’ll be young, but I feel we should re-qualify for states.”
Greely is sending all five boys who competed Saturday, as well as seven girls, to the individual championships this coming weekend.
“Qualifying 12 kids has to be a state record,” said Bickford.
NYA didn’t qualify for states a year ago, despite an 8-1 regular season mark. In 2008, only one Class C team from the conference qualified and the Panthers came in second to rival St. Dom’s. With the Saints out of the conference this season, NYA faced a much easier road and the Panthers were superb from start to finish under new coach Mike Dutton, winning 11 of 12 regular season matches before shooting a 652 to come in first at the conference qualifier. At states, NYA (which played the Arrowhead course) featured a 76 from standout Tim Millett, a 78 from Nick Luce, an 84 from Toey LeBlanc and an 86 from Harry Fast. Chris Whiting (91) also took part.
“It was a good effort from the team,” said Dutton. “None of them had been to the state tournament before. We had a great regular season, we just didn’t play strong at the state tournament and it cost us. We would have had the tiebreaker for first or second place.
“I enjoyed the season. Great kids. We lose our second, third and fourth scorers from states to graduation. We’ll have a very different team next year.”
The 2009 golf season comes to a close this Saturday when several local individuals battle for top honors back at Natanis.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com