Close calls for local golf teams
For the first time ever, all five Forecaster Country golf teams took part in the state championship matches Saturday at Natanis Golf Course in Yarmouth.
Falmouth's quest for a second straight Class A title (and a third overall when its 2010 crown from Class B is taken into account) and Greely's search for its first in Class A were both dashed by Gorham. The Rams won a very close match by posting a team score of 309. The Rangers were second with 314. The Yachtsmen placed fourth at 319 (Cheverus, 316, was third).
Greely, 7-3 in the regular season and coming off a superb showing at the Southern Maine Activities Association qualifier with a team score of 317, last won a championship back in 1995 (when it competed in Class B) and came close this time around thanks to great rounds from Kyle Megathlin (74), Kyle Bickford (76), Tucker Hawkinson (82) and Bailey Train (82). Tommy Buckholz shot a 90, but his score wasn't taken into account. Ultimately, the Rangers couldn't quite catch Gorham.
"We had a strategy about playing big tournaments and what it takes to play well and we executed," said Rangers coach Brian Bickford. "It’s a great feeling when that happens. It doesn’t always happen in golf, but when you have players who believe they can play well, it’s a lot of fun. It was particularly satisfying to see our seniors play well. Kyle, Kyle and Tucker have been in our program since they were junior golfers and to see them play well warms my heart. We would have been ecstatic to win it all, but Gorham is an outstanding team. Finishing runner-up to Gorham is not disappointing in the least. They earned the win and we are happy to be runner-up."
Greely will be right back in the hunt in 2013.
"I look forward to Bailey, Tommy and a slew of underclassmen returning next year," Bickford said.
Falmouth, which went 8-2 in the regular season, won the SMAA's Northern Division championship and shot a 329 at the qualifier, was paced Saturday by Joe Lesniak, who shot a 75. Also scoring were Brad Gilbert (79), Drew Proctor (82) and Matt Hutchinson (83). Alden Weller shot an 85, but his score didn't count.
"We've had a lot of success over the years, so at times, it seems as if anything less than a state championship is a failure," said Yachtsmen coach Spike Herrick. "That's definitely not the case. To win a title, you need four of your five golfers to have a very good score on that particular day. That didn't happen for us this year, but I certainly consider this season to be a success.
"We graduated four from last year's championship team and we knew that we had a lot of work to do if we were going to replicate the successes of 2011. We worked very hard and to a large degree, were very successful. We won our division, beating out two very formidable teams, Cheverus and Scarborough. At the state tourney, we missed out by 10 strokes. Ten isn't a large difference when you are talking about scores in the low 300 range. Our golfers got off to a very slow start. They got mentally down as they realized that they had put themselves in a catch-up position after just a few holes, but they dug in. They played with grit and determination. Had the tournament been based on the second nine, we would have won, but golf is a game of 18 holes and the better teams (on that day) prevailed.
"Our lone senior, Drew, led by example and by really digging in on his last nine holes. Joe, our number one golfer, continued his year long steady play. Russell played exceptional golf under heavy pressure. Matt and Alden didn't have their 'A' games, but persevered in a big way. I'm so proud of this team. They kept their heads up and played with class, which can be hard to do when the chips are down. Our hats go off to Gorham. They played very well and have our congratulations."
Falmouth will look to return to the top next fall.
Yarmouth came to Natanis Saturday on the heels of a superb 10-1 regular season and a top score of 319 at the WMC qualifier and was bound and determined to win Class B for the first time. The Clippers weren't able to provide the fairy tale ending, however, shooting a 332 to come in third behind repeat champion York (311) and Maranacook (324).
Red DeSmith bowed out with a stellar 71, but he was the only player in the 70s. Cal Cooper finished with an 85 and both Nick Lainey and Monica Austin shot 88s. Spencer Olsen's 95 wasn't factored in.
"Saturday was a tough day," said Yarmouth coach Gregg Baker. "With the exception of Red Desmith shooting 71, the rest of the team all had one or two really bad holes and a couple of those were early in the round. I was proud of the way they kept their composure even when things weren't going well for them. They all kept trying to come back. Even Red hung tough a couple of times when his round started to deteriorate. He did a great job posting a low round. Kudos to York, they posted a great total, we needed to play very well to compete and it just wasn't our best day. To have bested a team of York's quality twice this year says a lot about how good we were. I'm extremely proud of this team. We did have a great season."
Freeport, 3-9 in the regular season, which shot a 356 at the WMC qualifier, took part in the state meet for just the second time and finished 10th after posting a score of 374. Nick Cartmell led the Falcons with an 89. Nick Tardiff and John Mervine both shot 93s and Spencer Drake also scored with a 99. Quinn Dowling also took part and shot a 106.
In Class C, North Yarmouth Academy, which didn't even field a varsity team in 2011, went 10-1 in the regular season, was the conference champion at the qualifier with a team score of 363 and finished eighth at the state meet with a score of 386 (St. Dom's took the top spot with a 319). The Panthers featured Brad Potter (92), Mark Snyder (95), Ryan Walters (98) and Nick Demers (101) as scorers. Ben Ambrose (108) also competed.
"Since no one on the team, along with myself, had been to states, we had no idea what to expect," said NYA first-year coach Charlie Hudson. "Personally, I felt that if the team played close to bogey golf as we had earlier in the week at WMC's and in several matches during the season, we would finish in the middle of the pack. Ultimately, lack of experience and youth impacted us and the team had a tough day with two having solid rounds and the other three struggling. Although all were disappointed in their play, considering that we had no team last year, the fact that we finished with a 10-1 record in league play and qualified for states by finishing first among the conference Class C teams, the season was a very successful one."
The Panthers have several key players returning in 2013.
"With all but one of this year's team returning next year, the team's experience at states will be valuable in terms of making them better prepared to be more competitive for possible future trips to states," Hudson said.
The golf fun isn't quite done yet as individual Class A, B and C boys and a one-class girls' champion will be crowned Saturday, back at Natanis.