Golfers prepared for season
Conant and Mascenic Golf
2012 Season Opener at Shattuck Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
francestown, crotched mnn golf, conval v windham, john stark Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
Division III Golf State Tournament at Newport Golf Club in Newport, NH
Mascenic and Conant Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
The high school golf season is the shortest of any sport.
In just over a month, teams will play more than 20 match-ups leading up to the one-day state tournaments in hopes of shooting their lowest scores of the season.
Over the next five weeks, golfers will square off with as many as three opponents on one day, sometimes playing three matches in a week. During the regular season, teams play nine holes in a match, but when it comes to the one-day state tournament, they all play 18 with the lowest team score earning the right to be called a state champion.
It is a mad dash to the finish and one that always proves to be exciting, especially on that final day.
The Vikings finished the 2013 season with 21-2 regular season mark and were just five strokes behind Division III champion Bow in their quest for back-to-back state titles.
Mascenic lost only two seniors from last year’s team, but both Jocelyn Ojala, the NH girls state champion, and Jalen Rines scored in the team tournament. The team also lost longtime coach Russell Salo, who decided to step away after seven years on the job and four championships.
But the Vikings will be just fine, as Athletic Director Kevin Rines takes over a group that still has a ton of talent and potential. Rines will keep things exactly the same as Salo did in hopes of another title run.
“The dedication and commitment is there,” said Rines. “On the first day of practice, they had already played nine holes by the time I showed up.”
Leading the way will be defending D-III individual champion Roman Ojala. Ojala won his first state title by four shots as just a freshman and is primed to have another standout season.
“He is going to be pretty consistent on the course throughout the season,” said Rines.
Junior Shane Rautiola and senior Jordan Kinnunen bring a ton of experience to the team, having played in the state tournament before. Sophomores Adrian Somero, Ian Honkala, Bretton White and Chase Holombo have all proven to be ready to produce low scores.
“I don’t see it being the same four guys scoring every match,” said Rines. “And that is a good thing.”
The Orioles were 14-10 last year in the regular season and fifth in the team tournament, but have a lot of work to do to get back to that level.
Conant returns just three players from a year ago and only two that played in states. They lost Noah Miller, who finished No. 3 in the D-III individual tournament, and Ben Desmaris to graduation and another to transfer.
“At this point, it would be nice to get to the state tournament,” said coach Rick Simoneau, who enters his 11th year.
But senior Maki Seppala is back and ready to improve upon an already impressive career. Seppala finished ninth in individuals last year and should be among the top group this season.
“Ever since he first came on the team he’s been a really strong golfer,” said Simoneau. “I think he’s going to do really well.”
Junior Zack Damon came on strong last year and is expected to have a breakout campaign, while his younger brother, Kyle, a freshman, will be looked upon to make an immediate impact.
“Those three, Maki, Zack and Kyle are strong golfers,” said Simoneau.
The likes of sophomores Cordell Wright, Garrett Maki and Tyler Beaven, as well as Dylan Weeks will all have a chance to contribute for the younger Orioles squad.
The Cougars did not qualify for the state tournament last year and will have a hard time doing so in 2013.
ConVal does return its top two golfers from a year ago in seniors Sam Cody and Ben Wescott, both of who made it to the individual round of Division II, but beyond that there is quite a bit of uncertainty.
Cody was ninth in Division II, while Wescott placed 22nd after a tough finish on day two, and both are expected to consistently shoot in the high 30s.
“They’re playing at such a high level,” said coach Don Jalbert. “I don’t know how much lower they can go.”
But with the loss of three in the top eight, the Cougars will need quite a few players to step up if they want to compete in a stacked D-II.
“We don’t have the experience or the depth that a lot of our competition has,” said Jalbert.
Junior Will MacPhee has shown a lot of improvement since last year and senior Ben Forrest is one Jalbert hopes can also help keep the team scores low. Sophomore Steve Kazanovicz, a transfer from Trinity, and freshman Barrett Norton have the chance to contribute right away.
“We’ve got a few that we’re hoping will step up their game,” said Jalbert.