WESTPORT - As good as it gets.
That's just about how Thursday's opening round of the Section VII championships worked out for Saranac Lake's golfers at the Westport Country Club.
After posting a 10-0 record in the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference, the Red Storm backed it up by winning the sectionaI crown Thursday, something they weren't able to do a year ago after also going unbeaten in the regular season.
Saranac Lake’s top six golfers pose with the Section VII team championship trophy Thursday at the Westport Country Club. Pictured from left are: coach Jim Hayden, Dustin Fischer, Kyle Dora, Matt Clark, Devin Darrah, Ethan Sawyer, Blake Gregory and coach Chris Stevens
(Photo courtesy of Kathy Clark)
Not only did Saranac Lake finish well ahead of the rest of the 15-team field, all six Red Storm golfers survived the cut to reach today's second round that will determine the individual champion and the make-up of the nine-player squad that will represent Section VII in the state tournament at Cornell University, June 2-4.
"You couldn't ask for much more," Saranac Lake head coach Chris Stevens said. "We were undefeated last year and couldn't win the section. This year, we started with winning the CVAC and then to win Section VII, how great is that? It was an exciting day down there.
"Whether we won or lost, all our kids played good golf," Stevens added. "That made them happy, and seeing that made me happy."
In the team round, the lowest four scores are counted among the six golfers playing for each school. Saranac Lake won with a 321 total, which was 16 strokes ahead of runner-up Elizabethtown-Lewis. Despite the large margin of victory, the Red Storm only held a one-shot lead after nine holes. But on the back nine, Saranac Lake pulled away to claim its first Section VII championship since 2008.
"Chipping and putting did it for us," Stevens said. "Anyone can get there in two shots, but you have to finish off. Every player on our team chipped well. They played good golf."
Sophomore Dustin Fischer led Saranac Lake with a 4-over par 76, which has him one stroke off the low rounds of the day turned in by defending champion John Hickey of AuSable Valley and Plattsburgh's Ethan Votraw, who are both seniors. Looking to make the state tournament in his final season of high school golf, captain Matt Clark turned in the next lowest score for the Red Storm, an 80. A season ago, Clark just missed qualifying for Cornell. He finished 10th and was the alternate for the state team.
"Winning the sectional title was definitely one thing we wanted to do," Clark said. "We were disappointed after going unbeaten last year and not winning the championship. We thought we had a real good chance at winning it this year, and we weren't going to let ourselves down.
"Hopefully, I can just go back tomorrow and do it again," Clark added. "Making the states, that would definitely be a good way to go out on top."
Kyle Dora and Ethan Sawyer are also in the mix for a state team berth after carding 83s for the Red Storm. Teammate Devin Darrah was two shots back with an 85. Darrah, a senior, struggled with a 47 on the front nine but rebounded after the turn with a 38 on the back.
Blake Gregory was the final Saranac Lake golfer to make the cut with a 90.
This marked the second year in a row all six Red Storm golfers advanced to the second round of the Section VII championships.
"When you bring six kids to the sectionals and the highest score on your team is a 90, that's tough to beat," Stevens said. "It's awesome seeing all our kids back in the second round."
Elizabethtown-Lewis was second with a 337 total and AuSable Valley was third with a 351. Three teams - Lake Placid, Northeastern Clinton and Plattsburgh - finished in a tie for fourth with 355 totals.
Thursday also marked a good outing for Lake Placid's two seniors, as Dustin Jacques and Nolan Reid easily made the cut. After placing 12th a year ago, Jacques has a solid opportunity to make the state team after turning in a 79 on Thursday.
"Dustin's focus this season has been making the state team after he came so close last year," Lake Placid coach John Glinski said. "He wanted to peak at the right time this season, and today he was really consistent. He didn't have a double bogey on his card."
If it hadn't been for a few rocky holes, Reid would firmly be in the mix as well. He finished with an 85. Reid carded an eagle on the front, but followed that hole with four straight double bogeys. He then ended the round with a double and triple bogey on the final two holes.
|Section VII Golf Championships|
|At Westport Golf Club|
|1. Saranac Lake 321. 2. Elizabethtown-Lewis 337. 3. AuSable Valley 351. 4. (tie) Lake Placid, Northeastern Clinton, Plattsburgh 355. 7. Peru, 356. 8. Moriah 362. 9. Saranac 364. 10. Schroon Lake 387. 11. Beekmantown 399. 12. Willsboro, 402. 13. Ticonderoga, 446. 14. (tie)Seton Catholic Westport incomplete.|
|Advanced to today’s final round|
|John Hickey, AuSable Valley||75|
|Ethan Votraw, Plattsburgh||75|
|Dustin Fischer, Saranac Lake||76|
|Brock Marvin, E'town-Lewis||77|
|Nolan Reid, NCCS||77|
|MaCullen Cope, Beekmantown||79|
|Dustin Jacques, Lake Placid||79|
|Tyler White, E'town-Lewis||80|
|Matt Clark, Saranac Lake||80|
|Connor Marvin, E'town-Lewis||81|
|Matt Nugent, Peru||81|
|Lucas Wood, Plattsburgh||82|
|Kyle Dora, Saranac Lake||82|
|Kolby Keysor, Saranac||83|
|Ethan Sawyer, Saranac Lake||83|
|Ian Williams, Schroon Lake||83|
|Devin Darrah, Saranac Lake||85|
|Nick Reid, Lake Placid||86|
|Tyler Lemza, Peru||86|
|Nick Lees, Saranac||86|
|Matt Filler, Schroon Lake||86|
|Keith Ida, Moriah||88|
|Jacquie Hoey, AuSable Valley||89|
|Dylan Scozzafava, Moriah||89|
|Alex Duffy, NCCS||89|
|Nate Devins, AuSable Valley||90|
|Blake Gregory, Saranac Lake||90|