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Area’s high school golf teams get swinging ahead of fall season

  • Hopkinton’€™s Kody Dexter winds up at last year’s Division III golf championship at Derryfield Country Club on Oct. 20. Allie St. Peter / Monitor file

  • Bow’s Amelia Soucy watches her drive at last year’s Division III golf championship at Derryfield Country Club on Oct. 20. Soucy is one of several top returning golfers for the Falcons, who have won seven team titles in the last nine years. Allie St. Peter / Monitor file

Monitor staff
Published: 8/24/2021 5:43:56 PM

The Bow Falcons golf team has won seven titles in the last nine years and have the talent returning to make it eight out of 10.

While the 2020 athletic season had many characteristics that people would like to forget, NHIAA golf is bringing back something from the past that has nothing to do with COVID-19 – the return of Stableford scoring.

NHIAA golf used stroke play in 2020 after introducing Stableford scoring in 2018 and continuing it in 2019. Divisions II, III and IV will use Stableford scoring, a method that gives players points based on how they perform on each hole. NHIAA will use a modified version, starting with zero points for a triple bogey, one point for a double bogey, two points for a bogey, three points for par, four points for a birdie, and so on.

“It helps tremendously with time, especially when we’re playing in September and the days are getting shorter,” said Matt Davis, who is in his fifth year as the Falcons’ head coach. “If that player has a bad hole, they can move on to the next. For some of the players who are newer to the game, it helps them be less overwhelmed.”

That might make a big difference for less experienced teams with smaller rosters, but “newer to the game” doesn’t describe D-III Bow.

There were 29 players who came out for the golf team, which Davis had to whittle down to 22, “the biggest team ever by far since I’ve been with the program.” Among the most experienced returners are sophomore Hunter Duncan (third individually in D-III in 2020), junior Cam Evans (10th in D-III), senior Amelia Soucy (11th in girls’ individual championship flight), junior Ali Sargent, and sophomores Joey Place and Sean Guerrette. Freshman Owen Webber also adds depth and could challenge for a varsity spot.

In addition to a possible team championship, the Falcons could also have players finish highly individually. This year’s individual championship is scheduled to be played at Beaver Meadow in Concord, a familiar course to area golfers.

Duncan had an especially successful freshman season last year and is fresh off an excellent performance at the New Hampshire State Amateur Championship this summer, advancing out of stroke play and into match play in a loaded field of golfers that includes former pros and current collegiate players.

“You can go through the New Hampshire Golf Association tournaments and only see three or four (D-III high school) kids playing in those events,” Davis said. “(Duncan) has good experience competing at the junior level, but for him I think playing (in the state am) is good to help bring his game to the next level. You’ve got to be talented to play in that tournament and you’ve got to be talented to advance out of stroke play into match play.”

All teams will benefit from a normal schedule of play – as opposed to the cohort scheduling of the 2020 campaign – so Bow will be able to play on a variety of courses and see top challengers like Derryfield (2019 champions), Stevens and Pelham more frequently than last year. “We’re seeing more courses that we are not accustomed to playing regularly. We are looking to continue to work on our course management and build upon the skillset we have seen in the first days,” said Davis. “There is some really strong talent throughout the division.”

The Falcons will open their season on Sept. 2, but matches for other teams across the state begin on Wednesday.

CONCORD

Coach: Mark McDonough (5th year)

2020: 2nd in D-I

Outlook: The Tide finished second in D-I last year (the only division that will use stroke play in matches this season), finishing seven strokes behind the champions from Exeter. Despite losing its top golfer Sam Hopkins (ninth in D-I last year) due a move to South Carolina, there are several returning athletes with varsity experience – seniors Cam Brown, Parker Savoy, Dylan Miles, Cam McGonigle, and sophomore Gavin Richardson.

“We are still in a solid position to return to the state tournament with a strong group of returning players and some underclassmen like (sophomore) Jack Shoemaker and (freshman) Read Merrill ready to step up into the varsity matches this season,” coach McDonough said.

Freshmen Carl Sirrianna and Davis Bourgeois are other newcomers who provide depth to help Concord compete with the top teams in the division.

Teams to beat: Exeter, Bedford, Pinkerton

PEMBROKE

Coach: Beth Hamilton (12th year)

2020: 11th in D-II

Outlook: Andrew Chiavaras (junior) and Colby Pope (sophomore) are the only two returning starters to the Spartans out of 13 players on the roster.

“This year you could describe us as a bunch of newcomers with a lot of upperclassmen who have not played competitive golf, but do have some experience playing golf,” coach Hamilton said. “I am very pleased with our progress in only a few practices this week. We are in a very strong division, so match wins are tough to predict. I know we will always be ready to tee it up and compete in every match this season.”

Among the new upperclassmen to the squad are seniors Ryan Ardine, Caleb Barker, Summer Pecinski, and Matt Wagner, and juniors Leo Azevedo, Abby Duchesne, and Landon Pearson. Sophomores Cam Plumb and Dylan Towne, and freshmen Cameron Carter and Trevor Lemaire are the younger newcomers to the Spartans.

Teams to beat: Alvirne, St. Thomas, Windham, Hollis-Brookline

BELMONT

2020: 17th in Division III

Outlook: The Raiders will have new leadership after the retirement of 18-year veteran coach Kevin Charleston, but have a group of athletes eager to compete.

BISHOP BRADY

Coach: Trevor Moore (2nd year)

2020: 5th in D-III

Outlook: The Giants have three players returning from last season, including junior Chris Grimbilas, who was the team’s top golfer and qualified individual for the state championship where he finished 12th. Jack Allen and Brady Ziegler are the other returners for Brady, while Ayden Lockard, Parker Lavoie, Henri Brochu and Sarah Allen are newcomers to the squad.

COE-BROWN

Coach: Chris Mowers (4th year)

2020: 15th in D-III

Outlook: Mowers returns for his fourth stint as the Bears’ coach as Coe-Brown looks to improve on last year’s finish.

HOPKINTON

Coach: Dave Chase (6th year)

2020: 7th in D-III

Outlook: The Hawks return their top three golfers – senior Kody Dexter, junior Evan Fairneny and junior Hal Stokes – plus sophomore Zach Hopper from last year’s seventh-place team. With nine sophomores and freshmen on the roster, including standout freshman Bronson Ammann, the Hawks will be looking to see who can up into the top seven rotation. Dexter was ninth overall in D-III last year and should one of the best in the division again. As a team, Hopkinton is looking at finishing in the top four.

Teams to beat: Bow, Derryfield, Stevens

JOHN STARK

Coach: Denis Kolehmainen (1st year)

2020: 19th in D-III

Outlook: Veteran ice hockey coach Kolehmainen is taking over a program that finished 19th last year, but boasts a plethora of experience in Kyle Provencher, Jayden Lamothe, Anthony DeTone, George Reph III, Cody Ugarte, Seth Bolden, Jack Davis, Adam Morrissette, Nathan Peters and Caleb Hauptman.

“We have some experienced players that can hit the ball and score well,” Kolehmainen said. “We will be working on their consistency through out the round. Our middle of the pack players have parts of their game that they are good at and other parts that need more practice. Our less experienced players will gain experience on the practice rounds to get them ready for the years to come.”

Ethan Guevin, Josh Arden, Luke Bolden and Jackson Lochmandy provide new blood to the Generals’ roster.

KEARSARGE

Coach: Bubba Williams (5th year)

2020: 9th in D-III

Outlook: The roster size is down a little this year since Kearsarge is offering a full slate of team sports that weren’t offered in 2020, but the Cougars still have “three seasoned players” in senior Jake LaBelle, junior Meghan Blood and sophomore Charlie Reeve who all competed in state championships last year. Freshmen Ryan Donnelan and Owen Blood should also help the team in scoring, but according to coach Williams, “only time will tell how we will fare.”

Teams to beat: Derryfield, Stevens

HILLSBORO-DEERING

Coach: Brian McGinn (8th year)

2020: did not compete in D-IV tournament due to COVID-19

Outlook: For now, the Hillcats have just three players on the roster – senior Alaina McGullicuddy (eighth in girls’ medal flight), junior Cooper Dean and sophomore Liam Greene – but all of them are experienced players.

“We are hoping to having a winning record and qualify for state tournament as a team,” coach McGinn said.

Team to beat: Mascenic




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