Golf: Concord’s Gavin Richardson and MV’s Andrew Surprenant claim individual titles 

By DAN ATTORRI

Monitor staff

Published: 10-15-2023 2:21 PM

Experienced golfers know that the game is as much about mindset as it is skill. Concord senior Gavin Richardson and Merrimack Valley senior Andrew Surprenant both practiced that on Saturday at Beaver Meadow overcoming shaky starts to become the Division I and D-II state champions, respectively, capping off historic seasons.

Richardson entered Saturday’s second round tied for second with Hanover’s Adam Goodney, one stroke behind Exeter’s Jascha Johnston, but Richardson bogeyed the first two holes, putting him three strokes behind Johnston.

A short conversation with head coach Mark McDonough was all it took to turn things around.

“My coach came over to me and reminded me to not take it too seriously and just to play like I’m having fun with friends,” Richardson said. “I was definitely more relaxed after that.”

He then had birdies on the fourth, eighth and ninth holes, and had an eagle on the 10th, and cruised from there.

Concord High plays its home matches at Concord Country Club, where Richardson is also a member, but he grew up playing at Beaver Meadow. The first and second holes should have been “pretty easy,” based on his familiarity with the course, but it’s all about mindset.

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“I just didn’t play them well,” Richardson said. “How good you play is mostly about your mentality. You can’t get angry over little things.”

Richardson finished the day with a round of 68. That, combined with last Tuesday’s first round at Canterbury Woods (the day the team championships were determined), gave him an overall card of 5-under 139, three strokes ahead of Johnston. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of Gavin getting the job done today in his senior year,” McDonough said. “He rallied the rest of the day to win his first individual championship. He has been in contention every year since he was a freshman and I’m so happy for him that he was able to finish so strong today. Gavin has been a phenomenal player for CHS since joining the team. He could always be counted on year after year and match after match to be medalist.He has been a team leader on and off the course and will really be missed next season.”

This victory also marks just the second time in program history that Concord has won both the D-I title team title and individual title in the same season.

Richard is Concord’s first individual champion since 2001, but you need to go all the way back to 1947 to find the only other time Concord and individual champion George Skarp swept the state titles.

“It feels great (to win), my (freshman and sophomore) years we came really close,” Richardson said. “It feels awesome being able to win the state championship as a senior. That’s what we were looking forward to and we were able to get it done.”

Like Richardson, Surprenant also focused on his mindset to claim the championship.

He entered Saturday as the D-II leader, one stroke ahead of Windham’s Thomas Manning. Surprenant had a bogey on the first hole, but made up for it with a birdie on the fourth hole and had pars on all but one hole the rest of the way.

“He started off on one with a bogey, but I could tell he was collected after that,” MV head coach Joe Dougherty said. “Everywhere from tee to green he was consistent. He didn’t get in his own head. He wasn’t trying to do too much and make any hero shots. He was just playing steady golf.”

Loudon Country Club is where the MV golf team calls home, but Surprenant lives near Beaver Meadow and grew up playing there. 

“I usually play at Beaver Meadow two or three times a week,” Suprenant said. “I had 15 pars (on Saturday), so it was a nice simple round. Not too much up and down.”

Surprenant has played a huge role in putting MV golf back on the back, a program that just finished its first varsity season since 2016. The Pride didn’t win a single match in 2015 or 2016, but went 18-10 this fall to earn a spot at the team championship. MV finished seventh at Breakfast Hill Golf Club earlier in the week.

“We just started the team, so a lot of our guys are pretty young and new to the game,” Surprenant said. “To have the newer guys get experience playing higher level golf has been pretty cool.”

“I’m very impressed with who he’s going to become as a golfer and as a young man,” Dougherty said. “He’s grown a lot over the three years that I’ve known him. With a new program, he’s done more than I could ask for. He’s leaving behind quite a legacy. He’s leaving behind something (his young teammates) can strive for and he’s been a great role model for them.”

Surprenant finished the tournament with an even par 142, six strokes ahead of Timberlane’s Stephen Ramos.

Elsewhere in D-I, Richardson’s teammates David Bourgeois (fourth, 154) and Zach Nelson (10th, 160) capped strong seasons at Beaver Meadow. Bourgeois, a junior, was often the No. 7 golfer in Concord’s lineup, but made a huge leap to finish fourth in the state.

“He peaked at exactly the right time,” McDonough said of Bourgeois, who was the medalist in the final two regular season matches. “To come back and shoot another incredible at Beaver Meadow was great and will do wonders for his confidence next season as a senior.”

Hopkinton junior Bronson Ammann finished his day as he started it, capturing the runner-up spot in the D-IV tournament. Mascenic’s Josiah Hakala had an eight stroke lead after round one and ended up carding a 6-under 137, a 23 stroke lead over Ammann.

Ammann’s score of 17-over 160 was two strokes better than third-place finisher Cooper Ladd of Gorham.

Hillsboro-Deering sophomore Gavin Ford (164) finished fifth.

In the girls’ championship, Bishop Brady’s Mady Savary moved up a spot to finish fourth in the state. Dover’s Carys Fennessy had a two-day total of an even par 143, while Savary finished 21-over with a 164.

The top six girls who competed at Beaver Meadow qualified via the first round held at Campbell’s Scottish Highlands on Sept. 30

“(Mady) really gutted it out, she had a great back nine (at Beaver Meadow),” Bishop Brady head coach Jason Bird said. “She showed a ton of toughness coming off the 47 in the front (scoring a 38 in the back). She had a ton of support from her team, we are so proud.”

Bow’s Sean Guerrette (tied sixth, 12-over 154) and Owen Webber (16th, 166) were the other area competitors in D-II, while Coe-Brown’s Jack Smith (tied eighth, 28-over 171), Alex Myslinsky (tied 10th, 174) and Hunter Demas (14th, 178) and Kearsarge’s Charlie Reeve (16th, 188) competed in D-III.