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Waterford - Several pre-Eastern Connecticut Conference Open golf tournament favorites teed off in the same group on Thursday afternoon.
Judging by the final scores, they certainly thrived in that competitive atmosphere.
Tourtellotte senior Mike Jezierski raised his game to the highest level, shooting a 3-over 74 to earn medalist honors at Great Neck Country Club. He beat runnerup John Aitken of Killingly by two strokes.
His playing partners also finished in the top seven as Killingly sophomore Drew Aitken (77) placed third, East Lyme senior Connor Callaghan (78) fourth and Stonington junior Sam Ognisty (81) seventh.
"I really, really liked that this year because it's great to play with people that score well and hit good shots because it puts you in that mindset to do the same," Jezierski said of his foursome. "I was very happy this year that we were able to play with good golfers."
It also was an excellent day for Killingly, which repeated as team champion with 336 strokes. Woodstock Academy (345), East Lyme (347), Norwich Free Academy (350) and Tourtellotte (353) rounded out the top five.
"We knew John and Drew were going to have good rounds," Killingly coach Kevin Marcoux said. "Just as it has all year, it came down to three, four and five. And two of the three came through, which is great. These kids worked hard. They earned it."
East Lyme came away disappointed. Coach Rudy Bagos couldn't explain why the Vikings have struggled in the ECC Open in recent years.
"I don't know if they put too much pressure on themselves, or what," Bagos said. "I just know in years' past I've had some really good teams that just haven't played well in this tournament. It still doesn't take away what these kids have done."
Bagos was thrilled with Callaghan's performance.
"He's just a great kid," Bagos said. "I'm glad he's finishing his high school career on a good note."
Callaghan had his best finish in an 18-hole tournament. He completed the front nine with a 37, recording a birdie on the par 5 second hole. After a rough start on the back nine, he recovered nicely to shoot a 41.
"It was obviously a great score, but I feel like I may have left a few strokes out there," said Callaghan, who will attend Elon (N.C.) University this fall. "I missed some putts inside five feet that I should have made, but that's a great score for me. I'm very happy."
No one could match shots with Jezierski, who got off to a great start, firing a 1-under 34 on the front. He rode out the speed bumps on the back nine to post an impressive score.
It was Jezierski's first ECC Open title.
"I've played in so many tournaments for all four years of high school," said Jezierski before learning that he had won the title. "I've kind of always been there for the most part but I've never really been able to pull through. Just winning this would be a huge relief and I would be so happy."
Several other local golfers went home happy.
Waterford junior Matt Shea and Fitch's Luke Teixeira each fired an 80, tying for fifth. Jack Sullivan (83) and Justin Bohara (85) finished eight and ninth, respectively.