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    Sunday, May 19, 2024

    H.S. boys’ and girls’ golf / 2024 preview capsules

    East Lyme’s Tyler Moore watches his tee shot during a match against Stonington last season at Elmridge Golf Course in Pawcatuck. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Stonington’s Ethan Torres putts during a match against East Lyme last season at Elmridge Golf Course in Pawcatuck. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    East Lyme’s Sebby DeCosta hits the ball from the fairway towards the green during a match against Stonington last season at Elmridge Golf Course in Pawcatuck. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    NFA's Caroline Goderre hits a chip shot during a match last season. (Photo courtesy of Tim Cook/NFA)

    Following are the 2024 high school preview capsules for boys’ and girls’ golf:

    Boys

    ECC

    Division I

    East Lyme

    Coach: Rudy Bagos (20th season)

    Key returnees: Jr. Tyler Moore, Jr. Jack Bucko, Jr. Sebby DeCosta, Sr. Nate Blankenship, Sr. Andrew Bartolotta.

    Top newcomers: Sr. Max Weston, Sr. Carter Summers, So. Ethan Legg, Fr. Syum Khanna.

    Outlook: East Lyme returns everyone from last year’s team which won the ECC Division I championship and finished second at the ECC tournament. That experienced roster includes The Day’s Golfer of the Year, Sebby DeCosta, who tied for second at the league tournament at Quinnatissett Country Club with a 75. Bucko and Moore joined DeCosta on the All-ECC Division I all-star team, as well as The Day’s All-Area team. Bagos looks for the Vikings to remain competitive. Weston competed last year at NFA, finishing tied for sixth in the ECC with an 80.

    Fitch

    Coach: Glen Graham (20th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. Charlie Bergendahl, Sr. Gianni Drab, Sr. Cole Faulkner, Sr. Jack Barie, So. Nathan Johnson, Jr. Matthew Casanas.

    Outlook: Graham is looking forward to having six returning golfers to compete in a strong division and the Falcons will also have nine newcomers (two juniors and seven freshmen) to help offset the loss of last year’s four seniors. Bergendahl and Drab, Fitch’s top two scorers at last year’s ECC meet, will serve as co-captains.

    NFA

    Coach: Bill Howard (28th season)

    Key returnees: Jr. Nick Wigfield, Sr. Liam O'Neil, So. Marcelo Raposo, So. Cooper Kilpatrick.

    Top newcomers: Fr. Tyler Hollis.

    Outlook: Wigfield was the No. 1 golfer for the Wildcats last year and Howard said he is “vastly improved” since then. NFA will lean on senior leadership from O'Neil and improved contributions from Kilpatrick and Raposo to compete in every match. Meanwhile, Howard calls Hollis “an exciting young prospect.”

    (Woodstock Academy also competes in Division I.)

    Division II

    Bacon Academy

    Coach: Dave Mason, Craig Kupper

    Key returnees: Sr. John Ceruti, Sr. Alex Gallardo, So. Devon Kudrak, So. Sawyer Nauss.

    Top newcomers: Fr. Aidan Toennes, Sr. Kevin Claffey, Sr. Logan Dimitri, So. Jordan Julian.

    Outlook: Because of the depth of the roster, Mason believes that the team-wide competition for matches will help improve each player. Gallardo is an All-ECC honorable mention selection and will provide senior leadership along with Ceruti to help bolster the play of the newcomers. The Bobcats graduated two of their top five in Connor Tuttle and Robert June.

    Stonington

    Coach: Scott Smilinich (6th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. Ethan Torres, Sr. Dane Yaworsky, So. San Olmstead, Jr. Seamus Doyle.

    Top newcomers: So. Connor Foley, So. Jacob Graham, Jr. Jack deLabry.

    Outlook: The Bears lose three of the their top five golfers, with Torres taking over the top spot for All-ECC pick Brandon Tavares, who graduated. Yaworsky, Olmstead and Doyle will fill the 2-4 spots, with Smilinich hoping to build the new lineup while still remaining competitive within the division and for the ECC and state tournaments.

    Waterford

    Coach: Katie Pesko (8th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. Jacqueline Tran, Sr. Jacob Beardsley, So. Lucas Vincenti, So. Ethan Haynes, So. Brennan Bunnell, Jr. Jason Bace.

    Top newcomers: Fr. Wyatt Haynes, Fr. Drew Palmieri, Fr. Luke Donahue, Fr. Patrick Lombardi, Jr. Cooper Sheehan.

    Outlook: Waterford has several strong players in the top four, including Beardsley at No. 1 and Vincenti, who led the Lancers as a freshman last year by firing an 85 at the ECC tournament, at No. 2, as the team looks for a consistent fifth. Tran is the only girl on this year’s team but Pesko said several matches have been scheduled for her to gain experience competing against other girls. Overall, the team is significantly young, with many beginners. “A significant portion of the season goals include helping the younger, less experienced players learn the game fundamentals as well as supporting the veteran students who have experience playing golf improve their skills,” Pesko said. The coach said that Haynes, a freshman, will fit in somewhere in the top five. Pesko is assisted by Jami Petchark.

    (Killingly also competes in Division II.)

    Division III

    Griswold

    Coach: Paul Richards (42nd season)

    Key returnees: Jr. Gennaro Lavado, Jr. Cooper Wilson, Jr. Brayden Lee, So. Owen Pappas.

    Outlook: The returnees, including Lavado, who shot an 86 at last year’s ECC tournament to earn first team all-league honors, have been playing since they were freshmen and have now gained significant experience. Unlike previous seasons, numbers are not an issue, with 13 players on the roster including numerous freshmen and sophomores. Wilson and Pappas were ECC honorable mention selections. Richards believes the Wolverines will be competitive within the division.

    (Montville, New London and Windham/Parish Hill also compete in Division III.)

    Division IV

    Wheeler

    Coach: Carl Weber (15th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. Keiran Boscoe, Sr. Cameron Conway, Sr. Gavin Arruda, Sr. Tyler Signor, Sr. Will Raggon, Jr. David Levanto.

    Top newcomers: Fr. Jaxon Davis, So. Ryan Colsen, Fr. Aiden Boscoe, Fr. Zach Paige, Fr. Gabe Dobley.

    Outlook: The Lions return four of five varsity starters from last year’s team which went 17-1 and won the Division IV title, placing third in the ECC tournament for the best finish in program history. Conway returns in the No. 1 slot, having finished seventh in the ECC tournament last year with an 82. He was joined as an all-conference first team selection by Boscoe, Signor and Arruda, with Boscoe named to The Day’s All-Area team. Said Weber: “The outlook for the team is to build off the success from last season and to win ECC Division IV, compete with the larger schools for the ECC tournament title and compete for the state Division III title.”

    (Plainfield, Putnam and Tourtellotte also compete in Division IV.)

    Others

    Grasso Tech

    Coach: Thomas Allen (28th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. Nathan Sylvestre, Sr. Ian Main, Sr. Charles Goede, Sr. Ted Allen, Sr. Luca Iglesias, Sr. Jacob Major.

    Top newcomers: Fr. Brady Marr, Fr. Logan Holt, Fr. Lincoln Whewell, Sr. Carson Rowley.

    Outlook: With six seniors returning and the addition of four new golfers, Grasso Tech’s future looks bright. The existing team members have done a “great job recruiting new players from the student body,” Allen said, and the coach is looking forward to a successful season in the Connecticut Technical Conference.

    Old Lyme

    Coach: Kirk Kaczor (16th season)

    Key returnees: Jr. Manu Geronimo, So. Mike DeFiore, Jr. Justin Bonatti.

    Top newcomers: Fr. John Morosky, Fr. Sam Edmed, Fr. Arthur Riccio.

    Outlook: The Wildcats have seven freshmen and, with the loss of three seniors, Kaczor said the team, which competes in the Shoreline Conference, is in the building process. “We need to be more competitive and I feel like the players we have are working hard to improve,” Kaczor said. “Last year we did not make the state tournament and it is a goal this year to make the tournament.” Old Lyme graduated its No. 1 golfer, Alex Chrysoulakis.

    Girls

    ECC

    Bacon Academy

    Coach: Dave Mason, Craig Kupper

    Key returnees: Sr. Mia Belcamino, Sr. Olivia Tellar, Jr. Olivia Sobota, So. Abby Stillwell.

    Top newcomers: So. Leyia Hall.

    Outlook: Bacon returns its entire roster, led by seniors Belcamino (a first team All-ECC pick) and Tellar. Underclassmen Sobota and Stillwell return for another year, having improved their games during the offseason. Mason said he is looking forward to seeing the progress translate on the course this spring.

    East Lyme

    Coach: Jeff Handler (1st season)

    Key returnees: Sr. Georgia Anglin, Sr. Kayli Johns, Sr. Lola Hoffer, Sr. Morgan Dube.

    Top newcomers: Fr. Avery Cordes, Fr. Cailin Delaney, Fr. Charlotte Ganoe, Fr. Savannah Marusov, So. Alaina Sartori.

    Outlook: With the Vikings returning five seniors from last year's team which won the ECC tournament championship, the team looks to remain competitive and qualify for the state tournament. East Lyme shot a 214 to win the league tournament at Connecticut National Golf Club by two strokes over Woodstock Academy, with Dube (54) and Hoffer (56) among the top 10. The Vikings graduated All-ECC pick Mary Haburay, who tied for fifth at the ECC championship.

    NFA

    Coach: Jessica Chapman (2nd season)

    Key returnees: So. Caroline Goderre, Sr. Madeline Smith, Jr. Erin O'Farrell, Jr. Alexa St. Germain, Jr. Rianna Cavanna.

    Top newcomers: So. Lila Smith, Fr. Addison Cuff.

    Outlook: Goderre, The Day’s All-Area Girls’ Golfer of the Year in 2023, finished third in the ECC with a 47 and will be what Chapman calls a “driving force” for the Wildcats. NFA returns three all-conference picks in Goderre, Smith and O’Farrell. Chapman uses O’Farrell’s dedication to improving her swing in the offseason as an example of the team’s commitment to excellence. Said Chapman: “With strong leadership from seniors Madeline Smith and Alexa St. Germain, many skillful players and a determination to succeed, the team is poised to make a significant impact in the ECC this year.”

    Stonington

    Coach: Scott Smilinich, Brianna Azzinaro

    Key returnees: Jr. Rory Risley, Jr. Taya Kelly, So. Adilyn Risley, So. Allison Mentz, So. Maizy Alu.

    Top newcomers: So. Finn O'Keefe, Fr. Jaime Halloran.

    Outlook: Stonington returns most of its squad from a year ago, including the Risleys, who each shot a 52 to lead the Bears at the ECC championship. Adilyn Risley will occupy the No. 1 spot, with big sister Rory at No. 2. Said Smilinich: “The girls look to build on their experience from last year and become a more competitive team within the conference and set their sights on qualifying for the state tournament.”

    (Killingly and Woodstock Academy also compete in the ECC)

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