By John Goralski
Coach Jim DiNello had no idea what to expect when he watched his team tee off on Thursday, May 1. Torrential rains had turned the Southington course into a wet sponge. Fairways were wet. Cart paths were muddy, and greens were slower than Los Angeles traffic.
Nobody would have predicted Southington’s lowest score of the season.
“They kind of took what the golf course gave them,” said the coach. “I talked to the guys, and nobody was really in any trouble all day. When you do that, it makes for okay scoring conditions whether it’s dry or wet. It was just one of those days where nothing went against us. We hit into the fairway. We kept it in play, and we hit greens and putted well.”
Drew Szandrocha wasted no time. The sophomore duffer scored three birdies on the first three holes. He scored par on three of the last five holes and beat his closes competitor by three strokes with an even-par 34.
“When you’re three under after three holes, you’re feeling pretty good,” said DiNello. “He just came out super hot and made his putts. That was all she wrote.”
Southington finished with four of the top five scores. Jacob D’Alessandro scored 37. Eric Flood scored 38, and Dave Valentukonis capped the scoring with an even 40. The Knights won easily, 149-164.
“When you have three of your four guys go under 40, I don’t know how much lower you can go than that,” said Dinello. “Any time you’re under 160 it’s a pretty good day. Any time you’re under 150, that’s a great day. I like where we’re at right now.”
The game came on the heels of Southington’s worst score of the season. On Tuesday, April 29, the Knights lost to Simsbury, 154-161, at Simsbury Farms Country Club, but DiNello was pleased with the effort.
“It was another one of those difficult condition days,” he said. “The wind was whipping around pretty well on a course that we only see once a year. But we’re sitting on five matches, and our high score is a 161? There’s a lot to be pleased with at this point.”
Trojan golfer Nick Krisel earned medalist honors, going one-under with a 35, but D’Alessandro paced the Knights with a 37. Velentukonis (40), Ryan Burrill (41), and Szandrocha (43) contributed as the Knights kept pace with one of the state’s top programs on their own course.
DiNello said that consistency will be the measure as the Knights go forward. Seven of the last 11 matches are at home, and that should help Southington position themselves for a postseason run.
The Knights will be busy with a match in New Britain on Tuesday followed by home contests on Wednesday and Thursday.
“It’s supposed to be a good week next week, and they’re finally predicting good weather,” said the coach. “We have three matches and two are at home. We’re just looking for everybody to be consistent.”