By BRIAN JENNINGS
If the Blue Knight golf team qualified for the Division I championship, it would have been a great accomplishment, considering the team they graduated from last season. Now, the Knights could be looking at the top-12 for the state competition after they were on the outside looking in for most of the season.
Over the course of the past three weeks, the Knights have beaten three teams they lost to earlier in the season. Maturity and familiarity with competition have helped them settle in and finish off the regular season with a pair of wins and a five-match winning streak. It has also helped them to grow.
“From a start to finish and going from one year to the next, in terms of improvement, this has been probably one of the best years that I can ever say since I’ve been here,” said Southington coach Jim DiNello. “It’s going to be interesting to see where we finish up, but it’s just great that we’re going to go to states. It’s just a great accomplishment for the guys.”
The number of three-putts and bogeys are the biggest aspects of the game that Southington golfers have been able to eliminate from their scorecards down the stretch.
“Understanding that, sometimes, bogey is not a bad score is another big deal too,” the coach said. “It takes birdies to get rid of the double bogeys, or at least semi-cancel those out to a degree. We fall into it every now and then, but it’s much better than the beginning of the year.”
Southington finished the regular season at 8-8 overall (5-4 home, 2-5 away), placing third out of five teams in the CCC Central Blue with a regional record of 6-7 and divisional record of 3-5. The CCC Central Blue title will be decided between Glastonbury and Hall this week.
The Knights will enter the postseason when they travel to Stanley Golf Course in New Britain for the CCC championship on Thursday, June 1.
Win at Conard
MAY 22—Southington’s first go-around at Rockledge Golf Club in West Hartford wasn’t a pleasant one after the Knights fell by 11 strokes to Hall in the beginning of the month. However, the Knights returned to Rockledge on Monday against another West Hartford team, managing to edge out Conard by two strokes, 162-164.
“It was raining, and the course was a little soggy,” said DiNello. “We ended up playing the side of the golf course that we’ve never played before, and the kids did a really good job.”
Nate L’Heureux was the only Southington golfer to shoot in the 30s, leading the Knights and the field with a 38 as medalist of the match. CJ McManus (40), Cam Zegzdryn (42), Shawn McInerney (42) contributed as well.
Win vs Bristol Central
MAY 24—A couple days later, the Knights closed out the regular season by earning their fifth-straight win with a 151-190 triumph over Bristol Central at home. The 151 was Southington’s second-lowest score on the year.
McManus was medalist of the match with a 35. L’Heureux (38), Mike Zera (39), and freshman Austin Carta (39) contributed as well.
Carta became the third freshman to start in a varsity match for Southington this season.
“That’s huge in itself,” said DiNello. “Their demeanor is really great, and they don’t really get too frazzled. They just do their thing because their swings are good enough. They don’t try to overpower the course and just take what the course gives them.”
MAY 25—Heavy rain and 30 to 40 mile-per-hour winds didn’t stop the Blue Knights from sending L’Heureux and Zera to Longshore Golf Course in Westport to represent Southington in the 48th annual Chappa Invitational, as the pair tied for 17th out of 39 teams with a 75.
“They helped each other and talked a lot,” said DiNello. “I was an umbrella runner in trying to do my best to keep the guys dry in between shots. They did a really good job.”
Wethersfield’s Mike Murphy and AJ Sanzaro edged out Notre Dame-West Haven’s Finn Boynton and Tommy Rosati on the first playoff hole (1st hole) to win the best-ball invitational. Both pairs came into the clubhouse with even-par 69s.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/05/30/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-june-2-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.