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Hanover High Wins N.H. Boys Golf Championship

  • Phin Choukas, of Hanover, reacts as his ball skirts the edge of the 16th hole during the NHIAA D-II team golf finals at Rochester Country Club, in Rochester, N.H., Thursday, October 11, 2017. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Peter Lukovitis, of Hanover, tees off on the 12th hole during the NHIAA D-II golf finals at Rochester Country Club, in Rochester, N.H., Thursday, October 11, 2017. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Phin Choukas, of Hanover, reads the 15th green while waiting to put during the NHIAA D-II team golf finals at Rochester Country Club, in Rochester, N.H., Thursday, October 11, 2017. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, October 12, 2017

Rochester, n.h. — So dominant was Hanover High at Thursday’s NHIAA Division II team golf championship that not even everyone who advanced to Saturday’s individual final counted toward its team score.

A program-record six players made the cut for Hanover, which easily captured its fifth title in seven years and 20th overall with a 13-stroke win over 2016 champ Windham, 417-430, at Rochester Country Club.

Hanover was a perfect 36-0 this season, while the Jaguars (35-2) won every match not against Hanover.

Defending individual champ Phin Choukas led the way with a 5-over-par round of 77 for the Marauders, and the senior is second behind Kingswood’s Sam Barton (73) heading into Saturday. The Green Knights placed seventh.

Senior David Lehmann and sophomore Jack Meehan each scored 83, junior Peter Lukovits shot 86, and senior Gavin Koehler and sophomore Patrick Daley landed 88s, sending a half-dozen Marauders to the individual finals for the first time.

Hanover coach John Donnelly — who won his eighth Class I or D-II championship in 15 seasons leading the program — was the event director on Thursday. After all the scoring was tallied, he was eager to let his team know about their program milestone while exiting the clubhouse to join them with the plaque outside. “It’s a record! It’s a record!” he said.

After watching his team all season, Choukas wasn’t that surprised with the results.

“I talk about this a lot, but again I think it came down to our depth,” the senior said. “Every year we have a lot of players come out, and we spend a lot of time practicing, going back to the beginning of the summer with captains’ practices.”

Choukas was at 2-over 36 at the turn, eagling the par-five second hole before four straight bogeys and a birdie-bogey-par to finish the front nine. Barton, meanwhile, hit a par or birdie on six straight holes to turn at 1 under.

After a pair of bogeys to start the back nine, Choukas hit a birdie or par on four straight to keep pace with Barton. Choukas struggled over high grade slopes and greens over the last several holes — typical of much of the layout at Rochester — including a double-bogey 6 on the 393-yard 17th hole before a par on 18 to finish four strokes back.

Barton, who placed third at last year’s individuals, finished with pars on both 17 and 18.

“It’s a tough course. The greens are fast, and the par-3s are long,” Choukas said. “I didn’t hit my best round today. It’s going to have to be better to catch Sam on Saturday, but the team championship is definitely what’s most important.”

No one else hit a birdie for Hanover, though Meehan shot par on half of the 18 holes, and Lehmann did so on eight to help the Marauders stay well in front. Meehan, during one stretch, parred on five straight holes, and Lehmann did so on four straight, each on the front nine.

“There are some long holes out there, and some hills,” said Lehmann. “I had my 9-iron out a couple times to get onto the green.”

The Jaguars (35-2) — who have lost to Hanover on tiebreakers twice since 2011 and edged Portsmouth by one stroke for last year’s crown — graduated three of their top golfers from 2016, including two-time individual champ James McKee, now golfing at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

Still, Windham ran the table this season when it wasn’t facing Hanover — but the margin was significant. On Sept. 25, the Marauders flexed their depth when Lukovits led the field with a 39 and four of his teammates trailed by five strokes or fewer in a 208-223 win at Windham Country Club.

Andoni Tsoukalas (81), Vincent Ruggiero (82) and Nico Nardone qualified for Saturday for the Jags.

“This whole season, we’ve had to play our best golf to win,” Windham coach Ken Bourassa said. “We didn’t do that either time against Hanover, but that’s to take nothing away from them. They’re a very good team year in and year out.”

The Marauders spend a lot of time practicing, which they say is made easy thanks to the accommodations of Hanover Country Club. Unlike many teams, Hanover practices several times per week on their home course.

“There’s a culture at Hanover Country Club that’s very friendly to junior golf, and there has been for a long time,” Donnelly said. “Plus, it’s a great course with great practice holes. I think our guys appreciate that and make good use of it.”

Chip Shots: Chris Cadman and Pat MacDonald, of third-place Hollis Brookline, both shot 79 and were the only other golfers to shoot under 80. ... Kingswood coach Bill Barton, Sam’s father, is a New London native. ... Kingswood (453), Kennett (454) and Portsmouth (455) finished within two strokes of one another. ... Choukas’ older brother, Nate, is a senior and golfer at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. ... either Hanover or Windham has won every team title since Bedford’s win in 2010. ... Hanover’s five titles in seven years is not its first run of dominance. Prior to this stretch, the program won D-II, Class I-M-S or Class I championships in 1981-84, 1986, 1989-91, 1993, 1997, 1999-2000, 2004 and 2006-07.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3225.