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A Learning Curve at VPA Golf Championships

  • Hartford High School's Kobe Labonte hits his ball out of the rough on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, during a VPA golf final at the Green Mountain National Golf Course in Killington, Vt. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hartford High School's Kobe Labonte hits his ball out of the rough on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, during a VPA golf final at the Green Mountain National Golf Course in Killington, Vt. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hartford High School's Kobe Labonte hits his ball out of the rough on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, during a VPA golf final at the Green Mountain National Golf Course in Killington, Vt. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor High School's Devon Beland watches his ball after teeing off on the eighth hole on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, during a VPA golf final at the Green Mountain National Golf Course in Killington, Vt. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hartford High School's Brady Hathorn hits his ball out of a bunker on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, during a VPA golf final at the Green Mountain National Golf Course in Killington, Vt. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor High School's Ben Meagher watches his ball after hitting it out of the rough on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, during a VPA golf final at the Green Mountain National Golf Course in Killington, Vt. (Valley News - Charles Hatcher) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Killington, Vt.— Hartford High sophomore Brady Hathorn took mixed feelings away from the 18th hole of Green Mountain National Golf Course during Wednesday’s Vermont Principals Association golf championship.

It had been one of the best rounds of his life: nine pars and a birdie on the par-71 course to finish with a team-low 87 — the first time he’d finished below 90 in a tournament, he said. But Hathorn left the course frustrated knowing his score could have been lower, having triple-bogeyed two of his last three holes and double-bogeying on the other.

“I guess I got nervous and had a lot of blow-up holes,” Hathorn said.

Such are the growing pains of an up-and-coming program that continues to voyage in uncharted territory. Hartford finished fifth among six schools at the VPA Division II tournament, 64 strokes behind first-place Harwood. It was Hartford’s second state tournament appearance in four months after making its first state tournament visit since 2010 last spring. Hurricane head coach Mike Hathorn — Brady’s father — said he was pleased that his team was able to shave 32 strokes off its spring tournament score.

“I have four sophomores here today, and I think the buzz has already started for next year,” Mike Hathorn said. “Having the spring and fall, it’s almost like this has been one long season.”

For Hathorn the coach, tournament golf still feels unfamiliar to his group, one made up mostly of young athletes. Hartford added sophomores Logan Raymond, a talented lacrosse player who was free to join the golf team when it switched to a fall schedule, and Justin Jasmin, a Hartland resident who transferred from Hanover’s prestigious program over the summer.

Mike Hathorn admitted the additions have added to Hartford’s depth and put the rebuild back on schedule, to the point where he expects his group to compete for a D-II title as early as next season. Hartford sophomore Jared Vanderpot finished behind Hathorn with a 99. Jasmin shot a 104, Raymond had a 108 and senior Kobe Labonte finished with a 120.

“As far as courses go, this was one of the more challenging ones we’ve played all year,” Mike Hathorn said.

Brady Hathorn said there are things about his game he still needs to improve. Some of it, he admitted, is likely confidence and mental rather than swing mechanics. But another part is figuring out his passion for the game and just how much he wants to push himself.

“I think part of it is, over the summer, making the decision whether I want be a good golfer, trying and competing to get those really low scores,” Hathorn said. “Breaking 90 is not a bad golf score. But if I want to have a shot at competing at (June’s New England) regionals, I need to improve over the summer.

“My game has gotten a lot better (in the last calendar year),” he added with a sigh of frustration. “I shot a 90 (in the spring). I’ve gotten much more than three strokes better.”

For now, Mike Hathorn is taking advantage of his son’s drive to impact the rest of his group.

“I think it’s providing a lot of competition is practice,” he said. “When you have someone that has a passion for the game, it can trickle down through the team.”

Hartford’s coach said expectations will be high again next year, with his established players pushing to see just how far their talent can take them.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the kids after they get a spring warmup where, they’re not playing for a team but just out there, working on their games,” Mike Hathorn said. “Having four juniors leading the way, it’s a nice thing to look forward to.

“Next year, we want to come in hoping to compete for a championship, not playing ourselves, trying to beat last year.”

Windsor finished fourth out of four competing teams in the Division III tournament, 117 strokes back from the winner, Stowe. Senior Jacob Curtis led the way with a 111.

“It was a little tighter than we were used to,” Windsor head coach Pat Allen said. “I think we had a little trouble just getting off the tee. It was a challenging course, but I’m proud of the kids for sticking with it and finishing strong.”

For Allen, the future is a numbers game. Talented seniors Ben Meagher, who finished with a 128, and Curtis will graduate in the spring, leaving the Yellowjackets with lower numbers than Allen is comfortable with. Windsor was one of the last teams from D-III to send a full squad to Green Mountain National, with only four athletes.

“I’ve started having that conversation with kids (in grades) 5 through 8, trying to get the junior high kids going,” Allen said. “But Ben and Jacob have been great natural leaders these last four years. I’m glad for them; I’m glad for Devon (Beland, a senior), too. … I’ve just got to reach out to the younger levels, make it exciting for them and get a little bit of a farm system going in Windsor.”

Notes: Mike Hathorn echoed a positive sentiment about Vermont golf’s change of seasons, one that seemed to be shared by many at Green Mountain National. “From a playing perspective, (my team) came into the season more ready for the season, and golf courses were in 100 times better shape. … We played in the rain twice all year. Whereas in the spring, it’s hard not to play in the rain, everything’s wet, you’re just battling water all spring. This fall has been great.” … Rutland ace Logan Broyles was disqualified for playing both a provisional ball and his original ball, which was lost and then later found, on the 10th hole. The result sunk Rutland to third place behind the D-I winner, Essex. Harwood’s Aiden Melville shot a 71 for the D-II medal, and Stratton Mountain’s Harrison DiGangi, the lone individual in competition, won the D-III medal with a 76. … Jared Nelson, from Rutland, shot a day-low 70 and was the only athlete to finish below par. … The top 10 finishers will be eligible to compete at the New England tournament, which will take place in June at Bretwood Golf Course in Keene, N.H.

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.