Teeing Up a Title
From left, Hanover golfers Mattson Rosenbaum, Patrick Dyroff, Mike Yukica, Nate Choukas, Benny Hayes, Austin Taylor, Tom Peters and Nathan Roth. (Valley News - Greg Fennell) Purchase photo reprints »
Junior Mattson Rosenbaum marks his ball before putting on the first green. (Valley News - Greg Fennell) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover’s Nathan Roth follows his drive on the second hole at Canterbury Woods Country Club during the NHIAA Division II state team golf championship on Oct. 4. (Valley News - Greg Fennell) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover junior Tom Peters juggles a ball on the face of his driver while waiting for his turn on the third tee. (Valley News - Greg Fennell) Purchase photo reprints »
When the Hanover High golf team claimed the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Division II team golf championship in 2011, it did so following something of a stealth campaign. The Marauders entered as a sixth seed in the 12-school finals — a somewhat lower position than past squads — and needed a sixth-score tiebreaker to leave Canterbury Woods Country Club with a victory.
So, in some respects, this fall was a return to normal. Hanover headed into the NHIAA team states ranked second, with just one regular-season loss against 19 foes, yet buzzed through 12 schools for a 15-shot win and the program’s 18th NHIAA golf championship.
Throughout August and September, Hanover produced team scores indicative of a championship favorite. Out of a nine-date schedule of nine-hole matches, the Marauders shot 200 or better seven times. Hanover dropped just one head-to-head contest, falling by five strokes to top-seeded Windham at Goffstown’s Stonebridge Country Club on Sept. 18. The Marauders also tied with St. Thomas during a Sept. 14 date at Loudon Country Club, winning on a tiebreaker.
As it turned out, the Jaguars and Saints ended up as Hanover’s closest competition at states. The Marauders shot 388, beating 2011’s performance by 15 strokes. And that turned out to be the winning margin over Windham, with St. Thomas two shots further back.
“(It’s) not a surprise; I really figured it was going to be either us or Windham,” Hanover coach John Donnelly said after states. “They were very strong. They beat us fair and square during the year. I thought we had a good chance over 18 holes just because we’re pretty deep. I liked our chances, but I knew it was going to be close.”
Returning to Canterbury Woods on Oct. 4 for the team portion of the state championship, Hanover used its depth to counter the excellence Windham presented at the top of its eight-golfer lineup. When co-captains Nate Choukas and Benny Hayes came home with matching rounds of 1-over-par 73, the Marauders knew they were off to a good start. When the top two Jaguars, Connor Greenleaf (77) and Andrew Kalil (84), couldn’t keep pace, Hanover had its championship foundation in place.
Juniors Nathan Rosenbaum and Nathan Roth both carded rounds of 78, leaving Hanover as the only school in the 13-team final to produce four scores in the 70s. Freshman Patrick Dyroff’s 86 clinched the victory; when the day was done, only 15 strokes separated Hanover’s lowest score from its highest. Choukas, Hayes, Roth and Rosenbaum all qualified for the individual finals 48 hours later; Hayes (73-78—151) finished tied for third, with Roth fifth (78-74—152) and Choukas deadlocked for seventh (73-81—154).
If an NHIAA title can be called expected, this one qualified. In Choukas and Hayes, Hanover had two golfers at the top of every lineup who’d spent their summers competing in high-level junior and amateur tournaments. Five of the eight players to took to Canterbury Woods were on the roster than made the unexpected charge to a championship the previous fall.
Meanwhile, Donnelly continued to foster a competitive atmosphere through informal get-togethers, weekly practices and the season’s match schedule. Four members of this latest title-winning roster — Roth, Rosenbaum, Dyroff and Tom Peters — should return to form the nucleus of next autumn’s championship defense.
“I think we all really wanted to win and knew we could,” said Rosenbaum, who has fewer than three years of experience with the game, yet improved enough to hold down the No. 4 position on the team most of the season. “It’s a lot different from last year, because there were five really good teams. It was basically us and Windham this year.”
When the last ball dropped, it was just Hanover. Once again.