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Jags Snag a Title: Unbeaten Windham Ends Hanover’s Reign at Top

  • Hanover teammates, from left, Patrick Dyroff, Griffin Palmgren, Andrew Keddy and Nathan Roth, recap their games following play at the NHIAA Division II golf championships at Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord, N.H. Thursday, October 10, 2013. Hanover finished third.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Hanover teammates, from left, Patrick Dyroff, Griffin Palmgren, Andrew Keddy and Nathan Roth, recap their games following play at the NHIAA Division II golf championships at Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord, N.H. Thursday, October 10, 2013. Hanover finished third.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lebanon's Hunter Marsh wipes off his club head after teeing off on the 17th green during the NHIAA Division II state golf tournament at Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord, N.H. Thursday, October 10, 2013. Marsh shot an 87 on the par-72 course.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Lebanon's Hunter Marsh wipes off his club head after teeing off on the 17th green during the NHIAA Division II state golf tournament at Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord, N.H. Thursday, October 10, 2013. Marsh shot an 87 on the par-72 course.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hanover's Nathan Roth follows his shot toward the 18th green during the New Hampshire Division II state golf tournament at Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord, N.H. Thursday, October 10, 2013.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Hanover's Nathan Roth follows his shot toward the 18th green during the New Hampshire Division II state golf tournament at Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord, N.H. Thursday, October 10, 2013.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Lebanon's Conner Tilton chips out of the rough onto the 14th green at Beaver Meadow Golf Course during the state tournament in Concord, N.H. Thursday, October 10, 2013. Tilton finished with a 104.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Lebanon's Conner Tilton chips out of the rough onto the 14th green at Beaver Meadow Golf Course during the state tournament in Concord, N.H. Thursday, October 10, 2013. Tilton finished with a 104.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hanover teammates, from left, Patrick Dyroff, Griffin Palmgren, Andrew Keddy and Nathan Roth, recap their games following play at the NHIAA Division II golf championships at Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord, N.H. Thursday, October 10, 2013. Hanover finished third.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Lebanon's Hunter Marsh wipes off his club head after teeing off on the 17th green during the NHIAA Division II state golf tournament at Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord, N.H. Thursday, October 10, 2013. Marsh shot an 87 on the par-72 course.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Hanover's Nathan Roth follows his shot toward the 18th green during the New Hampshire Division II state golf tournament at Beaver Meadow Golf Course in Concord, N.H. Thursday, October 10, 2013.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Lebanon's Conner Tilton chips out of the rough onto the 14th green at Beaver Meadow Golf Course during the state tournament in Concord, N.H. Thursday, October 10, 2013. Tilton finished with a 104.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Concord — Well, how ’bout that? Seems you can teach a teenager something after all.

Golf is less a test of physical endurance and more an examination of character. After seeing undefeated regular seasons go to waste in the NHIAA Division II state championship the last two Octobers, the Windham Jaguars decided to do something about it on Thursday.

Summoning up memories of past disappointments and the quiet confidence built from them, the Jaguars ended Hanover’s two-year state title run at Beaver Meadow Golf Course. Not that it was a surprise: The Jags (32-0) entered states top ranked and unbeaten and left the same way, powered by first-round leader Connor Greenleaf’s 1-over-par 73.

Windham’s 395 topped second-place St. Thomas by 12 strokes. Hanover took third at 412, while Lebanon finished sixth out of 12 schools at 431.

“They’re quite deep, and they’re a year older,” Hanover coach John Donnelly said. “They deserved it, definitely. They were the class of the division.

“It’s consistency all through the eight spots. I think they have eight solid players, and they’re really enthusiastic and dedicated to the game.”

Not to mention possessors of applicable memory.

Two years ago at Canterbury Woods Country Club, the Jaguars — with Greenleaf one of two fronting stars as a sophomore — played the Marauders stroke for stroke but lost the championship on a sixth-score tiebreaker. With seniors Benny Hayes and Nate Choukas anchoring, Hanover pipped Windham again last year by 15 shots, even though the Jaguars entered with the better regular-season mark.

Those disappointments fueled Thursday’s championship.

“Last year, we had to hand it to Hanover; they played really well,” said Greenleaf, who will take a three-shot lead into Saturday’s individual finals, where he is defending champion. “But this year, senior year, we finally got the W. I couldn’t feel any better.”

Being able to combine excellence with a compact set of five scores usually produces a recipe for victory. Windham had that.

Greenleaf didn’t go as low as he was capable, but it was certainly a good starting point. One-over-par at the turn, the Boston College-bound golfer birdied the Beav’s 10th and 11th holes back to back and rarely put himself in a position of peril.

“If we’d won the first time, we would have thought, ‘Oh, man, we are always going to win,’ I guess,” Greenleaf said. “We didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves this time.”

The Jaguars’ five scoring golfers all tallied 83 or better, and all qualified for Saturday. Freshman James McKee served as team runner-up at 6-over 78.

“The bus ride home is going to be so much different today,” Windham coach Ken Bourassa said. “The last couple of years, it was so close; two years ago, it was a tie and we had to go to the sixth card. All the way home, everybody was remembering the little lip-outs, the little 2-inchers that they didn’t take the time to look at. I had a couple of kids that were wiping tears off their eyes. It was very quiet, very somber going home.

“Today is different. These kids wanted this so bad today. But on the way up here, they were confident. They were, ‘We’re gonna get this, we’re gonna get this.’ ”

Greenleaf’s round set the pace, giving Windham a quick seven-stroke lead on Hanover and a nine-shot edge on St. Thomas. The Saints would receive a 5-over-77 from No. 2 Brendon Scheffer, a 7-over 79 from No. 4 Mike Keilty and would send five players to Saturday as well, but the numbers couldn’t catch those of the Jaguars.

Similarly, Hanover had consistency but not the eye-popping figures required to keep pace. The Marauders’ top two, Nathan Roth (80) and Mattson Rosenbaum (81), booked return trips to the second round, joined by Patrick Dyroff (81) and Chris Lehmann (83). Sophomore No. 8 Griffin Palmgren’s 87 completed Hanover’s scoring.

Part of Roth’s day exemplified Hanover’s plight. A fine approach on the dogleg ninth led to a 1-foot birdie putt and a 4-over front nine, but the senior came back with a double-bogey 7 on the ensuing par-5 10th.

Roth could have found much more trouble than he did from then on, resourcefully getting up and down for bogey on 14 and par on 15. He mostly avoided the big numbers, but never could get any momentum going.

“He didn’t have his best day, for sure,” Donnelly said. “He’s an excellent player, and he’s done very well for us in years past. He just didn’t have a great day. Other than him, we were pretty much where we should be.”

Lebanon coach Chris Pollard felt the same way about his Raiders. With a roster light on experience, Lebanon entered the Beav seeded fifth and left sixth, led by solo Saturday qualifier Nabeel Kahn’s 84.

As with Hanover, the Raiders packed their scores into a tight group, but the numbers couldn’t keep up with what Windham presented. David Albright (86), Garrett White (89), T.J. Barber (85) and freshman Hunter Marsh (87) accounted for Lebanon’s tally.

Marsh’s round was unanticipated, and Barber’s was a welcome result after a season filled with struggle.

“I was hoping for what we came in on, and a couple of scores I wasn’t expecting,” Pollard said. “Hunter Marsh was really here to get the experience and enjoy it. I wasn’t expecting much out of him, and he comes in with (87), which is a great score for him. …

“The way we played all season (was) a little bit up and down to where we finished today. I’m happy. I’m proud of them all. I can’t complain.”

Chip Shots: The top nine teams of the 12 competing put at least one golfer into Saturday’s individual final. … Pollard gave his No. 8 slot to senior Connor Tilton, who saw limited action this year and had never played states before. Topped by a camouflage baseball cap, Tilton shot 104. … Sara Feith, one of St. Thomas’ five counting scores (84), will not play Saturday for having participated in last weekend’s girls individual states in Salem. Feith shot 88 at Campbell’s Scottish Highlands to finish fifth in the 18-hole championship flight. Discounting Feith, the minimum 24 golfers qualified for Saturday at the cut line of 12-over 84. … The Raiders (21-10) lose Kahn, White, Tilton, Corey Huckins and Dylan Gaudette to graduation. … Hanover (26-5) will need to replace three graduates: Roth, Rosenbaum and Conor Nagle (89).

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.