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2021 HS golf preview: Fairways, green and high hopes

  • CJ Naugler, right, gives Lydia Redman, center, pointers as she lines up her putt while teammates Aubree Herzog, left, and Raegyn Brothers watch during a Stevens High School golf practice at Claremont Country Club in Claremont, N.H., on Monday, August 23, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America — Alex Driehaus

  • Joshua Petrin pulls his bag behind him as he walks along the course during a Stevens High School golf practice at Claremont Country Club in Claremont, N.H., on Monday, August 23, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

  • Olivia St. Auvin tees off during a Stevens High School golf practice at Claremont Country Club in Claremont, N.H., on Monday, August 23, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

  • Reeve Wilkinson putts during a Stevens High School golf practice at Claremont Country Club in Claremont, N.H., on Monday, August 23, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 9/2/2021 12:01:26 AM
Modified: 9/2/2021 12:01:33 AM

While Hanover High continues to debate what its next mascot should be, the school’s golf program may have an option by example this fall: nomads.

The winningest links program in NHIAA history lost Hanover Country Club when Dartmouth College shuttered the facility over budget issues more than a year ago. Eighteen-hole home course advantage? Gone. Practice area a short ride from home? Pfft. Junior programs to get kids into the game? Never mind.

Zach Temple has done a good job of adjusting on the fly. Now in his second year as Hanover’s coach, Temple — the former Hartford High and Castleton University golfer — has used friendly connections to give his team various places to work out. Between his Quechee Club employers, West Lebanon’s Four-U Golf Center and Fairlee’s Lake Morey Country Club, Hanover has received a helping hand in a tough situation.

“It’s a mixed bag, but it works,” Temple said recently. “Without a home course in Hanover Country Club closing, finding a home or homes has been a big challenge, one we’ve embraced and do not take for granted. It doesn’t matter where we are the kids are; they’re there to learn and improve.”

Hanover continues to battle the state’s biggest schools in NHIAA Division I. Stevens, which matched a program best with a runner-up finish at states last year, again joins Lebanon in NHIAA D-III. Hartford, Windsor and Woodstock will again unite in VPA D-II; of the three, only the Hurricanes qualified for states last fall.

Rivendell, with new coach Sam Kamel, is still trying to determine the size of its team. Mid Vermont Christian and Newport will focus on growing young programs over competition.

HANOVER

Coach: Justin Temple (2).

Last year: Placed ninth out of 15 teams at D-I state tournament.

League: NHIAA Division I.

Home courses: Lake Morey Country Club, Fairlee; Quechee Club, Quechee; Four-U Golf Center, West Lebanon.

Returnees: Seniors — Spencer Lawe, Casey Graham, John Hill, Trevor Pierce. Junior — Dylan Jopp. Sophomores — Andrew Cahoon, Adam Goodney.

Newcomers: Senior — Maxwell Galbraith.

Analysis: With multiple places to do his teaching, coach Zach Temple will look to improve Hanover’s fortunes with a smaller-than-usual roster. He called last year’s state tournament “our worst performance as a team,” but the experience level of the golfers coming back leaves him with a solid foundation for 2021.

“The practice plan I have come up with and game-time strategy is compiled of the good and bad from previous coaching experiences,” Temple said. “I took what worked, grew upon it and threw out what didn’t. The ongoing joke on our team is that during practices we will hit more putts and chips than all the other teams in the state combined — and I don’t doubt it.”

HARTFORD

Coach: Mike Hathorn (7).

Last year: Finished sixth at D-II states despite playing just two matches due to pandemic-shortened regular season.

League: VPA Division II.

Home course: Quechee Club, Quechee.

Returnees: Junior — Joseph Barwood. Sophomores — Jaden Poirier, Asher Bettwieser.

Newcomers: Senior — Hailey DeFabiis. Sophomores — Christian Hathorn, Gavin Brothers. Freshmen — Matt Tsouknakis, Rowan Irvine, Sebastian Lorenz, Sebastian Fraser, Jenna Buffum.

Analysis: The Hurricanes maximized their talent in 2020’s shortened season, winning a fifth straight Southern Vermont League crown and reaching states at the Country Club of Barre. Barwood qualified for New Englands and will anchor a young roster lacking any seniors. The arrival of DeFabiis and Buffum give Hartford and second-year girls coach Erin Stevens its first female players in several years.

“Our goal is to try and get two players ready to compete in tournaments with Joseph and Jaden, to give our team a shot to compete for the league title and try to qualify for states,” Mike Hathorn said. “Joseph has worked hard on his game and looks to be one of the top players in the state this year. Jaden has a ton of potential and a great swing.”

LEBANON

Coach: Matt Dancosse (2).

Last year: Finished eighth out of 19 teams at state tournament.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Home course: Eastman Golf Links, Grantham.

Returnees: Seniors — Nathan Stark, Zach Bitler. Juniors — Roy Shapard, Sean Miller, Dawson Bates, Sam Bates, Alex Blish.

Newcomers: Seniors — Ethan LaHaye, Aaron Bavos. Sophomore — Jack Clary.

Analysis: Dancosse’s first season at the helm saw the Raiders bump up a notch on the final standings at states. With a veteran roster returning fronted by Stark (91 at states last year), Shapard (92) ad Blish (97), Lebanon has high hopes for continuing its upward progress.

“We return a solid core of players with varsity experience,” Dancosse noted. “We have a lot of good depth. Our No. 10 player is just as likely to contribute in varsity matches as our top guys. We are still relatively new to golf. We will have to adjust to traveling and getting back to our original schedule pre-COVID.”

STEVENS

Coach: Ryan Seaver (7).

Last year: Finished second at D-III states, matching program’s best prior championship performance.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Home course: Claremont Country Club, Claremont.

Returnees: Seniors — Reeve Wilkinson, CJ Naugler, Matt Eagan. Junior — Cedric Allen.

Newcomers: Junior — Catie Bliss. Freshmen — Zach Perkins, Ian Gersberg, Josh Petrin, Lydia Redman, Justin Demers.

Analysis: While the Cardinals lost their two top players from last year, Finn Allen and Dylan Adamovich, to graduation, they still have a lot left in the tank after the program’s best season in two decades. Wilkinson, Naugler and Eagan all regularly filled out the Stevens lineup, and junior Cedric Allen provides depth as the Cards work with a slew of newcomers.

“This is a team that really gets along with each other and knows how important it is to teach the game of golf to each other and ask questions about how to do certain things,” coach Ryan Seaver said. “We are constantly trying to learn course management and what the smart decision is. Sometimes it’s all about taking your medicine and punching a shot out. If we can stick to these strategies, we are going to have a successful season.”

WINDSOR

Coach: Pat Allen (9).

Last year: Didn’t qualify for state tournament.

League: VPA Division II.

Home course: J.P. Larkin Country Club, Windsor.

Returnees: Senior — Bryce Moody. Junior — Noah Abernethy. Sophomores — Lee Bevis, Owen Roberge.

Newcomers: Sophomore — Carter Buckley. Freshmen — Hudson Buckley, Gavin Martin, Helen Ennis.

Analysis: The Yellowjackets have been busy working on their games this summer, giving coach Pat Allen optimism about the coming campaign. Windsor has seen a couple of scheduled matches canceled, and Allen is hopeful of finding fill-ins to give the Jacks more competition time.

“Honestly, I’m really excited about the group that we have,” Allen said. “We have a lot of incoming freshmen who have been practicing since sixth grade with us. I’ve seen some nice improvements. They’re eager to learn and get going.”

WOODSTOCK

Coach: Larry Wentzel (6).

Last year: Didn’t qualify for team state tournament. Senior Emily Dean finished third at VPA girls championship.

League: VPA Division II.

Home course: Woodstock Country Club, Woodstock.

Returnees: Seniors — Liam Harper, Will Duane. Juniors — Ethan Dean, Will Coates, Jake Carey, Owen Kross, Chris Bradley.

Newcomers: Sophomore — Tori McNamara.

Analysis: Coach Larry Wentzel is only starting to get an idea of what this year’s Wasps can do. What he does know is junior Ethan Dean — who also works at Woodstock CC — is capable of shooting in the high 70s and low 80s over 18 holes, making him a potential threat come individual states.

“Some of these kids have played all summer long in summer leagues; Ethan played all summer long, and a couple of others have, too,” said Wentzel, who started the Woodstock program nearly 40 years ago. “I expect them to step up this year.”




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