Without Austin Fox, Section II’s undisputed top player, Bethlehem would have still been a force in the Class A golf tournament. But with that unassuming yet multi-talented junior in the lineup, the Eagles have put together one of the most dominating seasons in recent history.
Fox carded what he termed an “OK” even-par 72 to grab medalist honors, fellow junior Ryan Davis finished second with a 75, and Bethlehem posted a score of 306 to win the large-school team title Wednesday at Eagle Crest Golf Club.
Saratoga Springs, paced by sophomore Nathan Crowley’s 76, finished second with a 317, and Shenendehowa, led by Mike Westfall’s 78, was third with a 321. It was the same finish at the Suburban Council Championship two weeks ago.
Twenty-five players, including Niskayuna’s Nick Rumsey and Guilderland’s Colin Buyck, who each posted 76, made the cut at 83 or better. They will advance, along with the top Class B and Class C-D finishers from Tuesday, to the New York State Qualifier, Oct. 13 and Oct. 15 at Orchard Creek.
Bethlehem coach Dick Villa admitted that this year’s team seemed to know it was special. It’s been that kind of season for his entire roster. He even had a breakthrough year with his own game, including a recent albatross after taking lessons from Schenectady Municipal head pro Matt Daley.
“Our expectations have been higher this year,” Villa said. “We’ve got three or four guys on this team who have been playing for a long time, including some who have been on the roster since they’ve been in seventh grade. There is a lot of experience on this team. We only have one senior in Tyler Hull.”
Villa said the Eagles have done just about everything they were expected to, including winning the league tournament and posting a perfect 14-0 conference record: “It was nice to do all of that, but this is what they really wanted.”
When told his team might have won the Class A tournament even without Fox’s score, Villa pointed out that his ace provided more than just low numbers this season.
“Austin helps us tremendously. He’s been our anchor all year,” Villa said. “He carried us. I think the winning formula in the Class A tournament has been to get 3 or 4 players under 80. That’s what Albany Academy did, and they blew out everyone when they won the title.”
Rounding out the Bethlehem team were Henry Manley (79), Hull (80), Mike Mullen (83) and Pat Mattis (89).
Fox was his usual low-key self after winning medalist honors by three shots over his teammate. “It was a beautiful day, and I thought the scoring would be pretty good,” he said. “This course played longer than Van Patten for the Suburban Council tournament, but it wasn’t that much of a factor. I drove the ball well, and I hit 13 or 14 greens.”
Fox birdied the fourth and 10th holes. He suffered back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 14 and 15.
Davis was also a force for the Eagles. He rolled in consecutive birdies on the 12th and 13th holes, and he also made a key up-and-down par on the par-3 17th hole to keep his round going. “We have a lot to play for this season,” Davis said. “We have a lot of juniors on this year’s team, and we all have plenty of experience. We expected to do a lot.”
Saratoga picked up its second straight runner-up finish to Bethlehem in a major with help from Crowley, who used a hot putter to birdie the fourth and fifth holes.
“I hit most of my fairways, and I hit a lot of greens,” he said. “I just had a few bogeys, when I missed a few makeable putts. This is my first time going to the state qualifier. It should be fun.”
AJ Cavotta (79), Joe Thomas (80) and Colton Hart (82) also had their scores count for the Blue Streaks and will advance to Orchard Creek next week.
Shenendehowa’s balanced lineup featured Westfall, long-hitting Tommy McPartlon (80), Paul Goetz (81) and Angelo Cafaro (82). They will also play next week at Orchard Creek.
Rumsey, a junior for Niskayuna, registered four birdies to earn a spot in the state qualifier along with teammate Tyler Gregory (82). “I was hitting the ball really well, but I also had my putter going today,” Rumsey said. “I made it to the state qualifier last year, but I didn’t make it to the state tournament. That’s something I would like to do this year.”
Team scores: Bethlehem 306, Saratoga Springs 317, Shenendehowa 321, Guilderland 328, Queensbury 334, Niskayuna 334, Albany Academy 341, CBA 343, Shaker 345, LaSalle 359, Averill Park 359, Ballston Spa 362, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 376.
Qualifiers: Austin Fox (Bethlehem) 72, Ryan Davis (Bethlehem) 75, Nathan Crowley (Saratoga Springs) 76, Colin Buyck (Guilderland) 76, Nick Rumsey (Niskayuna) 76, Mike Westfall (Shenendehowa) 78, Noah Bonn (Queensbury 78, AJ Cavotta (Saratoga Springs) 79, Henry Manley (Bethlehem) 79, Tyler Hull (Bethlehem) 80, Joe Thomas (Saratoga Springs) 80, Tommy McPartlon (Shenendehowa) 80, Ryan Warnick (Albany Academy) 81, Jake Manderson (Ballston Spa) 81, Ryan Munro (CBA) 81, Will Burger (Guilderland) 81, Paul Goetz (Shenendehowa) 81, Tyler Gregory (Niskayuna) 82, Josh Bonn (Queensbury) 82, Colton Hart (Saratoga Springs) 82, Angelo Cafaro (Shenendehowa) 82, Greg Wyman (CBA) 82, Mike Mullen (Bethlehem) 83, Grayson DeMarco (Saratoga Springs) 83, Madison Braman (Shaker) 83.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports