Duanesburg’s Grant, Fonda-Fultonville WAC golf champions

ERICA MILLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Fonda-Fultonville junior Colin Kowalski lines up a putt during the Western Athletic Conference golf championship tournament on Thursday at Hopson Hills Golf Course in Dolgeville.

ERICA MILLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Fonda-Fultonville junior Colin Kowalski lines up a putt during the Western Athletic Conference golf championship tournament on Thursday at Hopson Hills Golf Course in Dolgeville.

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, High School Sports, Sports

DOLGEVILLE — Duanesburg senior John Grant made good on a vow at Thursday’s Western Athletic Conference golf championships, and Fonda-Fultonville players made their shots like they had all season long.

Grant earned medalist honors for the second time in three years, and the Braves followed up their division title with a first-place performance Thursday at scenic Hopson Hills Golf Course.

Fonda’s Colin Kowalski placed second, and schoolmate Noah Moran tied for third in the individual chase, and Grant’s effort anchored a runner-up team showing for the Eagles on a sunny, yet blustery day on the par-37, nine-hole layout.

“I won it two years ago, and it feels good to win it again as a senior,” Grant said. “It’s a good way to go out.”

Grant, who started on the eighth hole, carded a 3-under-par 40, which included a pair of late birdies.

“I had a bad round the other day, and my coach sent me a text after,” Grant said. “He goes, ‘Do you plan on giving 100% [at the WAC championships]?’ My answer was, ‘I’m going to give more than 100% because I plan on winning.’ ”

Grant did just that, but his start, he said, wasn’t as smooth as he would have liked.

“I started off real bad, and then I made a birdie on the fourth hole,” Grant said. “My round turned around right there. That just sparked my round.”

Grant has been playing golf since he was 2 years old, and has been a key figure in Duanesburg’s starting lineup since he was in the seventh grade.

Last year, he tied for sixth at the WAC championships to help Duanesburg snare the team title at Hales Mills Country Club, which was the site of his first individual victory in 2018.

“He can smash the ball more than anyone I’ve seen,” Duanesburg coach David Schalekamp said. “I’ve seen him make clutch putts. He chipped in for one of his birdies today. He’s a good all-around player with an incredible passion for golf.”

Schalekamp said Grant likes to see fellow players do well, too.

“He’s always helping others be better,” Duanesburg’s second-year coach said. “In our last match, I saw him helping a guy on the other team work on a slice. Who does that?”

Kowalski turned in a 42, while Moran and Evan Crouse of Fort Plain tied for third at 43 in the 40-player field that included four girls.

“I was one-over through five holes,” Kowalski said. “I lost a ball, and that’ll come back and bite you.

“I wanted to win,” the junior added. “John is a good player.”

Fonda got the team win, though, just as it did last winter in the WAC Cup basketball title game when Kowalski’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the second overtime lifted the Braves over Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about consistency,” Kowalski said of Thursday’s 176-stroke team triumph. “We’ve had that all year. We had one hiccup against Duanesburg.”

Fonda won the WAC South Division title with a 7-1 record, while Northville/Mayfield, Canajoharie and Galway shared the North Division top spot at 6-2.

“We have four guys who can shoot in the low 40s any day,” Fonda coach Kyle Hanson said. “Today, they all had it.”

John Bruno of Middleburgh placed fifth with a 44, and Fonda’s Alex Saltsman (45) and Cayden Egelston (46) tied for sixth and 10th, respectively, to aid their team’s win.

“We came out and did our job,” Kowalski said. “We all had our role, and we did our role.”

“It was an awesome year,” Hanson said. “We are glad we had a season with everything going on, and we accomplished quite a lot. I am very proud of them.”

Duanesburg finished with a 184 team total, followed by Canajoharie (203) and Schoharie (206).

As a COVID-19 safety measure, tournament teams were reduced from six to four players, and each four-player group consisted of two players from one team and two players from another, rather than grouping them all based on their regular-season results. Also, the nine-hole format replaced the 18-hole format that was previously used.

During the regular season, matches were played over six holes.

“We are grateful that our superintendents were all on board and let us do this,” Middleburgh coach and WAC golf coordinator Rick Thaxter said.

Teams: Fonda-Fultonville 176, Duanesburg 184, Canajoharie 203, Schoharie 206, Northville/Mayfield 208, Middleburgh 213, Galway 214, Fort Plain 224, Berne-Knox-Westerlo 242, OESJ 245.

Individuals: Grant (D), 40; Kowalski (FF), 42; Moran (FF), 43; Crouse (FP), 43; Bruno (Midd), 44; Saltsman (FF), 45; Morganstien (Scho), 45; Boltri (BKW), 45; Krug (Can), 45; Zelezniak (Gal), 46; Egelston (FF), 46; Polley (Scho), 46.

Reach Jim Schiltz at [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.

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