The quickest of the high school fall sports seasons begins this week, as the golf schedule gets underway.
Just about eight weeks from today, Berkshire County — and Western Massachusetts — golf teams will be battling for championships.
Lee is the defending Western Mass. Division III champion, and will get an opportunity to defend its crown on Oct. 25, at the Wyantenuck Country Club in Great Barrington.
Pittsfield and Taconic, both of whom qualified for play in the Western Mass. Division I tournament, will be vying for spots in this year's tournament. The D-I tourney will be played at The Ranch in Southwick.
Mount Greylock, North co-champions with Pittsfield, will battle to be one of several Berkshire County representatives in the Division II tournament. That is scheduled for Crestview Country Club in Agawam.
The state championships will be held one week later.
Coach: Don Dagnoli (10th year)
Home course: Stamford Valley Golf Course
Last year: 5-10
Key returnees: Ryan Dube, Jr.; Jude Collins, Soph.; Connor Kelly, Soph.
Outlook: The Blue Devils lost six golfers and coach Don Dagnoli has seven athletes on this year's team. Veterans Jude Collins, Ryan Dube and Connor Kelly will lead the Drury team, and there are four eighth graders that Dagnoli said could be very good. "They all look like they have some potential," Dagnoli said. "We're in a total rebuilding phase."
Coach: Jason Sniezek (18th year)
Home course: Forest Park Country Club
Last year: 6-9
Key returnees: The Hurricanes, in the words of their coach, are "still young. They all played last year. We've been playing with young kids for a couple of years now." Senior Jack Sniezek, the coach's son, is the upperclassman on the team and will lead this young group that includes his brother Henry, a freshman. Sophomore Derek Alibozek, cousin of former Hoosac standout Chad, sophomore Hayden Grimes and freshman Luc Trombley, will start the year at the top of the Hurricane lineup.
Coach: Brian Gill (2nd season)
Home course: Waubeeka Golf Links
Last year: 13-2, tied Pittsfield for North Division championship, fourth in Western Mass. D-II tournament
Key returnees: Kyle Alvarez, Sr.; Bennett Zimmerman, Jr.; Ben Gilooly, Soph.
Outlook: The Mounties dropped only two regular-season matches and finished fourth in Western Mass. Of Greylock's five scorers, three return. The group is led by senior Kyle Alvarez, who had the No. 2 score last year at Western Mass. Bennett Zimmerman and Ben Gilooly are the other returning veterans. Senior Mark Hayden and junior Tenley Smith — who played goalie for the Greylock girls soccer team last year — are key newcomers. "We're looking to see what they can do," said Gill.
Coach: Chris Polidoro (5th year)
Home course: Country Club of Pittsfield
Last year: 13-2, seventh in Western Mass. Division I tournament
Key returnees: Kevin Quinto, Sr.; Ricky Berrian, Sr.; Justin Martin, Sr.; Jake Driscoll, Sr.
Outlook: When you're discussing the Generals, it kind of all starts with Kevin Quinto. Quinto won the First Division of the Berkshire Hills Singles and had a hole-in-one on the par-3, 13th hole, in the opening round of the tourney. "The way he plays, the way he acts, he's at a different level," Pittsfield coach Chris Polidoro said. Quinto is one of six seniors on the Pittsfield squad, joining Ricky Berrian, Jake Driscoll and Justin Martin as returners from last year's Western Mass. Tournament team.
Coach: Mike Hillman (7th year)
Home course: Berkshire Hills Country Club
Last year: 8-8, qualified for Western Mass. D-I Tournament
Key returnees: Mike Kays, Jr., Ross Omelenchuck, Sr.; Brett Murphy, Sr.; Tim Curry, Sr.
Outlook: Hillman has a seven-member team, but he said he's pretty confident in its abilities. Things start with junior Kays, who Hillman said should be playing out of the No. 1 spot for the Braves. Three seniors — Curry, Murphy and Omelenchuck — will be in the thick of things. Hillman said Murphy and Omelenchuck, who spent most of the summer playing baseball for Pittsfield Post 68, should round into shape quickly. Curry and sophomore Connor Champoux have played a lot of golf this summer.
Coach: Pete Terpak (18th year)
Home course: Wahconah Country Club
Last year: 7-5, 7th in Western Mass. Division II Tournament
Key returnees: Jon Dos Santos, Jr.; Colette Basiliere, Sr.; Noah Bracci, Sr.; Vinnie Orlandi, Sr.
Key returners: It was a rough ending to the season for the Warriors, who had high hopes when they arrived at Cranwell for the Western Mass. Division II tournament. Gage Frazier, who graduated in June, had the day's best score for the Warriors at 91. Coach Pete Terpak has to hope the Warriors remember what happened, but don't repeat it. Jon Dos Santos and Colette Basiliere were at Cranwell and will lead the Warriors, along with Noah Bracci and Vinnie Orlandi. Freshman Nathan Dos Santos, Jon's brother, is part of a group of five newcomers. For his part, Jon Dos Santos said that he's confident the team can make some noise in the North, in Western Mass., and at States.
Coach: Matt Carlino (4th year)
Home course: Greenock Country Club
Last year: 13-2, won Western Mass. Division III title.
Key returnees: Thomas Fraser, Soph.; Bryce Whalen, Sr.; Hunter Roosa, Jr.; Colin Finnegan, Jr.
Outlook: The Wildcats won the Western Mass. D-III title last year, beating runner-up Monson by eight strokes. "I'm putting it on the guys," coach Matt Carlino said. "They should expect to be there for Western Mass.," in October. The Wildcats graduated co-medalist from Western Mass. Devyn Olds, but they do have four returning veterans. Sophomore Thomas Fraser, who was fifth last year, leads the way. Senior Bryce Whalen and juniors Hunter Roosa and Colin Finnegan also return. Lee had 19 players try out, and Carlino said that a good crop of seventh graders bodes well for the future.
Coach: Dick Salinetti (13th year)
Home course: Cranwell Resort
Last year: 5-8, finished eighth in Western Mass. Division III Tournament
Key returnees: Josh Hunter, Jr.; Zach Zurrin, Sr.; Ricky Armstrong, Soph.
Outlook: There are 17 Millionaires on Coach Dick Salinetti's roster, and only four of them would be considered upperclassmen. That number includes two sophomores. Twelve of the Lenox golfers are either seventh or eighth graders. "Hopefully, if we do well in the league, we can make Western Mass.," said Salinetti. "I'm optimistic about the future." This year's team starts with junior Josh Hunter, the captain and a four-year veteran. Senior Zach Zurrin and sophomore Ricky Armstrong are also returning vets, with eighth-grader Matthew Shields. Seventh-grader Max DiGrigoli, according to Salinetti, shows "tremendous potential." Shields and Armstrong competed in Western Mass.
Coach: Rick Iemolini (3rd year)
Home course: Wyantenuck Country Club
Last year: 3-10
Key returnees: Lexi Shumsky, Sr.; Matt Iemolini, Jr.; Dylan Tinker, Soph.
Outlook: The Spartans have what their coach believes is the first girl to captain a boys' sport in senior Lexi Shumsky. Shumsky spent the summer working with Kay McMahon at Cranwell and Iemolini said Shumsky is "much improved. She's the only senior. She's definitely a leader." Matt Iemolini, the coach's son, is a key veteran while sophomores Dylan Tinker, Max Joyner and Graham Herrick are also part of the Monument core. The goal, according to the coach, is "to get to Western Mass., which we missed by a few shots."
Coach: Fred Finkle (9th year)
Home course: Egremont Country Club
Last year: 0-11
Key returnees: Colby Bleau, eighth grade; Colby Stevens, eighth grade.
Outlook: Veteran head coach Finkle said his team will be very inexperienced. There are 10 Eagles on the roster, but Finkle said most of them are in grades 7, 8 or 9. "I enjoy having the young guys. We can teach them," he said. "We can work with them. It's hard to say a pair of eighth graders are "veterans," but that's what Finkle calls Colby Bleau and Colby Stevens.
Coach: Fran Brilliant (10th year)
Home course: Pontoosuc Lake Country Club
Last year: 5-9
Key returnees: Mike Gingras, Sr.; Connor Thurston, Sr.; Jake Felix, Jr.
Outlook: The Crusaders started with six returning veterans, but coach Fran Brilliant said two transferred to other schools. That leaves St. Joe with four, but Brilliant said he hopes the numbers go back up once school starts. As the Crusaders take to the Pontoosuc Lake Country Club course, they will look to senior Mike Gingras to lead the way. Brilliant said Gingras spent a lot of the summer working on his short game, and the coach believes Gingras "has the ability," but has to be more consistent.
Coach: Corbin Brassard (3rd year)
Home course: Forest Park Country Club
Last year: 5-5-2, tied for sixth at Western Mass. Division III tournament
Key returnees: Brad Tatro, Sr.; Jake Tower, Sr.; Brian Boudreau, Sr.; Cole Kratz, Jr.
Outlook: The Hornets enter 2016 with a renewed sense of optimism. That is keyed by the coach as Brassard says, "I feel the best I've felt in my three years here. We have a lot of guys who have experience. We have better depth." Brad Tatro helped lead McCann to the D-III tournament. He, Kratz, Tower and Boudreau are returning vets among the 15 who originally came out for the team. Freshman Ryan Baron is one of the newcomers to watch.