AMHERST -- It didn't appear as if Lee golfer Jared Fadding wanted to give up the trophy he clutched with both hands.
"I'm going to let it go at some point, unfortunately," said Fadding with a laugh.
After all, it's been a climb for the Wildcats to finally qualify for the MIAA Division III golf meet. The Wildcats brought the runner-up trophy home to Lee on Monday afternoon, finishing five strokes behind Western Mass. champion Hopkins Academy.
"We really did" think getting a trophy was possible, he said after the awards ceremony. "We have a great feel as a team. We're really solid.
"We wanted to win, but making any mark is just what we needed to do."
Fadding shot a team-best 80 and helped the Wildcats finish with a 344 total. Hopkins, playing on its home course at Hickory Ridge Golf Club, earned the championship with a 339.
"Last year, we finished fourth," said Fadding. "Improvement's always good."
"We knew we had the talent to qualify and get to states. We were hoping, of course, to get the win today," Lee coach Matt Carlino said. "We thought we'd give Hopkins a run for their money. We came up a little short."
It was a tight finish as third-place Pioneer Valley (346) finished only two shots behind the Wildcats. Even St. Joseph, led by Andy Cella's 80, finished eight strokes behind the Wildcats.
By virtue of shooting 80, Cella was one of seven individuals to qualify for next Monday's state championship at Wyantenuck Country Club in Great Barrington.
"I thought [the 80] would at least get me the sixth spot. I knew the kid who shot 70 was going to win," said Cella. "I was just hoping for a sixth-place to clinch a spot in states."
"The kid," as Cella called him, was Cody Booska of Franklin Tech. Booska ran away and hid to earn his second Western Mass. individual title in as many seasons. Booska shot 2-under-par 70, closing with a 2-under back nine to get a 9-stroke victory over three other golfers. Booska shot 72 last year to win at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield.
Cella played in a threesome with Booska and Monson's Rob Scibelli. Scibelli finished with a 95 and was out of touch early. Cella, however, tried to stay within striking distance of Booska, who finished fourth in Sunday's PVIAC tournament, shooting 80 at Veterans Golf Club in Springfield.
Booska shot 36 on the front and 34 on the back nine. Cella did say that when someone is playing that well, a little bit of confidence can filter down. He hit 10 consecutive pars and that helped stabilize his final score.
" If he's having good holes, I try to do the same and try to keep up with him," said Cella. "It's kind of hard."
Fadding started his round on the 18th hole but by the time he was midway through the front nine, he ran into a little bogey trouble. The Wildcat bogeyed the par-3 fifth and double-bogeyed the par-5 sixth before settling down. A birdie-3 on the seventh hole will do that for you.
Andy Consolati shot 81 for Lee, with Devyn Olds getting 88, Thomas Fraser and J.T. Sorrentino getting 95, ad J.T. Brown shooting 98. Devin Farnum of Mount Everett shot 87.
"I'm not incredibly happy with the score as a total. It could have been better," said Fadding. "Winning as a team is the biggest thing to do. There's nothing better than being part of a team that's successful."
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