State golf championships will be earned today across Massachusetts. Western Massachusetts Division II champion Drury and Division III runner-up Lee will be seeking second trophies for their school's case.
The Blue Devils will head to Central Mass. to play in the state Division II tournament at the Blackstone National Golf Club in Sutton.
Lee won't have to travel very far because the rest of the state will be coming to Berkshire County. The state championship will be played at Wyantenuck Country Club in Great Barrington.
The Blue Devils and Wildcats will be sending full teams of golfers to their respective tournaments, and they will be joined by a pair of Berkshire County individual golfers.
Owen Hunter of Monument Mountain qualified for the Division II tournament. Andy Cella of St. Joseph qualified in last week's Division III tourney, and will play today.
All three tournaments have shotgun starts. The Division I tournament starts at 9 a.m., Division II at 9:30 and Division III at 10.
Drury coach Don Dagnoli said he and his team traveled to Sutton on Sunday, practiced on the par-72 course and stayed overnight at an area motel.
"It's a pretty challenging course," Dagnoli said of Blackstone Valley. "It's pretty hilly. It's not a walking golf course. It's designed for cart riders."
Dagnoli said Blackstone is 6,396 yards, but it's not one of those courses for the so-called bombers.
"It's narrow," the Drury coach said. "The emphasis is on the tee shot and accuracy with your irons."
There are four par-5 holes on the course. The second hole is 564 yards and is the longest hole on the course.
Nick Bator also qualified as an individual, and he'll be playing with Wes Millbury of Danvers, Kole Kelly of Belmont and James Shalhoup of Oliver Ames. That foursome will tee off from the third hole.
Drury's No. 1 golfer Matt Lawrence will tee off from the first hole with Andrew Lilly of Belmont, Alec Tzianabos of Reading and Drew Benshof of Concord Carlisle. Both Lilly and Tzianabos shot 2-over 72 at the North Division II tournament at Hillview Golf Course in North Reading.
"I think he's excited. I think it's an honor for him," said Dagnoli of Lawrence getting to tee off from No. 1. "We won our section and Concord Carlisle won their section."
The top golfer for Concord Carlisle is Jack Kingman, who was medalist with an even-par 70.
The other sectional champions are Dartmouth from the South Cape Cod section, Oliver Ames from the South Shore and Nipmuc from Central Mass.
By finishing second last week at Hickory Ridge in Amherst, the Wildcats earned a trip to a state tournament that won't require them to travel that far.
The distance from Lee High School to Wyantenuck is only 15 miles, so the Wildcats won't have to spend a lot of time traveling today. They also have some experience at the Great Barrington course because it is league rival Monument Mountain's home course.
"Wyantenuck is a tough track," Lee coach Matt Carlino said. "It's probably more difficult than [courses] we usually play. It's a good test for our team.
"[Golf is] one of those sports where the course matters so much."
The Wildcats played nine holes at Wyantenuck on Sept. 25, and Jared Fadding had the low score with a 42. He and the rest of the Wildcats played 18 late last week.
"Jared had a good practice round," said Carlino.
Fadding will be one of two groups teeing off from the first tee. He will be playing with Western Mass. D-III individual champion Cody Booska of Franklin Tech, along with Bryce Avilla from South Shore runner-up Cohasset and Curtis Bourque from Central Mass. champion Douglas.
Carlino said that Fadding will be ready for the challenge of playing with some of the top players in the state.
"Jared is a good player who works hard at his game. He deserves [that spot]. It'll be exciting," said the first-year Wildcat coach. "When he gets into the competition, he thrives on it."
Carlino said he and his golfers have an idea of what they want to shoot, and if they can get that number -- no matter where they finish -- they'll be satisfied.
"We want to play the best golf we can," he said, "and not make too many mistakes."
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