The defending Western Massachusetts champions feel pretty good.
After winning the Division III golf crown last year, coach Dick Salinetti's Lenox Millionaires are back after going unbeaten in Berkshire County this year.
"My kids are experienced," Salinetti said. "Thomas [Villetto], for example, he's been on the varsity for six years and he's played in a ton of these. Two years ago when we got put in D-II, he finished fourth. Last year he was [tied for eighth] in the state, so he's got experience. Kris Vahle is playing very well. Cam Besse has had a good year. I've got some experienced players that have been there before."
The Millionaires will try to prove that this morning when they venture to Tekoa Country Club in Westfield for the Division III sectional tournament, which begins with a 10 a.m. shotgun start. It's one of three sectional tournaments across Western Mass. today. Pittsfield and Taconic will be at the Division I tournament at The Elmcrest Country Club in East Longmeadow, also beginning at 10 a.m. Those in Division II, including Drury and Monument Mountain, will stay close to home when they head to Stockbridge Golf Club for another 10 a.m. start.
This will be the Blue Devils' first trip to Western Mass. in five years. A couple years removed from a winless season, today's tournament should be a thrill for coach Don Dagnoli and his golfers.
"As I told my team all year long, we just got to worry about ourselves. I think we have a chance," Dagnoli said. "It's awesome. All the kids are excited and really looking forward to the tournament. It's going to be a great experience for them."
Pittsfield's Chris Polidoro will get his first trip to Western Mass. as a head coach this morning in East Longmeadow. The North champion Generals got in a practice round last week. Polidoro said the course is pretty narrow but as long as his golfers keep the ball in play, they should be just fine.
"They like it," Polidoro said. "Adam [Brickle] enjoyed it. He had a 79 and he said ‘I definitely could shoot lower.' Knowing your shot and position, where to hit is really important. They know it now. They feel comfortable."
Lee, bound for the Division III field in Westfield today with Mount Everett individual Devin Farnum, was also confident following its practice round. Coach Tom McDarby said confidence is high after three solid performances at the Berkshire Classic last week in Stockbridge. That included a runner-up finish from freshman Devyn Olds.
"I look at it and they did very well, competing against the best kids in the county," McDarby said. "I think that showed a lot to them and they felt like they could compete with just about all of them."
That tournament provided a boost for the winner, Hoosac's Chad Alibozek. The senior is back after shooting a 90 in last year's Western Mass. Division II tournament at Franconia Golf Course in Springfield.
Alibozek said that round was probably the worst he's had since he was 12. This year the tournament is on familiar territory. He said he played Stockbridge three times this week and played well each time.
"I've been anxious for a year to play," Alibozek said. "In the past couple years I was really nervous. This year I've done stuff to keep my mind off of it. Stockbridge seems to be my course."
To reach Christopher James:
On Twitter: @BECJ2K.