Wahconah's Nate Dos Santos wins Western Mass. D-II golf title; Greylock's Ben Gilooly also qualifies for states
One can only imagine the smile he had when hearing of the Division II Western Massachusetts golf tournament being moved from Waubeeka Golf Links in Williamstown to Cranwell Golf Resort was only outshone by the one he wore on his face after sinking a short birdie putt on the 18th hole in Lenox Tuesday afternoon.
Dos Santos carded a 75 at Cranwell to win the Division II championship by four strokes. He shot a four-over on the par-71 course where he has been a member for the past year. Not even inclement and inconsistent weather could damper a round that featured four birdies, including two over the final three holes to secure victory.
"Oh, I was happy. I feel like I've played here thousands of times," said Dos Santos. "I had my lowest round ever here in the rain, a 67."
Due to Berkshire County rival Mount Greylock qualifying for the tournament as a team, the MIAA had to move the tournament from the Mounties home course at Waubeeka. However, in doing so, they introduced a wild card into the mix. While Dos Santos plays out of Wahconah Country Club during the high school season, the Warriors star qualified as an individual and got to play on his offseason home links.
"When this kid uses a membership, he uses it. 6 a.m. to seven at night, he's been here. He's dug some holes in the range here, you can ask the staff," said Wahconah coach Pete Terpak. "Once they said Cranwell, oh man."
Dos Santos will be joined by Greylock's Ben Gilooly at the Division II state tournament next Tuesday, Oct. 31 at Highfields Golf and Country Club in Grafton. Gilooly shot an 82 to finish fifth overall and lead the Mounties to a score of 372. While that was good for fifth in the team standings, Greylock did edge local rival Hoosac Valley (376). Southwick (334) and South Hadley (336) took home the team prizes.
The Rams and Tigers each put an entrant into the first group with Dos Santos in James Longhi and Jacob Allard, respectively. The duo gave the County local a real run throughout the day, but ultimately fell short over the final holes.
"There was a point there where they had me by two strokes. It was crazy," said Dos Santos. "I had them by two strokes but I double-bogeyed 10 and they caught up. But I got some back. It was a lot better than I thought the round was going to go at that point."
Walking the fairway on Hole 15, the trio's talk was of their overall chances and what Gilooly was capable of doing to crash the Group 1 party. The Greylock junior topped Dos Santos by two strokes for second at the Berkshire Classic on Oct. 15. However, around the bend onto the final three holes, nobody knew what to expect more than Dos Santos.
"I went eight-iron and hit the middle of the green and it spun off the front," said Dos Santos of his opening shot on the 148-yard par 3 16th. "And I just chipped it in. At 150 it was perfect for my eight-iron."
The small following crowd was wowed and Dos Santos' arms went to the air. It was the second hole he managed to chip in for birdie on the day. Back on nine at the turn he managed a similar feat on the 405-yard par 4.
"Nine was the spot we identified as a tough hole during the practice round. We had a pretty smooth round," said Terpak, whose golfer birdied four holes; 6, 9, 16 and 18.
Though his double-bogey on 10 put Dos Santos back with the pack, his chip on 16 and approach shot on 18 pushed him over the hump. After a solid drive to open the final hole, Dos Santos fired a great ball and stuck it on the green about 18 feet from the hole. The eagle putt drifted just left, but the birdie putt was a virtual gimme and the 75 held up with ease in the clubhouse.
While Group 1 was chatting about Gilooly's remarkable consistency, he was two holes behind them, navigating his own way into a bid for the state tournament. A year ago, he shot a 90 at the D2 tournament, five strokes outside of qualifying for states. He shaved eight strokes off his postseason performance this time around. Senior teammate Tenley Smith has had a similarly improved season and after a 102 left her dissatisfied a year ago, she threw down a score of 92 Wednesday. Brayden Smith added a 97 for the Mounties, while Connor Daley shot a 101, Bennett Zimmerman a 103 and Alex Axt a 116.
Hoosac Valley saw some drastic improvements this season as well, highlighted by leader Derek Alibozek. The course at Crestview Country Club in Agawam wasn't kind to the underclassmen a year ago. However, after an offseason of heavy training, he submitted an 87 at Cranwell, 20 strokes better than his sophomore performance. Teammate Henry Sniezek carded a 92, down from 94 last year, while Colby Rougeau was massively improved as well, posting a 98, 22 strokes better than in Agawam. Hayden Grimes and Luc Trombley nailed down matching 99s and Corbin Craig turned in a 101.
1. Southwick 334, 2. South Hadley 336, 3. Pope Francis 355, 4. Hampshire 364, 5. Mount Greylock 372, 6. Hoosac Valley 376, 7. Palmer 389, 8. Frontier 393.
1. Nate Dos Santos, Wahconah 75; 2. (tie) James Longhi, Southwick 79, and Jacob Allard, South Hadley 79; 4. Jacob Remillard, South Hadley 81; 5. Ben Gilooly, Mount Greylock 82; 6. (tie) Nicholas Kavrakis, Southwick 83 and Chris Carey, Pope Francis 83; 8. Chris Baker, Southwick 85; 9. (tie) Michael Corduff, Frontier 86, Jared Waite, South Hadley 86, and Garrett Antosz, Hampshire 86; 12. (tie) Derek Alibozek, Hoosac Valley 87, Max Cocchi, Pope Francis 87, Jack Fairlie, Southwick 87, and Bradley Durand, Southwick 87.
Berkshire County Teams
Mount Greylock (372) — Ben Gilooly 82, Tenley Smith 92, Brayden Smith 97, Connor Daley 101, Bennett Zimmerman 103, Alex Axt 116.
Hoosac Valley (376) — Derek Alibozek 87, Colby Rougeau 98, Henry Sneizek 92, Luc Trombley 99, Hayden Grimes 99, Corbin Craig 101.
Reach sports writer Mike Walsh at 413-496-6240 or @CLNS_Walsh.
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