Hoosac Valley golf repeats at Western Mass.; Wahconah's Wilson joins Hurricanes at states

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PITTSFIELD — Back to back — and back to back.

That the Hoosac Valley golf team won its second Western Massachusetts Division II championship in as many seasons is not the most noteworthy aspect of Tuesday's accomplishment. After all, many other teams in Western Mass. have won consecutive titles in their respective sports.

But to do it exactly 365 days after winning the first one, almost to the hour, and to win it with the same score is something else again.

"Is it really? I did not know that," Hoosac coach Jason Sniezek said when asked if he knew it was one year after winning the first title.

"You know what? We shot the same exact score," he said, "which blows my mind."

The Hurricanes shot 341 on a cold and raw day to win their second straight championship. Southwick-Tolland did not qualify for the tournament a year ago, but the Rams finish as the runner-up after shooting 344. Both teams will advance to the MIAA State Division II championship, scheduled for Tuesday at Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown.

"It's great. I knew we had a chance to do it," Henry Sniezek said. "We lost two guys from last year, but a couple of guys stepped up big time this year."

Henry Sniezek led the way for the Hurricanes, shooting an 8-over-par 79. Unfortunately for Sniezek, it was not good enough for him to repeat as medalist. Matthew Garrity of Southwick, who lost by one stroke to Sniezek last year, turned the trick this year with a 7-over 78.

"I just had one game plan today — fairways and greens," Garrity said. "The first nine, I kind of got away from it and it took a while to get back on track."

The six Hoosac golfers won't be the only Berkshire County representation at the Williams College golf course next week. Wahconah's Dan Wilson finished in a four-way tie for sixth at 86, and also qualified for the state championship.

"It feels amazing" to be heading for Taconic, Wilson said. "It's my ever going to Western Mass., and then to go to states, I have to thank my coaches. I started freshman year, and I never would have gotten to this place right now."

Wilson's Wahconah teammates finished sixth after shooting 365. Mount Greylock followed in seventh, among the 10 teams in the competition, shooting a combined 370.

What got Hoosac it's title turned out to be the other three scoring golfers.

Garrity had given Southwick a one-stroke lead, but Corben Craig shot 86, while Ben Cleland of Southwick shot 87, which evened the score at 150. Colby Rougeau put the Hurricanes up for keeps by matching Craig's 86, while Andrew Morris shot 89. That was the three-stroke advantage the Hurricanes needed.

"It was our goal to try to win it again," the Hoosac coach said. "Honestly, my goal is to get into the top three, let it play out and see what happens."

Jason Sniezek said Craig's 86 was a big score for the Hurricanes, and the confidence the golfer gained from winning the Berkshire Classic showed when he needed it.

"It was a big confidence boost playing in that individual tournament. It just backed up what I've said," Jason Sniezek said. "He's got the tools to shoot a good score."

After the trophy was handed out, Craig did admit he was a bit disappointed in his 86, but said he did what he could.

"After my seventh hole, I kind of fell apart," he said. "I ended with a bogey after my seventh hole, and didn't get a single par after that. It was [enough to get through], but it should have been better."

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Henry Sniezek was in a group with Frontier's Michael Corduff, South Hadley's Jared Waite and Palmer's Ethan Beauchemin, and they started at the 371-yard, par-4 first hole, a hole he parred. Then Sniezek double-bogeyed the par-4 second and bogeyed the third. After that, he righted the ship.

"I had a great front. I had seven pars on the front," he said. "In the back, I started pretty good, but I had two bad holes on the back [nine]."

Those were the par-4 12th and the par-3 13th, both double bogeys. After bogeying the par-5 14th, Sniezek parred the next three and made a dandy birdie on the par-4 18th for his 79.

"The back nine is all about shot placement," he said. "You've got to hit it right where you want it. We played the back twice for practice rounds, and it helped."

Wahconah's Wilson played in a group with Garrity, Alexander Axt of Mount Greylock, and Ryan Cote of Greenfield. That was a pretty high-powered group as Wilson, Garrity and Cote all qualified for the state tournament.

The foursome teed off from the second hole, and the Wahconah junior started his day off with a par.

"I felt like I left some out there, but I still made it. That's all that matters," he said. "I wasn't thinking individually when I got here. I was just trying to get our team to get there, give them a chance, and see if anyone else could get by.

"Just trying to get our team through."

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Team Results

1. Hoosac Valley 341, 2. Southwick-Tolland 344, 3. Pope Francis 349, 4. Frontier 352, 5. South Hadley 359, 6. Wahconah 365, 7. Mount Greylock 370, 8. Palmer 371, 9. Greenfield 395, 10. Easthampton 410.

Top Finishers to Qualify for States

1. Matthew Garrity, Southwick 78; 2. Henry Sniezek, Hoosac Valley 79; 3. (tie) Ethan Beauchemin, Palmer and Logan Waite, South Hadley 81; 5. Ryan Cote, Greenfield 83. 6. (tie) Dan Wilson, Wahconah, Mike Corduff, Frontier, Gunnar Moore, Frontier, Logan Dapprich, Pope Francis 84.

Other top finishers

10. (tie) Pat McLaughlin, Wahconah, Corben Craig, Hoosac Valley, Colby Rougeau, Hoosac Valley 86; 14. Ben Cleland, Southwick, 87; 15. Ben Prescott, Mount Greylock 88,

Local Team Results

HOOSAC VALLEY (341) — Henry Sniezek 79, Luc Trombley 90, Corben Craig 86, Justyn Cowell 97, Colby Rougeau 86, Zach Swistak 103.

WAHCONAH (365) — Dan Wilson 84, Pat McLaughlin 86, Kristina Cusson 112, Mike Cullet 101, Caden Frazier 94, Emily Figiela 113.

MOUNT GREYLOCK (370) — Ben Prescott 88, Brayden Smith 92, Alexander Axt 93, Owen Petropulos 97, Paul Roeder 99, Cayden Conry 107.

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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