Lenox golf team finishes 2nd at Western Mass. D-III tournament; Mount Everett's Rothvoss qualifies for states

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FEEDING HILLS — It's always nice to add a trophy to the case. For the Lenox golf team, winning the runner-up trophy at Monday's Western Massachusetts Division III tournament was a little more significant than normal.

"We did do this for Coach Sal," said Lenox's Brendan Hayden.

Lenox head coach Dick Salinetti has been battling some health problems all fall and was in Berkshire Medical Center undergoing treatment when the Millionaires came to Agawam Municipal Golf Course for practice rounds and the championship on Monday.

"He's fighting hard. We fought hard for him today," said Hayden. "Hopefully, we'll be able to take a picture of the trophy soon."

Hayden's 79 led the Millionaires to the second-place finish and a berth in next week's MIAA state Division III championship at Cranberry Valley Golf Course in Harwich. The Millionaires, who last won a D-III title in 2012, finished with a more-than-solid 337. However, Lenox was bested by the new team champion Ware, as the Indians finished with a 330 score.

Much like last year's Division III tournament at Waubeeka Golf Links in Williamstown where Lee's Thomas Fraser won the individual championship and led his team to the title, the same could be said for Ware's John Soltys and his team. Soltys was the individual champion with a 2-over-par 73. Soltys' round and an 83 by Mason Harper, good for sixth place, were enough to give Ware the seven-stroke win over the Millionaires.

Reigning champion Lee shot 381 to finish fifth in the seven-team field. McCann Tech was sixth with 391.

A year ago, it was Lee taking home the championship with Monson second. Lenox was third a year ago, while the new champions were fourth.

This year, Monson finished with a 364 score, some 27 strokes behind the Millionaires.

Individually, Hayden finished six shots behind Soltys, and finished tied for third with Mount Everett's Cooper Rothvoss. Rothvoss, Monson's Mason Dumas and Smith Academy's Daniel Cavanaugh all qualified to play on Cape Cod next Monday. Dumas finished two strokes behind Soltys with 75, while Cavanaugh's 80 placed him behind Hayden and Rothvoss.

"It's awesome to punch your tickets to states," said Lenox's Max DiGrigoli, who finished in a three-way tie for seventh with 86. He tied teammates Max Shepardson and Ben Haddad.

"This is just something like, from seventh grade on, everybody on our team has been working towards," DiGrigoli said. "It's awesome that we're punching our ticket to Cape Cod."

Lenox was the second team to have its scores recorded on the big board on the porch at Agawam. Not only did Hayden shoot 79 and the three ties, but Devan Patel shot 87 and Cliff Flynn shot 88. That meant all six Lenox golfers shot within eight strokes of each other. That's been something the Millionaires have been successful at all season long.

"Our team is probably one of the most consistent teams out there. We have six guys who, on any given day, can beat each other," DiGrigoli said, "which is always good, because we always have good competition with each other. That's our brand of golf, team golf. We're all consistent and all shoot about the same thing."

The difference in the team championship came down to this: Soltys and Mason Harper combined to shoot 156, while Hayden and one of the three Millionaires who shot 86 combined to shoot 165. The other two Millionaires picked up a stroke each, but it wasn't enough to catch the golfers in green.

Individually, the Berkshire County golfers were seeking to win a third consecutive individuals title. The winner of the last two tourneys, Lee's Thomas Fraser, is now at RPI.

Soltys teed off from the first hole in a threesome with Cavanaugh and Westfield Tech's David Romani. Soltys had an interesting first four holes, going birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey. He was at even par through eight, but double bogeyed the par-3 ninth for 37.

Soltys took control by making five pars in the first six holes, and two birdies in the final three,

While that was going on Rothvoss was teeing off from the 18th hole. The Mount Everett junior began his round with a bogey on the par-3 18th hole.

"I came in here just trying to place in the middle of the pack," Rothvoss said. "I'm pretty happy that I shot so well."

Rothvoss' final four holes were dandies. He birdied the par-4 14th hole and then parred his final three to finish with a 79.

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"I had a nice drive down the middle," he said. "The second shot was right there, and I made a nice breaking putt."

Rothvoss and Hayden ended up finishing tied at 79. Hayden teed off from the 17th in a group with Lee's Camden Redstone and Franklin County Tech's Alex Sulda.

Hayden said his third-place tie at last week's Berkshire County Classic tournament helped prepare him for Monday's event in Agawam.

The round did not start so well for Hayden, as he bogeyed the 17th and 18th holes. In fact, he had four bogeys in his first six holes.

"On the first hole, I hit two holes that I thought were out of bounds. The first one I ended up playing for a bogey," the Lenox sophomore said. "It was shaky. I thought I was going to have a bad round. But I turned it around on the front nine."

And where did Hayden turn it around?

"When I had three pars in a row," he said, referring to his pars on the fifth, sixth and seventh. "That's when I started building momentum and finishing pretty solid."

Hayden birdied the par-3 13th and par-4 14th en route to his 79.

Dylan Ely shot 91 for Lee, while Ryan Baran's 93 paced McCann Tech.

And while the Millionaires are bound for the beach next week, it is for the rest of Division III to understand that all six of the golfers Lenox sent to the tourney return next year.

"It's awesome," said Hayden. "We have a really young team. I think we're going to be able to battle it out and hopefully in the next two years, we'll be able to get a Western Mass. championship trophy."

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Division III tournament

Team scores — 1. Ware 330; 2. Lenox 337; 3. Monson 364; 4. Franklin Tech 368; 5. Lee 381; 6. McCann Tech 391; 7. Westfield Tech 407.

Top Individual finishers — 1. John Soltys, Ware, 73; 2. Mason Dumas, Monson, 75; 3. (tie), Brendan Hayden, Lenox and Cooper Rothvoss, Mount Everett, 79. 5. Daniel Cavanaugh, Smith Academy, 80; 7. (tie) Ben Haddad, Lenox, Max DiGrigoli, Lenox, Max Shepardson, Lenox 86; 10. (tie) Doug Mulligan, Ware, Andrew Bonnayer, Ware, Devan Patel, Lenox 87.

Dumas, Rothvoss and Cavanaugh qualify for the state championship as individuals.

Berkshire Team Finishers

LENOX (337) — Brendan Hayden 79, Max Shepardson 86, Max DiGrigoli 86, Ben Haddad 86, Devan Patel 87, Cliff Flynn 88.

LEE (381) — Dylan Ely 91, Caleb Kollmer 92, Camden Redstone 99, Adam Dingman 99, Dylan Boomsma 100, Colin Durken 106.

McCANN TECH (391) — Ryan Baran 93, Chris Rose 99, Sam Ingalls 99, Dylynn Hardee 100, Dalton Tatro 102, Nash Morin 112.

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


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