Gavin Brickley led the Bobcats at the Division II championships, firing an 80 for the day. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
October 08, 2012CANTERBURY — The Plymouth golf team has come a long way in the last four years and that road led the Bobcats to the Division II state championships on Thursday, Oct. 4, at Canterbury Woods Country Club.
This marked the first time the Bobcats had qualified as a team for the tournament, meaning eight different Plymouth golfers teed off in the fog and drizzle.
While Plymouth didn't go home with any hardware from the meet, the Bobcats finished a respectable ninth place on the day, just six shots out of seventh, finishing with a 438 for the 18 holes.
For coach Gregg Sufat, however, the biggest thing the team should take from its experience is just being there.
"Once they have a taste of it, they'll want to come back," Sufat said. "And they're all getting better and better."
Sufat will have the ability to field almost the exact same team next year, as the Bobcats had just one senior play in the state championships.
Bert Wieliczko finished as the seventh Bobcat golfer in his final match, but Sufat noted that he had a huge performance in the last match of the season, allowing the Bobcats to qualify for the tournament, as he shot a 45, his best score ever to give the team a sweep of the match.
Sufat noted that his lone senior has seen a lot of change.
"His freshman year, we were 0-18," the Bobcat coach said. "So we know what it's like to be at the bottom."
When the Bobcats started out 3-8 in the first half of the season, Sufat admitted that things didn't look good. However, they finished out 7-1 and used a sweep of two matches in the final week to play their way into the state championship, which this year accepted 13 teams.
"It was kind of a dog fight getting in," Sufat said. "I thought we'd need at least nine wins."
However, he noted that Portsmouth and Hollis-Brookline were all looking like they'd finish at 10-9, so he knew that extra win would be key.
The Bobcats swept Kennett and Bishop Brady in the final home match on Sept. 25, and then traveled to Coe-Brown, where they swept the host Bears and Portsmouth, clinching the 10-9 record and the spot in the championships.
Sufat noted that Brickley, after playing at number one as a sophomore last year, played a lot of tournament golf in the offseason.
"That showed in his scores," Sufat said.
Brickley came out of the gate strong in the state championship round, firing an 80 to lead the Bobcats, while Eric Aguiar was close behind, finishing with an 82.
Both of the Bobcats earned the chance to return to Canterbury Woods on Saturday, Oct. 6, for the individual championship round.
Connor Mersch, who also played as an individual in the tournament last year, finished third for Plymouth with a 90 for the 18 holes, while Sam Dimick was fourth with a 92. Christian Babin rounded out the scoring for Plymouth with a 94.
Freshman Ryan Meisenbacher finished with a 99, Wieliczko fired a 101 and Sam Stone shot a 115 to round out the field of Bobcats.
On Saturday, Brickley returned to fire an 86 for a two-day total of 166 and Aguiar shot an 89 for a total of 171.
"And it was a much better day for golf than Thursday," Sufat said. "I'm proud of our guys for getting there and trying their best.
"It is a big deal," Sufat said of his team getting into the tournament and also noted that in a couple of years, he's hoping to return the Division II championship to White Mountain Country Club in Ashland, the Bobcats' home course.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 569-3126