September 22, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL GOLF NOTEBOOK: Changes draw mixed reaction

By Gary Hawkins ghawkins@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Changes to formats and schedules this fall have been met with mixed reaction from golf coaches in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference.

In Class A, the KVAC has gone from a mix of match and stroke play to straight stroke play. Previously, six players from each squad played head to head with one point awarded for each match. Then the top four scores from each team were combined and the low team was awarded three points. This year, the top four scores from each team are taken from six golfers and the low team score wins the match.

Some coaches like the new format because it follows the one used at the state championships although only five players are allowed for each team. Others believe it discourages those who shoot a high score on one hole and feel they're out of it.

"Looking back at it, the outcome of the matches would not change," Messalonskee coach Jim Kerschner said. "The problem I have is some young kids would just give up (after a bad hole). I hope they go back at some point."

The stroke play format erases head to head play as well as individual records and rivalries.

"They've kind of lost that feeling they're playing against someone," Cony coach Shawn Johnson said.

The KVAC has also eliminated its separate team championship. The year the KVAC winner will be the winner of the team qualifier. In previous years, the top four teams with the best records played off at neutral sites and the winner earned an automatic berth at the state championships. The extra day or two of conference matches were eliminated to save money.

"I do wish we could do something to have a playoff," Skowhegan coach Dave Martin said. "It seems like the regular season means nothing."

Schedules among Class A and B teams have been combined to save money on travel. This has benefited some teams but not others. After playing exclusively in Class B, Maranacook this year has met Class A teams from Lewiston, Edward Little, Oxford Hills and Mt. Blue.

"I'm not excited about it," Maranacook coach Ryan Meserve said. "It's increased travel for us. It's not the same because we know in the qualifier we're not going to see those teams."

* * *

Maine Central Institute has its best shot at a Class B state title this fall since Sam Marzenell led them to a championship in 1997. Its top four players are averaging 154 strokes per nine holes and coach Paul Greco believes his team and Class B Camden Hills could be the top squads in the state regardless of class.

"I'm pretty solid," Greco said. "The top for are real solid."Junior Gavin Dugas plays at No. 1 while Carter Pearl and Eric Dugas, both freshman, play at No. 2 and 3, respectively. Senior Trevor Kitchin plays at No. 4. Last week against Mt. View, Gavin Dugas shot 1-under 34 while Pearl shot 35 and Kitchin 37.

"Gavin is probably one of the best juniors in the state," Greco said.

Senior Dylan Watrous and junior Parker Morrison round out the top six. The Huskies are 8-0 and could finish unbeaten heading into the KVAC qualifier. They face their last hurdle Wednesday when they play Class A Bangor at Bangor Muni. Earlier this season, they beat the Rams by seven strokes.

"That's going to be a test," Greco said.

* * *

Skowhegan has never qualified for the state tournament, but the Indians have a good chance this year. They are 5-1, having split with Messalonskee this season.

"I didn't know we'd be quite as good as we are," coach Dave Martin said.

(Continued on page 2)

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