Im­mac­u­late wins its first state ti­tle

The News-Times - - SPORTS - By Doug Bon­jour

HE­BRON — Jack Woods spent a lot of time watch­ing the fi­nal scores trickle in af­ter card­ing a 5-over par 77 at Tall­wood Coun­try Club on Mon­day. The suspense for Woods and his Im­mac­u­late team­mates was pal­pa­ble.

“It was def­i­nitely a very stress­ful time, but the stress is good,” Woods would later say. “It means you’re in it.”

The wait was worth it for Im­mac­u­late, es­pe­cially af­ter two straight years of run­ner-up fin­ishes. The Mus­tangs claimed the Divi­sionIV state golf cham­pi­onship, record­ing an over­all score of 323 to edge North­west Catholic by one stroke, Cogin­chaug by two and Old Lyme by three.

“It was nerve-wrack­ing com­ing down to the end,” coach Mark La­Porte said. “We knew it was go­ing to be close the whole day. We came in bet­ter than we did last week at our league tour­na­ment, so it was great to see we im­proved and stepped up to the chal­lenge.”

Dan LeBlanc fol­lowed up Woods’ 77 with a 78 on sun-soaked yet windy af­ter­noon. Ryan Fanella (83) and Nick Ian­netta (85) rounded out the scor­ing for the Mus­tangs, who won their first state ti­tle. Three-time de­fend­ing cham­pion Port­land came in fifth with a 333.

“We def­i­nitely had some ex­pec­ta­tions to be up there,” Woods said. “We’ve got­ten sec­ond the past (two) years, so it was a long way com­ing. It def­i­nitely makes it that much bet­ter to make it to first place.”

St. Paul Catholic’s Michael Dolce and Cogin­chaug’s Tyler Wood­ward were co-medalists at 76. Gil­bert’s Hill­son Liu matched Woods’ 77 to come in sec­ond. Ten play­ers broke 80.

Dolce hadn’t shot bet­ter than 77 since last year. The St. Paul ju­nior re­bounded from a pair of dou­ble-bo­geys by birdy­ing the 15th and 16th holes.

“To be hon­est, I didn’t think it was go­ing to go any­where near as well as it did to­day,” Dolce said. “I was at the range the last few days and noth­ing was go­ing my way. Stuff just started to click. I guess every so of­ten, a blind squir­rel finds a nut.”

Wood­ward wasn’t as sat­is­fied with his per­for­mance, say­ing it “wasn’t my

great­est day.” He shot birdies on six and 12, but bo­geyed 14.

“I would just call it a scrappy round,” Wood­ward said. “A 76 was OK. I’m glad I was good enough to co-medal, but ob­vi­ously, ev­ery­body wants to win.”

Old Lyme’s Thomas Crea­gan, LeBlanc and Cogin­chaug’s EJ Dzialo each shot 78 to tie for fifth. Michael Hills of Ter­ryville, Jared Be­langer of Tourtel­lotte and Justin Mathew of North­west Catholic all carded 79.

Every stroke proved cru­cial for the Mus­tangs, who waited more than an hour in the club­house for the fi­nal pair­ings to con­clude. They were pre­pared for every pos­si­ble sce­nario.

“For three strokes to sep­a­rate the top four teams, that was in­sane,” Fanella said. “I was com­pletely ner­vous. We were about to run over to the driv­ing range for a play­off hole.”

Doug Bon­jour / Hearst Connecticu­t Me­dia

Im­mac­u­late won the Divi­sion IV golf cham­pi­onship at Tall­wood Coun­try Club in He­bron on Mon­day. Pic­tured are, from left, Lo­gan MacLoon, Dan LeBlanc, Jack Woods, Nick Ian­netta and Ryan Fanella.

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