The weather has not been kind to the local golf teams so far this season, but with the sun finally coming out and the courses open, the teams are ready to finally start playing and improving.
Bristol Central finished over .500 last year but the inexperience in the lineup could be a speed bump this season. Staying within one stroke of par is the goal for the Rams this season and they are confident that they can be successful if they can improve and stay around par.
Terryville returns two of its top golfers from a season ago and are looking to take a step forward in the Berkshire League. The most important thing for the Kangaroos this season will be supporting the top two with contributions from the other golfers.
Bristol Eastern is still in a rebuilding mode but the Lancers are hoping to take some steps forward this season with the experience in place in the returning players. Newcomers could also make early contributions as the Lancers will focus more on improving than their record.
St. Paul did not respond to contribute to this preview.
Here is a closer look at each of the teams:
Coach: Tim Barrette (4th year, 28-19)
Last season: 10-9
Probable starters: Cameron Reed (sr. capt.), Jacob Nelson (jr. capt.), Preston Akerley (jr.), Ryan Suiter (sr.), Nick Osuch (jr.), Ryan Dinoia (jr.)
Rams’ outlook: Avoiding the big number is the biggest goal this season for Bristol Central. According to coach Tim Barrette, the key to success for his team will be playing bogey golf, at least, and throwing in pars. Barrette believes his team can successfully follow up last season’s over-.500 campaign if it can avoid the high number, as well as improve its collective short game.
Despite the age of the starters this season, the Rams enter the season with quite a bit of inexperience, which will only go away as the season progresses and the golfers get more time on the course. That development has been limited by the inclement weather early in the spring season.
Barrette knows this so has been understandably frustrated by the amount of time his golfers have had to spend at the range, rather than getting comfortable on the links.
CCC outlook: Newington and Wethersfield are Barrette’s picks to top the division this season, as they have been tops for many years.
Coach: Greg Boulanger (17th year, 159-164)
Last season: 2-12
Returning players: Jake Rodjenski (sr.), C.J. Bleau (sr.), Ally McMahon (jr.), Brendan McMahon (jr.), Kelsea Wyrebek (jr.), Nick Jones (sr.)
Key additions: Jake Desmarias (sr.), Cameron Mace (fr.), Mollie Lewis (fr.), Mason Santos (sr.)
Lancers’ outlook: This season is going to be about improvement for Bristol Eastern. The Lancers were 2-12 last season but coach Greg Boulanger is more interested in his golfers improving than his team improving its record.
“Improvements in a player’s maturity level and course management are rewarding to see as a coach,” Boulanger said, “and sometimes more rewarding than wins and losses.”
The Lancers have six returning golfers, including three seniors that Boulanger expects to be better this season than last. And they will also have four new players to the team, two of which are freshmen. Boulanger expects the four newcomers to contribute, at least a little bit, right away this season.
CCC outlook: Like Barrette, Boulanger sees Wethersfield as the top team in the division.
Coach: Mark Fowler and Dean Martin
Key players: Mike Hills (so., 2016 Berkshire League First Team), Mike Gudeczauskas (sr.), Robbie Lamarre (sr.), Christian Robinson (sr.), Mike Cote (sr.)
Kangaroos’ outlook: Terryville finished in the top four of the Berkshire League in 2016 and are looking to improve on that success this season.
The Kangaroos will have their best golfer from a season ago, Mike Hills, and he will be surrounded by a strong group of seniors. The sophomore was named a 2016 Berkshire League First Team All-Star last season and coaches Mark Fowler and Dean Martin are going to be expecting a lot from him.
Mike Gudeczauskas was strong last season as well and will be back for his senior year. According to Fowler, the supporting cast behind those two will be the key.
“If the Kangaroos can get some consistency from the back end of their lineup, they could move even higher in the league,” he said.
Berkshire League outlook: While Terryville has much of the team back that finished toward the top of the Berkshire League, defending league champion Lewis Mills will also have the same core and Fowler sees them as the favorite to repeat. He also believes Nonnewaug and Litchfield will be in the mix.
Coach: John Odell
Roster (as listed on CIAC website): Fulvio Aliberti (jr.), Brandon Apicella (jr.), Alyssa Daly (sr.), Noah Defeo (jr.), Melissa Gurzenda (sr.), Gabriella Hamelin (jr.), Jack Maikowski (so.), Samuel Mazzarelli (so.), Marc Noujaim (sr.), Sommer Prime (so.), Matthew Raymond (jr.), Sarah Richardson (so.), Ryne Salius (so.), Serena Stevens (so.), Prachi Elizabeth Terra (sr.), Max Watson (jr.), Evan Winslow (sr.)
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @K_baum30