Upperclassmen show the way for Woodland

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Woodland sophomore Mike Erickson became the first golfer in the school’s history to qualify for the Division III state tournament on his own this season. –FILE PHOTO
Woodland sophomore Mike Erickson became the first golfer in the school’s history to qualify for the Division III state tournament on his own this season. –FILE PHOTO

BEACON FALLS — The most critical element for a young team is to have a stable core of upperclassmen to pave the way to success. The Woodland golf team had just that, led by seniors Matt Greggis, Mike Classey, Kirk Chamenko, Ryan Bellavance and Chris Mascoli.

The Hawks didn’t put a whole lot of matches into the win column but this season was more about developing the young talent they had and gaining some consistency along the way.

The seniors provided an example to follow for work ethic and team camaraderie, and the young Hawks made steady improvement. In the Naugatuck Valley League tournament at the Watertown Country Club last Thursday, Woodland showed a glimpse of what’s to come as the program tees off to become a threat in the league next season.

Sophomore Mike Erickson entered unchartered waters becoming the first Woodland golfer to qualify for the state tournament on his own (the Hawks qualified as a team for the 2006 Division III tournament). Erickson shot a 93 in Monday’s Division III tournament at Timberlin, which placed him in the middle of the pack, but the experience of a state tournament appearance will serve as motivation going into next season.

“Mike had a very challenging round,” Woodland coach Bill Carangelo. “There was a light rain throughout the day making the course very slick. They postponed play after the sixth hole. After an hour and a half delay Mike played a lot better, but it’s kind of tough to start and stop like that.”

Carangelo’s message from Day 1 was all about improvement with each hole and each match played. Woodland showed continued improvement throughout the season and it culminated at the NVL tournament.

Erickson was one of only six golfers last year to break into the 80s as he shot an 86 as a freshman. This year the sophomore did one better, hitting an 85 as one of 12 golfers to top the 80s mark.

But the field was one of the most competitive in years as nine golfers broke into the 70s and Holy Cross set an NVL record with a team total of 303. Jay Hogan was the medalist with an even-par 72.

Woodland finished in sixth place, shooting a team total of 358. But what stood out was that the remaining three golfers on the squad missed the 80s mark by a total of just six strokes.

Freshman Ryan Warner was right on the edge, shooting a 90 with a blistering back nine performance of 43. Sophomore Owen Harris used a front nine score of 44 to pull out a 91 and junior Andy O’Dell rallied with a back nine score of 41 to register a 92. Those scores lend to a lot of excitement and anticipation heading into the offseason.

“All four of our core players will be back next season,” Carangelo said. “These kids played a lot of golf this year and gained a lot of experience and confidence. I’m very pleased that they all played to their abilities and we are looking forward to even more success next season.”

Woodland will also have freshmen Zach Crowell and Jeff Webster in the mix to go along with the four starters.

“If they all work hard on their game during the offseason,” Carangelo said, “I would expect us to make a good showing in the NVL next season.”