CONWAY — If you want proof of the regular season mattering, look no further than the Division II team championships for golf. Kennett High won its first state team title in the sport on Thursday without having to hit a drive or sink a putt.
It’s not the way Coach Ed Bradley wanted to lift the crown.
The championships were scheduled to be held on Thursday at Beaver Meadow Country Club in Concord, but the first nor'easter of the fall curtailed the championships.
“After consulting with the golf courses, the New Hampshire Golf Association (NHGA) and the latest weather report, the high winds and heavy rain forecasted for Wednesday evening and all day Thursday will make the courses unplayable/hazardous to all competitors,” Shannon Quinn, marketing/media coordinator for the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA), wrote Wednesday.”
According to the NHIAA’s policies and procedures, there wasn’t a provision to reschedule the team championships.
“This decision was not made lightly by the NHIAA, Golf Committee, or the New Hampshire Golf Association (NHGA),” Quinn wrote Thursday. “Based on the inability to reschedule, we would like to congratulate Kennett High School as the 2019 NHIAA Division II Golf Team Champions and Hollis Brookline High School as the Runner-Up (based on the ratings against tournament opponents).”
On Page 11 of the NHIAA’s 26-page “2019 Policy and Procedures for Boys and Girls Golf,” under “Tournament Information,” Item 10 outlines “contingency rain plans — tournament,” which states “The golf committee will implement the following: “In the event that the team championship cannot be played, it would be canceled and the No. 1 seed of the regular season would be declared the NHIAA Team Champion. In case of a tie for the No. 1 seed, the Team Champion would be determined by the NHIAA tie-breaking procedures (By-Law Article XII).”
“We’ve got to change this, it’s just so unfair to the kids,” Bradley said on Monday.
Bradley worked tirelessly on Wednesday after learning that the event was not going to be rescheduled to find a way for it to happen. The North Conway Country Club was even willing to host the event.
“It’s such an incredible shame,” Bradley said. “My guys didn’t want to win it this way. Nobody wants to.”
He added: “The sad thing is that this has happened before. It happened last year with the Division III Team Championship and happened five or seven years ago in Division II. I think we’d all like to see the championship settled on the course.”
Kennett and Hollis-Brookline both went 22-3 during the regular season with the Eagles securing the top spot by virtue of a head-to-head victory over the Cavaliers.
The Team Championship has paved the way to the individual championship with the top 14 lowest scorers from the team event returning to the same course to vie for individual honors.
With the team event curtailed, all 12 schools in Division II each got to send two golfers to play Sunday at Beaver Meadow in the individual tournament. Three golfers selected, two from Coe-Brown Northwood Academy and one from Pembroke Academy, withdrew.
“That’s such a shame,” Bradley said. “There were a lot of kids who lost out (by not having the team event). Connor Tofflemoyer, Colby (Hall) and Riley (Fletcher) all had a shot of being in the top 14 if we’d had the team event. I wish we could have had a list of alternates who wanted to play.”
Kennett was well-represented in the individual championships with its two Eagles — freshman Ben Dougherty and senior Miles Woodbury — finishing third and fifth overall, respectively.
Owen Himmer of St. Thomas was the overall champion with a round of 77 (plus-5), edging his teammate, Juan Monckeberg by a stroke (78, plus-6).
Dougherty shot a plus-7 round of 79, while Woodbury shot a plus-11 round of 83.
The tournament went with a stroke-play format, while all-season the golfers had played under the Stableford scoring system.
Unlike stroke play, which rewards the lowest score, the Stableford system places points for various scores on a hole. Officials believed it would also speed up the pace of play.
Stableford scoring rewards 6 points for a double eagle, 5 for an eagle, 4 for a birdie, 3 for par, 2 for a bogey and 1 for double bogey. If the golfer hasn’t finished the hole at double bogey, the hole is over and they receive no points.
“Ben and Miles played well,” Bradley said. “They’d both like to have one or two shots back, but that’s just their competitive nature.”
Members of the state championship team coached by Bradley and assistant coach Steve Piotrow are seniors Jeremiah Brito, Gage Drew, Evan Eldridge, Riley Fletcher, Connor Glavin, Brady King, Gabe Mohla, Cole Rogers, Owen Strout, Connor Tofflemoyer and Mile Woodbury; juniors Matt Cormier, Mason Drew, John Egan, Colby Hall, Aidan Henderson, Sean Regnier, Brady Shaw and Bryson Wrobleski; sophomores Griffin McAuliffe, Henry Moneypenny, Spencer Ogren and Garrison Phaneuf; and freshmen Grant Barahona, Ben Dougherty, MacCary Kelsch, Thomas Roosenboom.
“I’m proud of them,” Bradley said. “They worked really hard and became a team. Our last match, we shot a 123, and the whole team scored over 20 points each.”
There has not been a date set yet when the Eagles will receive the championship plaque from the NHIAA Golf Committee.
“We’ve been waiting to see an official announcement on the NHIAA website but we’ll wait no longer: CONGRATULATIONS to Coach Ed Bradley and the Kennett boys golf team — 2019 Division II champions! This is the first golf championship for KHS so awesome job to all team members who helped to make this season a special one,” Kennett Athletic Director Neal Weaver wrote on the Kennett Athletics Facebook page Thursday.