HEBRON, June 8 – If you want to win a state championship, you can’t just be good. Most times, you need to rise to the occasion and grab it.
The Canton High boys golf team, the No. 1 ranked team in Division IV, shot a 337 at Tallwood Country Club. It’s wasn’t too bad but it wasn’t good enough to win a state championship. Morgan School-Clinton had four players shoot under 90 to beat the Warriors by four strokes, 333-337 to capture its third straight CIAC Division IV championship.
Canton (12-3) finished second for the second time in five years. The Warriors were second in 2010, nine shots behind Northwest Catholic of West Hartford. Monday’s match was one that the Warriors had been eyeing for the last year since last June when they took third at the Division IV meet.
“It was a tough one,” Canton coach Bill Phelps said. “Four of our five players didn’t play their best games and when you don’t play your best, you lose. It was one of those days. It’s the harshness of golf.”
Senior Logan Anderson shot a six-over-par 78 with two birdies. But he had four bogeys on the back nine including a double-bogey seven on the 10th hole. Senior Riley Hollis had an 84 including a pair of triple bogeys. Sophomore Ian Witzgall started off the day with a 10 on the first hole but recovered to shot a 97. Senior Jack Sullivan also had a 97. Alexander Olker finished the day with a 78 with one birdie.
Morgan was led by Maxx Bugg with a 78. Kevin Daley had an 80, Burton Cardwell shot an 86 and Jack Bugg had an 89 for the Huskies.
Still, it was a season to remember for the Warriors. It began over a year ago when the team took a trip to Akron, Ohio to play at the Firestone County Club where former Canton High player Stephen Carter is the club professional. “This group went to Firestone and that was the start of it all,” Phelps said. “They played a lot of golf and got into it. Last year, they didn’t have that golf maturity. This year, they do.”
Taking third at last year’s Division IV meet showed that the Warriors could be title contenders. They worked hard in the off-season and came ready to play this spring.
Canton had three matches when they had 150 strokes or less including a record-low score of 140 strokes in win over Sport Medicine Science Academy at Goodwin Park in Hartford. They had a record-low 150 score on their home course at Tower Ridge in Simsbury against Hartford Classical in May.
Anderson and Hollis won the Connecticut Two-Man tournament at Black Ledge in Hebron in May with a combined score of 68, outlasting Granby’s Sam Kuhnly and Chase Skrubis with a 70. Anderson was medalist 11 times in 16 matches. Olker was medalist or co-medalist four times while it was three times for Hollis.
Canton finished in a three-way tie for second place with Avon and Granby after the completion of the dual meet portion of the schedule in the NCCC with an 11-2 record.
“The kids really don’t understand what they were able to accomplish this spring,” Phelps said. “I’m very pleased and proud of what they accomplished.”
There was bit of controversy at the conclusion of the Division IV meet. Anderson called himself for a one-stroke penalty on the 10th hole for unintentionally moving the ball after he had placed it on the turf. He made a drop after hitting the ball into the water. He finished with a quadruple bogey 7 on the hole.
The club professional said that Anderson should have been penalized two strokes and disqualified. That would have knocked Canton out of the running for second place and eliminated Anderson from All-State consideration.
But Phelps protested and after 45 minutes of discussion, including a phone call to the U.S. Golf Association, Anderson’s original call stood since no one in Anderson’s playing group actually saw what happened.
“If it was an intentional act on his part that he moved the ball, it was a minimum a two-shot penalty or a disqualification,” said Paul Hoey, the CIAC assistant executive director told GametimeCT. “But no one actually saw it happen. … That’s why it took so much time. We wanted to be sure.”
Anderson, Hollis and Olker were selected to the All-State team based on play in the regular season and their performance in the state tournament. All three also earned All-NCCC honors.