Staff Writer

The Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference golf playoffs will be held today at three different sites. These are not to be confused with the all-day, state-qualifier KVAC championships, which are Oct. 2 at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro.

The KVAC has three divisions this year, with everybody playing a home-and-home series against each divisional opponent. In today’s division championships, Bangor host Lawrence in the North, Cony hosts Oceanside in the Central, and Oxford Hills takes on Brunswick in the South.

“The three winners will go down to Rockland on Wednesday, which I would consider the Eastern Maine championship,” Cony coach Tim Folsom said.

The Lawrence-Bangor match is slated for the “Kelly Nine” at Bangor Municipal Golf Course. Lawrence is 7-3, with two of those losses to Bangor. The Rams are undefeated.

“It’s hard to play them on their home course, but if anybody in the league’s going to beat them, it’s going to be us,” Lawrence coach John Donato said. “Their program is pretty solid. It’s how we play on that one day.”

The Bulldogs have a strong lineup. Aaron Brown has played No.1 all year and held is own against other top golfers. Tyler Boudreau has improved by about three strokes per match over last season. Nick Noiles is also better this fall, and the return of Jordan Nutting, who missed time with injury this year, is a big plus. Kelsie Dessent beat Bangor’s female golfer, Alice Hwang, last time they faced each other, and Zach Hale shot a 43 his last time in Bangor.

Cony is 8-2, but Folsom said Oceanside, Messalonskee, and Erskine are all about even with the Rams.

“That’s probably the best team Erskine’s ever had, or (at least) the lowest scores I’ve seen in 15 years of coaching,” Folsom said.

Everyone seems to be shooting well for Cony right now. In their last match, the Rams carded a 161, which is barely a 40 average over nine holes for the top four golfers. No. 5 golfer Ben Leet, a sophomore, shot a 36 that day, coming off scores of 41 and 38 his previous two matches.

Thomas Foster, the No. 3 golfer, shot a 37 and 41 his last two times out. Tyler Leet recently shot a 39 in a road match, and No. 1 golfer Zach Gagne has simply been steady all season.

“We’re playing our best golf of the year,” Folsom said.

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The roster lists just eight golfers, but Mt. View has combined its own hard work with graduation losses around the league to make a significant leap forward this fall. One year after finishing 0-10, the Mustangs are 4-4 heading into today’s regular season finale, at home against Maine Central Institute.

Junior Eric Larrabee was a standout last season, and now he’s joined at the top by freshman Austin Higgins. Seniors Montana Maynard and Owen Freeman have “improved tremendously,” according to coach Craig Tozier.

“Put the four of them together, and we’re winning some matches,” Tozier said.

Tozier said the players began showing more confidence after their first win, against Medomak Valley. Wins followed against Belfast, Waterville, and Winslow.

“Belfast, I wasn’t expecting to beat them,” Tozier admitted. “One of their players was out sick, but I think we would have won anyway. We played an excellent game that match.”

A victory today over a tough MCI team will give the Mustangs a winning record. That probably wouldn’t have been possible without some generous assistance from the community.

“Another thing that helped is a lot of the players played over the summer,” Tozier said. “The Mt. View boosters club paid for memberships for our returning players. That was huge.”

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One of the biggest upsets this season came on Sept. 12, when Gardiner defeated Oceanside. It was Oceanside’s first loss of the season, and Gardiner finished 3-7. The Tigers won, 7-2, and it gave every coach an example to point to about how important it is to take care of business.

“Nobody was extremely low, but we just had great depth,” Gardiner coach Patrick Quinn said. “We had kids that all played well on the same day.”

Quinn is filling in this season because coach Karl Swenson has back problems.

“Karl built up a tremendous amount of interest,” Quinn said. “There used to be five, six, maybe 10 kids max. At the beginning of the year, we had something ridiculous like 22 kids out. I think we still had 17 kids for our last match. It’s been great for me, but I certainly hope Karl can continue to do what he’s been doing.”

Returners Nate Somes and Matt Clark have led the way at the top of the lineup. Freshmen Brian Dunn, Logan Peacock, and Chad Prince played on their own during the summer, and have been scoring well all season.

“Our last regular season match was actually our lowest gross score, which is 182,” Quinn said. “It was two freshmen who led us that day.”

Gardiner is off until the KVAC qualifier Oct. 2. Since that is 18 holes, compared to the nine-hole matches during the season, Quinn said the challenge is mental, as in not letting a bad hole or two affect the rest of the round.

“I want them to put up a score that reflects their talent,” Quinn said.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

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