The Gardiner golf team has made great strides under first-year head coach Chad Hopkins. After a 7-3 record last season, the Tigers are picking up where they left off in Class B.

“(The team’s) progressing nicely,” Hopkins said. “I’m starting to get a pretty good idea of who my top six, seven, eight players as a team, they’re fitting into their slots. It’s been very positive.”

Cam Bourassa, Cody Rizzo and Charles Stevens have stood out this season. Rizzo shot a 38 for the Tigers in a 7-2 win last week over Maranacook.

Hopkins was hoping to get more one-on-one work in with his golfers to work on mechanics, but unfavorable weather threw the schedule off a bit — the Tigers have matches Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Hopkins said the last matches of the season will be used to hone the team before the postseason.

“It’ll be interesting,” Hopkins said. “Everybody’s trying to figure out what their strengths are, their weaknesses. We need to work on those weaknesses, but at the same time you’ve got to work and keep your strengths your strengths.”

Nokomis is no longer sneaking up on anyone.

After a breakout 6-2 season last year, the Warriors are having an even better 2017 season — to the tune of an 8-0 record — and it’s putting the rest of Class B on notice.

“I’d say our depth is our biggest (strength),” Nokomis head coach Matt Brown said. “I have probably eight kids that I can put into those top six spots. It just makes it so nice to just have that flexibility to play kids at any position I have.”

Leading the way for the Warriors is junior Sam Smested, who shot a 43 and was the medalist in a 9-0 win over Skowhegan last week.

“He has just been fantastic this year,” Brown said. “He’s been in the 30s every match except for one. He’s just been lights out, and I think everybody has just been following along his lead and playing good, solid golf.”

Brown credited Smested’s short game for his success.

“It’s his short game, for sure,” Brown said. “His chipping and putting are fantastic. He’s not terribly long (off the tee), but it stays in play. But his chipping and putting is really what helps him the most. He doesn’t play any other sports, so he works on his game in the summertime and you can really see the difference in his game.”

Brown has also been pleasantly surprised by the work of freshman Lindsay Cote, who was the medalist with a score of 42 in a win over Skowhegan earlier in the season. He’s also been happy with the play of senior Zach Hartsgrove.

“He’s starting to gain some confidence,” Brown said. “I believe he’s a kid that could make a run in the individual state competition. He’s been solid all year.”

Nokomis has handily beaten all of its opponents, including an 8.5-0.5 victory over Bangor last Friday, a team that has historically given the Warriors trouble in the past.

Nokomis hosts Hampden on Monday at Palmyra Golf Course.

• • •

Messalonskee has been rolling through its schedule, with a veteran-heavy team off to an 8-1 start.

“A couple of kids have really improved over the year and are shooting better scores,” Jim Kerschner said. “I would anticipate that we would be in the running to qualify (for states), that’s for sure.”

Seniors Blake Marden and Jake Bernatchez have led the charge. Marden was excellent last week, as he shot a 36 in a 9-0 win over Lawrence.

“(Marden) had been even or 1-over the last three or four matches,” Kerschner said. “He’s really playing well.”

Kerschner said senior Connor Ferguson has also elevated his game.

“Not in ability, but in scoring,” Kerschner said. “He’s done a very good job right now.”

Even with their success, the Eagles are working on improving their game before the postseason. Kerschner has stressed the short game at this point in the season.

“What we’ve worked on more than anything else over the last two weeks is just the short game,” Kerschner said. “Scoring clubs, 110 (yards) and in. You have to be able to score, so we’re working on scoring clubs and hitting half-iron shots. That’s really critical at this point.”

Messalonskee hosts Erskine on Monday afternoon at Belgrade Lakes Golf Club.

• • •

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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