VASSALBORO — Nothing was going to stop Mt. Ararat senior  Caleb Manuel. Not even a little rain.

Manuel shot a 63 to lead all golfers Tuesday at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference golf qualifier at Natanis Golf Course. The mark not only beat the cut to qualify for the individual state championships Oct. 12 by 22 strokes, it also set a new Tomahawk Course record.

Manuel’s score was 13 shots better than the next lowest score — that came from Mt. Ararat teammate Parker Bate, Lewiston’s Parker Thibeault, and Ruby Haylock of Leavitt. The outing was more impressive considering the conditions were less than ideal. Rain made the course slow-playing in some spots. It also provided soft greens.

“The greens were kind of soft (due to the rain), so on wet shots and approach shots, they weren’t rolling out; they were kind of sticking to the pin,” Manuel said. “I think softer conditions is a little bit easier out here, so you can just keep it around the pin, know what the bounce (on the green) is going to do.”

The score was no shocker to Manuel, who tied the previous course record of 64 during his practice round.

“I know the qualifying score was pretty high, and I’ve been playing pretty good this fall and this summer,” Manuel said. “I was just kind of setting my own goal and get as far under par as I possibly could. I didn’t have a setback, didn’t have a bogie out there. I birdied the first hole, and I eagled (the third hole), and I got off to a hot start, making putts and hitting it close (to the pin).”

Thanks to the low scores from Manuel and Bate, Mt. Ararat (307) finished with the lowest team score in Class A by 28 strokes, and will lead the pack into the Class A championship match Saturday at Natanis. The Eagles were followed by Messalonskee (335), Lewiston (341), Edward Little (346) and Hampden (351), all which qualified for states.

Dylan Cunningham, who shot a 78, led the Eagles, who also had help from Bradley Condon (83) and Ben Hellen (84). All three qualified for the individual championships.

“I was just trying to keep the ball on the fairway,” Cunningham said. “Trying to hit greens with regulation, two-putting. The greens were surprisingly fast. I was playing with Caleb Manuel, and it’s nice keeping up with him if you’re on the same pace with him. If I’m tying him on a hole, I’m pretty happy with it.”

Thibeault led the way for Lewiston, and despite shooting a 76, felt he could have provided a better score on the course.

“I could have been better,” Thibeault said. “I had a couple of bad holes. Couldn’t get some putts to fall, but I got some (to go in).”

Leavitt finished with a team score of 348 to top the Class B field. The Hornets will be joined at the Class B championships Saturday with Belfast (362), Waterville (365), Medomak Valley (378) and Gardiner (380).

Waterville head coach Khristian Clement was thrilled with the play of his team.

“These guys have taken it really seriously this year,” Clement said. “They’ve been playing golf probably seven of the last 10 days, trying to get themselves in shape for this…We’ve got kids that are improving all the time. I’ve got two freshmen that couldn’t break 50 for (nine holes) at the start of the season, and now they’re in the low-to-mid 90s for 18 (holes) on a hard day at Natanis. I’m really proud of them.”

The cut for Class A players for the individual championships was 85, and 90 for Class B players. Notable qualifiers included Cony’s Quincy Tobias (80), Gardiner’s Drew Kelley (83), Lawrence’s Jacob Suttie (85) and Waterville’s Brandon Bearce and Owen Evans.

“(The conditions) made the greens a lot faster, and my putting was off,” Tobias said. “I’ll qualify, and do the best I can do (at the individual championships).”

Female players who shot less than 100 qualified for the girls individual championship, also scheduled for Oct. 12. Notable qualifiers were Skowhegan’s Jaycie Christopher and Nokomis’ Lindsay Cote (85).

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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