Four area teams will head to Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro on Saturday for the team state championships.

In Class A, Messalonskee will do its best to overthrow defending state champ Mt. Ararat, which is set up nicely to repeat. Mt. Ararat returns Caleb Manuel — the defending Class A individual champion — who is coming off a historic day at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference qualifier Tuesday. Manuel shot a course record 63 after tying the record during his practice round.

Manuel is not the only Mt. Ararat golfer looking at a strong day, as freshman Parker Bate shot a 76 on Tuesday — second-lowest among Class A finishers. Ty Henke, who shot an 83 on Tuesday, rounds out the group.

Messalonskee counters with senior Dylan Cunningham, who shot a 78 on Tuesday and played in Manuel’s group.

“It’s nice keeping up with (Manuel) if you’re on the same pace with him,” Cunningham said after his round Tuesday. “If I’m tying him on a hole, I’m pretty happy with it.”

Three Messalonskee players shot 90 or under at the qualifier, an impressive outing considering rainy conditions. Aside from Cunningham, Bradley Condon shot an 83, Ben Hellen an 84 and Mitchell Grant rounded out the group with a 90.

“The team is coming around, we have some depth,” Cunningham said. “You can tell, our (No. 2 through No. 4 players) are shooting in the low 80s, which is good for the team. You never know who is going to come through in the clutch.

“I think (play Tuesday) gives us a lot of confidence (entering states),” Cunningham added. “Being among the top three teams right now in the North. We’re on the lower end (of scores), which is nice.”

In Class B, Waterville and Gardiner will be chasing area favorite Leavitt. The Purple Panthers showed marked improvement throughout the season, and turned in a strong effort at the KVAC qualifier, finishing third, just three shots behind second-place finisher Belfast.

“These guys have taken it really seriously this year,” Waterville head coach Khristian 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.”

Waterville gave a well-rounded team effort Tuesday, as five golfers finished in the Top 20. Sophomore Brandon Bearce and junior Owen Evans led the way for the Purple Panthers, with each shooting a 90. Junior Charlie Haberstock was just a shot behind with a 91. Freshmen Pete Sack and Alex Spaulding kept up the pace, with each shooting a 94.

Gardiner was the fifth and final team to qualify in KVAC B, with a team score of 380, just two shots behind fourth-place Medomak Valley. Gardiner is led by junior Drew Kelley, who shot an 83, which was third-best among Class B players. He trailed only Ruby Haylock (76) of Leavitt and James Ritter (81) of Belfast.

Kents Hill and Monmouth are amongst teams battling for the Class C title. The Huskies were the top Mountain Valley Conference qualifier on Wednesday at Natanis with a team score of 325. Mitch Tarrio, who led the Huskies by shooting a 69, leads the Huskies. Tarrio has finished within the top two in the individual championships each of the past three years.

Monmouth was led at the MVC qualifier by Ryan Burnham, who shot an 87.

All three classes will be playing at Natanis on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Class A and B will be playing on the Tomahawk Course, while Class C will play the Arrowhead Course.

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