WHITE HAVEN - Despite the less than ideal golfing conditions Wednesday afternoon, Blue Mountain made sure its reign over the Schuylkill League will continue for another year.
The Blue Eagles won their 12th consecutive league title at Mountain Laurel Golf Club yesterday afternoon, as they bested second-place Marian by 43 strokes. Phil Valente, Ryan Rhody, James Bromwell and Ryan Laudeman combined to shoot a 314 for Blue Mountain, who now finish the season a perfect 19-0.
"It feels great to see the program do well and be as successful as it has been in the past," said Blue Mountain head coach Larry Bordan, who is the pro at Schuylkill County Country Club. "You have to give the credit to the kids though and not me. They have done all the hard work over the summer. Today showed that all the hard work pays off."
Twelve straight years of dominance in golf is hard to believe, especially when one thinks about the individual talent needed to play the sport - as well as the turnover of athletes from year to year. Bordan says the key to the program's success as been the ability to introduce the kids to the sport at an early age.
"We start at the fourth, fifth and sixth grade so the kids are familiar with the game by the time they reach high school," admitted Bordan. "A lot of the kids that have come up through the years have done work for me at the country club and as a result they have a lot of experience before they even get to the season. We have a good junior program over there, so by the time the kids get to be freshmen they are ready to go."
Nick Tristani led the Colts to a second-place finish with a score of 357. The best golfer in the league in terms of average (73), Tristani fired a three-over 76. Drew Sherkness was the closest teammate to him with a 90.
"It was pretty windy," said Tristani, who tied Valente for the low-round of the day. "It was tough to control ball flight. I hit it fairly decent today and I putted much better than I did on Monday (at the league's individual championships). I didn't capitalize on some wedge shots, but considering the conditions I am fairly happy with my score.
"We got here a good hour or so before hand so I had time to loosen up. I just tried to stay loose and relaxed and not get too tense."
The Colts finished the regular season a perfect 12-0 in their division and were 12-2 overall in the league. Marian's only two losses were to Blue Mountain. Although his team fell to the Eagles once again, head coach Len Brylewski was pleased with his group's performance.
"The weather conditions were really not conducive to playing golf," said Brylewski. "The temperature had a lot to do with it because the ball wasn't traveling. We could tell by some of the kids' club selections that they weren't getting the correct distance.
"I am content with how we did though. Blue Mountain is a very deep team. All of Larry's kids are capable of shooting in the 70s at any time. So I knew it was going to be tough. Other than that I am really pleased."
Pottsville (13-3) came in third with a score of 360, while Panther Valley placed fourth with a 395. The Panthers' low men on the day were Kory Lopata and Matt Tucker. Both finished with 96s.
Panther Valley, who was 0-12 last year, finished the regular season 10-2 and qualified as the wild card for the championships. Afterward, head coach Larry Marek couldn't say enough about his team's turnaround.
"Our juniors really stepped up," said Marek. "I think they were in awe a little bit of some of the other players, but I think this is going to help us get better for next year. All of our kids are back and I am looking forward to an even better season."
Blue Mountain 314, Marian 357, Pottsville 360, Panther Valley 395
Phil Valente 76, James Bromwell 78, Ryan Rhody 78, Ryan Laudeman/Shawn Green 82.
Nick Tristani 76, Drew Sherkness 90, Mike Gottstein 91, Brandon Dopira 100.
Justin Fiorillo 79, Greg Merrick 87, Matt Reed 97, Brandon Miller 97.
Matt Tucker 96, Kory Lopata 96, Mike Hadesty 101, Mike Luckenbill 102.
Played at Mt. Laurel Golf Club, par 72.