Newtown wins SWC golf title

Newtown won the SWC boys golf championship on Friday, May 30, 2015 at Ridgewood Country Club. From left: Assistant coach Bob Patterson, Josh Houle, Jacob Burden, Graham Hubbert, Colin Patrick, Ryan Patrick and coach Bob Flood.
Newtown won the SWC boys golf championship on Friday, May 30, 2015 at Ridgewood Country Club. From left: Assistant coach Bob Patterson, Josh Houle, Jacob Burden, Graham Hubbert, Colin Patrick, Ryan Patrick and coach Bob Flood.Contributed Photo

DANBURY -- Seventh and ninth in the Division-I state rankings, respectively, Pomperaug and Newtown entered Friday's SWC championship separated by less than half a stroke on the season, according to Pomperaug coach Rich Szymanski.

Throw in one-loss Masuk, and you have all the makings of a classic.

Though it fell to undefeated Pomperaug for one of its two regular season losses, Newtown shot a 322 at the Ridgewood Country Club Friday to bring home the conference trophy, its first since 1996.

"Pomperaug is such a great team and we just finally, finally had the opportunity to beat a great team," Newtown coach Bill Flood said. "These kids really worked hard at their game. They're all great. Unbelievable scoring in tough conditions today. Our kids hung in there."

The Nighthawks got strong rounds across the board, though No. 3 Colin Patrick shot a team-best 78.

"I think off the tee I was putting myself in great spots," Patrick said. "The greens are hard enough, so to be in good spots off the tee makes it that much easier."

Also contributing to Newtown's title victory were top seed Josh Houle (80), No. 2 Graham Hubbert (81), No. 4 Jacob Burden (83) and No. 5 Ryan Patrick (90), though only the top four rounds make up the team score.

"We've been so close the last few years, and to finally break through is a great feeling," Colin Patrick said. "We had a couple tough losses, but to come together just like this is a great way to finish up the season. We knew we had the guys to do it, and we just came out and played our game today."

Houle competed against Pomperaug's Michael VanDerLaan (78), Masuk's Matt Manjos (80) and Barlow's Jake Sullivan (83) in the top-seeded group.

"I definitely felt like the mental game was on today," Houle said. "It's one thing to prepare emotionally. To not overreact and not let any shots get away was big for me."

Though he admittedly didn't have his best round, VanDerLaan still found himself in a four-way tie with Colin Patrick, Weston's Alex Watanabe and Weston's Rob Waltzman for the best score on the course, a 78.

"I'm not overly-excited about it," VanDerLaan said. "I knew coming in that we were the favorite to win. We've been playing pretty well all year and we just couldn't put anything together. But this is the motivation for us to go to states and play like we know we can."

Pomperaug entered as the top seed but finished in second with a 336.

"The only reason there's a difference in the standings is because Masuk and Newtown played at our course," Szymanski said. "The point is, it's very evenly matched right from the beginning. I don't think any of my guys hit a round that they're probably happy with, but that doesn't take away from the fact that Newtown had a solid round."

After champion Newtown and second-place Pomperaug, the other six SWC-qualifying teams were Weston (337), Masuk (340), Barlow (346), New Milford (349), Immaculate (351) and Bethel (367).

Weston was the No. 7 seed, but Watanabe came in first individually and Waltzman finished second individually.

"There were certainly some rough patches, but I was happy with the way I bounced back," said Watanabe, the Trojans' No. 1 player. "Just keeping the ball in the fairway is big. If you get in the rough on this course, you can get some tough shots."

"I was hoping to shoot in the mid or high 70s and I got that done, so I was happy with that," said Waltzman, the Trojans' No. 3 player. "We started off 4-0, and then we went on a losing streak, but everybody in the SWC tournament improved on their score from last year. It was a great team effort."

Stratford's Austin Burgess was the only member present for the non-qualifying Red Devils, but he made it count by shooting a 79.

The day, however, belonged to Newtown's championship team.

"The first day of practice, our coach said the only goal was to put a banner up there in our gym," Houle said. "That's what I worked for, and that's what my team worked for. I give them credit, and we did it in the end.";


SWC championship

Team scores: 1. Newtown 322; 2. Pomperaug 336; 3. Weston 337; 4. Masuk 340; 5. Barlow 346; 6. New Milford 349; 7. Immaculate 351; 8. Bethel 367.

Individual scores: Newtown--Josh Houle 80, Graham Hubbert 81, Colin Patrick 78, Jacob Burden 83, Ryan Patrick 90. Pomperaug--Michael VanDerLaan 78, Matt VanDoren 86, Harold Smith 85, Griffin Namis 95, Jason Hirschaver 87. Weston--Alex Watanabe 78, Ryan Garvey 93, Rob Waltzman 78, Emerson Litvak 91, Daniel Solinsky 90. Masuk--Matt Manjos 80, Ryan Simmeth 91, Andrew Clark 85, Scott Wechter 85, Matt Simmeth 90. Barlow--Jake Sullivan 83, Reilly Haughan 93, Michael Brown 81, Grant Worthington 89, Peirce Beach 94. New Milford--Kyle Poeti 83, John Pace 93, Steven Santos 82, Ryan Mondonedo 91, Aakash Parikh 96. Immaculate Terence Hannigan 86, JP Crotty 85, Liam Deakin 91, Kieran Lynch 89, Alec Arconti 97. Bethel--Spencer Olson 81, Giovanni Luongo 98, Dylan Olson 99, Kyle Heibeck 89, Tim Hermansen 100. Stratford--Austin Burgess 79. Notre Dame--Safeen Ahmad 87. Bunnell--DanMcCormick 89. New Fairfield--Ryan Collins 98. Brookfield Pete Lazorchak 99. Note: Only the top four players count toward the team score.