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South Hadley’s Brian Bak qualifies for state Division 1 golf tournament

  • Hopkins Academy junior Andrew Omer takes his third shot out of the rough on the par four 10th hole at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield during the Div. 3 WMass sectional tournament Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Hopkins Academy junior Andrew Omer takes his third shot out of the rough on the par four 10th hole at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield during the Div. 3 WMass sectional tournament Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • A chip shot for par stopped inches short for Smith Academy sophomore Steve Bruscoe on the 11th hole at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield during the Div. 3 WMass sectional tournament Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    A chip shot for par stopped inches short for Smith Academy sophomore Steve Bruscoe on the 11th hole at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield during the Div. 3 WMass sectional tournament Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • A chip shot for par stopped inches short for Smith Academy sophomore Steve Bruscoe on the 11th hole at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield during the Div. 3 WMass sectional tournament Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    A chip shot for par stopped inches short for Smith Academy sophomore Steve Bruscoe on the 11th hole at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield during the Div. 3 WMass sectional tournament Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Academy sophomore Matt Muccino just misses a putt for birdie on the 16th hole at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield during the Div. 3 WMass sectional tournament Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Smith Academy sophomore Matt Muccino just misses a putt for birdie on the 16th hole at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield during the Div. 3 WMass sectional tournament Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hopkins Academy junior Andrew Omer takes his third shot out of the rough on the par four 10th hole at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield during the Div. 3 WMass sectional tournament Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • A chip shot for par stopped inches short for Smith Academy sophomore Steve Bruscoe on the 11th hole at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield during the Div. 3 WMass sectional tournament Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • A chip shot for par stopped inches short for Smith Academy sophomore Steve Bruscoe on the 11th hole at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield during the Div. 3 WMass sectional tournament Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Smith Academy sophomore Matt Muccino just misses a putt for birdie on the 16th hole at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield during the Div. 3 WMass sectional tournament Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

The rough conditions players encountered at the Western Massachusetts Division 1 golf tournament on Monday turned out to fit Brian Bak’s game quite well.

The South Hadley sophomore earned a qualifying spot for Division 1 state championships by shooting a 79 to tie for sixth overall at Elmcrest Golf Club in East Longmeadow.

“It was a little windy, and that did affect a few shots, but I had to make up for those,” Bak said. “I had a thought going in that I could qualify for states, but I knew I had to shoot a low number. It’s a big accomplishment for me, being just a sophomore. I know it will be a much harder competition at states, so I’ll really need to concentrate on shooting the lowest score I possibly can.”

The windy conditions also blew fallen leaves into the shallow rough. That combined with a wet course caused balls to be lost.

Bak recovered quickly from a double bogey on the first hole by chipping in for birdie on No. 2. He had four pars and a birdie over the final five holes to move into the top six.

“Brian was so successful (Monday) because he hits the ball long and very low, so it stays out of the wind and isn’t subject to the extremes,” South Hadley coach Frank Miele said. “His shots rarely come to a direct stop, they skid fast along the ground. Brian’s a very good ball-striker, and he didn’t need to use his driver.”

The Division 1 state tournament is set for next Monday at Norton Country Club.

“No matter what course it’s played on, Brian gets a practice round and he will do his homework on the course,” Miele said. “He’s a very diligent golfer. I wouldn’t be surprised if he shoots under 80 again.”

The Tigers improved one place from last year, coming in fifth with a score of 344. Northampton (355) finished eighth.

East Longmeadow and Longmeadow totaled scores of 328 when the top four of six players were accounted. The Spartans claimed the title on a tiebreak, which compared the scores of the No. 5 finisher for each squad.

Longmeadow’s Billy Walthouse won his second straight individual title with a 5-over 75.

Also contributing to South Hadley’s score were Joe Ciolek (88, T-25th), Mike Miele (88, T-25th) and Tom Dowd (89, T-30th). Devin Hoagland and Kevin Garbacik both shot 94, but their scores didn’t count.

“Overall I’m very happy with our performance,” Miele said. “We had a great season, we met our expectations, which was just to make Western Mass. To be able to finish fifth, one spot better than last year, is great.”

Northampton’s Austin McCreary just missed qualifying for states with an 80. He tied three other golfers for eighth place. Theo Viola tied for 21st with an 86. Nick Acker (92) and Chris Sodenburg (97) scored for Hamp, while Ben O’Connor (98) and Jeff Bond (102) also participated.

Division 3

Spencer Butterfield of Hopkins Academy was the top local finisher in the Division 3 sectional tournament Monday at Tekoa Country Club in Westfield.

The freshman shot an 86 on the par-72 course to tie for 17th place. Hopkins came in sixth with a score of 352. The top four-out-of-six scorers counted toward the team total.

Cody Booska of Franklin Tech won the individual title with an even-par 72. The Eagles finished third with a team score of 327.

Led by individual runner-up Noah Parker (73), St. Mary won the team title at 319, while Lenox came in second at 326.

Also for the Golden Hawks, Austin Brighenti tied for 19th with an 87. D.J. Gardiner (89) came in 25th, while Andrew Omer and Caleb Farnham tied for 26th with 90s, and Joe Yusko (92) also participated.

Smith Academy shot 382 to finish eighth. Steve Bruscoe led the Falcons with a 93, while Matt Muccino (96), Mike Molloy (96) and Zach Vollinger (97) scored for the team.

John Holhut (100) and Tyler Leary (113) also participated for Smith.

Michael Wilkinson can be reached at mwilkinson@gazettenet.com.

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