This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published June 2, 2019
All season long, the Hand boys’ golf team has been sporting a well-rounded lineup that’s produced medalists from top to bottom. The Tigers’ depth proved a crucial attribute when they overwhelmed the field and overcame the elements on their way to claiming the program’s first conference crown in five years last week.
Hand traveled to Orange to compete at the SCC Championship that was held at Race Brook Country Club on May 28. On a day that featured cooling temperatures, strong winds, and a little rain, Hand preserved to shoot a team score of 311 on the par-71 course and finish in first place. The Tigers defeated runner-up and reigning champion Xavier (330) by 19 strokes to post the largest margin of victory in SCC Championship history. The victory gave Hand its third conference title and the team’s first since the Tigers won back-to-back championships in the 2013 and 2014 campaigns.
“Bringing the SCC title back to Hand is an amazing feeling. I knew we had a really strong chance and a deep team,” said senior Jake Bennett, who led the Tigers with a round of 76 on the day. “I knew we would come out today and show everyone that Hand golf is good, and I’m so happy for the kids on the team and how they handled themselves on the course.”
All four of Hand’s scorers earned All-SCC honors with their performances at the championship. Along with Bennett’s score of 76, the Tigers saw sophomore Matt Doyle finish with a score of 77, sophomore Conner Quinn shoot a 78, and junior Aidan Stuart turn in a round of 80. Senior Michael McKeon also competed for Hand and scored an 86.
Quinn said the Tigers’ desire to get back to the top of the conference pushed them through Mother Nature’s obstacles at the SCC meet.
“Everyone had their ups and downs during the season, but we all came together today, and we were able to bring the title back,” said Quinn. “I believe we weren’t affected by the weather, because of the chip on our shoulder to show we were the best team in the conference. Our team will go down as one of the best in Hand boys’ golf history, and I am glad to be a contributor to it.”
Head Coach Jim Holleran felt proud that Hand’s textbook depth helped the Tigers walk off the course with the SCC title in their grasp.
“To win SCCs was great. I had a lot of confidence in these guys going in,” Holleran said. “We’ve had steady showings from all five guys all throughout the year with different medalists in each match. We have a really nice group of young men here that give it everything they’ve got each day.”
The temperature dropped from 65 degrees to around 50 as winds picked up throughout the day at the SCC meet. However, Coach Holleran said that Hand refused to let the weather get in the way of its path to the podium.
“It was a tough day, because the wind was strong and gusty. We also had a few drops of rain, but I have to hand it to the guys, because they hung in there,” said Holleran. “They are strong ball hitters, and they had the attitude that they would just grind along.”
The Tigers are now on a mission to win their first state title in six years and will be competing at the Division II State Championship this week. Heading into states, Coach Holleran wants Hand to play with the same kind of confidence that carried them to the SCC crown.
“We do have the lowest stroke total for Division II and actually the third-lowest in the state overall,” Holleran said. “We will play the best we can possibly play. I keep telling them to play like they are good, because they are really good.”
From the Sidelines
Chris Bader and Michael McKeon are senior co-captains for the Hand boys’ golf team this year.
The Division II State Championship will take place at Stanley Golf Course in New Britain at 8 a.m. on Monday, June 3.
Hand finished with a record of 14-3 during the regular season. The Tigers earned three wins against Cheshire 149-174, 141-184, and 148-174); two victories versus Sheehan (153-195 and 146-191), Morgan (161-203 and 149-196), Amity (157-186 and 148-188), and Branford (157-203 and 154-193); and one win over Notre Dame-West Haven (149-158), Guilford (146-190), and Xavier (150-153). Hand took two losses to Hamden (158-161 and 160-167) and also lost a contest against Fairfield Prep (148-153).