December 6, 2013

Boys’ golf MVP: Luke Ruffing of Maranacook reached his goal

By Tom Chard tchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

When Luke Ruffing of Maranacook sets a goal, he usually attains it. Ruffing set a goal of winning the Class B state golf championship and realized it.

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Luke Ruffing of Maranacook brings an intensity to his golf game that played a part this fall when he captured the Class B state championship at Natanis – the course he joined simply to prepare for the event.

Michael G. Seamans/Waterville Sentinel

All-State Golf Team

Luke Ruffing, Maranacook, senior

Ruffing is our Player of the Year. He won the Class B state individual title with a 71 at Natanis. A week before he shot the same score in the team championship. Ruffing was unbeaten with one tie in regular-season matches.

Chris Billings, Cheverus, junior

Billings tied for first at the Class A state individual tournament with a 75. He was the medalist at the SMAA qualifying tournament with a 73. He was 7-3 in matches with a stroke average of 37.2. Billings has been a three-year starter for the Stags.

 

Cam Letourneau, Oxford Hills, junior

Letourneau tied for first in the Class A state individual tournament with a 75. He shot a 78 in the team championships. Letourneau had a match record of 10-1-1 and a scoring average of 37.5.

 

Robbie Watson, Fort Fairfield, junior

Watson won the state Class C individual tournament with a 71. He shot a 73 in the Class C state team tournament the week before. He had a 37 scoring average and was 9-0 in matches.

 

Seward Matel, Lincoln Academy, senior

Matel finished second in the state Class B individual tournament with a 74 and was a top performer all season.

 

Reese McFarlane, Cape Elizabeth, junior

Last year’s Player of the Year, McFarlane tied for third with a 75 in the Class B state individual tournament and shot the same score in the team championship. He was 14-0 in matches with a 36.1 stroke average, which topped the Western Maine Conference.

 

Daulton Wickenden, Camden Hills, junior

Wickenden tied for third in the Class B states with a 75. The week before he led the Windjammers to the Class B state title with a 72. He had a 37.2 scoring average.

Nick Mazurek, Oceanside, sophomore

He shot a 76 in the Class B individual tournament to tie for third. He finished the season with a 38.5 stroke average. Mazurek has been Oceanside’s No. 1 player the last two seasons.

Gavin Dugas, Maine Central Institute, junior

Dugas shot a 74 for the Huskies in the Class B state team championship and a week later turned in a 78 to tie for fifth place in the Class B individual tournament.

Mike Richard, St. Dominic, senior

Richard led the Saints to the Class C state championship with a 75 and shot a 77 in the team championship a week later. He had a 39 scoring average during the season.

Joe Lesniak, Falmouth, senior

Lesniak sparked the Yachtsmen to the Class A state title by shooting a 78. He came back a week later to post a 77 in the Class A individual tournament to tie for fourth. He had a 38 stroke average in matches.

Tyler Morang, Winthrop, junior

Morang had a 70 in the state Class C team championship. It was the lowest score in all three classes. He shot a 77 in the Class C individuals to tie for fifth.

 

Coach of the Year

Mark Wallace, Camden Hills

Wallace has built a strong program and coached the Windjammers to their first state title in 11 years.

He’s his toughest critic. That’s apparent when watching him play and the intensity he brings.

After finishing second in the Maine Junior Amateur last August, Ruffing set his sights on the schoolboy championship.

He had finished in second place for his sophomore and junior seasons.

Ruffing figured he was headed for another second-place finish last month at Natanis in Vassalboro. He was 3-over par late in his round and gave himself a little pep talk.

“Unless I do something quick, I’m going to be second again,” Ruffing said to himself that day.

Ruffing answered the call with four straight birdies to get to 1 under and a winning score of 71. A week earlier, Ruffing shot the same score in the state team championship.

Ruffing, who also was undefeated with one tie in regular-season matches, is the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Player of the Year.

As an example of his focus, Ruffing joined Natanis, which has held the schoolboy tournament since the 1980s, prior to his freshman year to get accustomed to the 36-hole layout. Ruffing lives minutes from the Augusta Country Club in Manchester; Natanis, in Vassalboro, is more than 10 miles away.

“You always play better on your home course,” said Ruffing. “The Browne family, which owns the course, are great. They’re very supportive of junior golf. All the people at the course are so nice.”

To get ready for the team and individual states, Ruffing spent extra time practicing. Augusta is Maranacook’s home course so Ruffing did most of his tuning up there.

“I would show up an hour and a half before I played to chip and putt,” said Ruffing, who is home-schooled. “Then I would play 18. I wanted to get my short game as strong as possible because that’s where you can save strokes. I feel my improvement in my short game is the reason I won. The added practice made the difference.”

Ruffing said he plays his best when he’s a little angry.

“Luke is the most competitive player I’ve coached,” said Coach Ryan Meserve of Maranacook. “He sets high standards and never goes into a match that he doesn’t think he can’t win.

“Luke has improved every year. He can make almost any shot on the course. He’s not a big kid but he’s added distance on his drives every year. He hits it out there with the best of them. He’s going to be a huge loss for our team.”

Prior to his freshman year, Ruffing played soccer, basketball and baseball.

“In the fall I had to pick soccer or golf. Golf is something I love to do,” he said.

“I got the No. 1 spot on the golf team my freshman year. I told myself that I didn’t want to relinquish it and worked hard to keep it.”

Ruffing still plays baseball and is a second baseman for the Black Bears.

“I can’t get started as soon as I want with golf in the spring, but I still enjoy baseball and the team aspect,” he said.

Last summer, competing against the best players in the state, Ruffing made it to the semifinals of the Maine State Golf Association’s Match Play Championship, where he lost to Joe Walp, 3 and 2.

Ruffing also played in his first Maine Amateur where he made the 36-hole cut.

Ruffing is young for his senior class. He won’t turn 18 until next August, which means he can still play in the Maine Junior Amateur.

It’s a goal to win it and Ruffing has shown what happens when he sets a goal.

Ruffing hasn’t decided what he would like to do next year after his graduation from Maranacook.

“I think I want to take a year off from school, get a job and work on my game,” he said.

Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

tchard@pressherald.com

Twitter: TomChardPPH

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