BRUNSWICK — As high schools prepare for the start of their fall sports regular season, local golf teams officially open the campaign this week with their first team matches.

Defending Class A champion Mt. Ararat returns a solid core this season, while Freeport, which finished third in Class B, also brings back a group of talented golfers, headed by first-year coach Jason Ouellette. 

Morse had a solid regular season last year and hopes to again, while Brunswick looks to bounce back. 

Mt. Ararat

The Eagles lost a pair of golfers in Will Kavanaugh and Cade Charron to graduation, but the return of 2018 Class A individual champion Caleb Manuel anchors the team with skill and consistency. Manuel had a busy summer with plenty of golf and will be joined by junior Eli Schoenberg and sophomore Ty Henke, each with another year of competition golf under their belt and a successful summer on the Maine junior circuit. Freshman Parker Bate will enter the fray as one of the team’s top competitors.

Mt. Ararat’s Ty Henke watches a drive during Tuesday’s first round of the Maine Junior Golf Championship at Val Halla G.C. in Cumberland. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

“We lost some very good golfers to graduation, it’s not easy to replace Cade and Will, but the players that are coming back or up to high school should be just fine,” Eagles coach Gerry Caron said. “This group of kids know when to show up for golf in the fall. They need to be ready as it’s a well-established program, it’s a lot of work and these kids have worked hard to maintain that level with their commitment in the summer.”

Caron also mentions that Alex Witwicki, Colby Merryman, Trey Saucier and Sam Hughes will also compete for slots in matches for the defending Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference champion Eagles, who went 10-0 during the year.

Winning the team championship as well as the Class A Sportsmanship Award a year ago has exemplified the Eagles program, and Caron believes it will continue to motivate his golfers.

“(Winning the state championship) establishes a type of program we’ve had for a few years now. Winning the sportsmanship award says a lot about these kids, it’s quite an accomplishment,” added the coach.

Mt. Ararat opens the season today at Norway Country Club against Oxford Hills and will host Lewiston on Tuesday at the Brunswick Golf Club. Both matches begin at 3:30 p.m.

Brunswick

Longtime coach Mal Strange is optimistic with this year’s squad as the Dragons head into the 2019 season. 

“We should be a little more competitive this year,” Stange said. “We have some new faces on the team this year and it should be fun.”

The team finished 2-8 in their matches and sixth in the KVAC last fall.

Junior Spencer Marquis returns to the team after playing golf his freshman year, then taking up soccer last year. Hunter Lord and Sean Lyne are back and have shown great improvement according to Strange.

Newomer Ben Garrison is a freshman (from Georgia) who recently moved to Brunswick. 

The Dragons start the season with three early matches — Thursday, home at the Brunswick Golf Club against Edward Little, Friday at Camden Hills and Tuesday, at Oxford Hills, all beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Morse

Morse graduated six seniors from last year’s squad, so coach Mike Dutton expects the young team to have “less experience.”

The Shipbuilders were 10-0 and first in KVAC Class B South. After a conference semifinal win against Lincoln Academy, the ’Builders finished fourth in the KVAC Shootout at Rockland Golf Club.

Kaleb Jackson, Angus Brown and Dom Marco are among the golfers that graduated, but seniors Gaige Kindlimann and Zoe Sreden return, along with juniors Wade Bradford and Tanner Hennin.

“The program expects to have up to 15 student-athletes and the focus will be to develop players to step up to varsity roles,” Dutton said.

Freeport

After a strong finish placed the Falcons in third at the Class B team competition at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro last October, the squad looks to carry that momentum into the upcoming season.

Freeport opened its season Tuesday with a win against Fryeburg Academy (7-0) and a tie versus Cape Elizabeth (3.5-3.5). 

The Falcons were 8-1-1 last year, losing only to eventual Class B champ York in the regular season.

With returning golfers TJ Whelan, Tom Robinson, Finn Sharpe and Molly Whelan, Ouellette likes the experience they all bring.

Freeport’s Molly Whelan chips onto the green of hole No. 16. Freeport finished third in the State Class B finals on Saturday at Natanis Golf Course. (Eric Maxim / The Times Record)

“We have a good core returning from last year,” Ouellette said. “They have all played at states in the team competition. Our goal is to get back there again this fall.

“TJ, Tom, Finn and Molly have legitimate shots to make states in the individual competition. Molly qualified for the states as a sophomore and hopes to make it back.” 

Other members on the team are senior Ian Capen and juniors Evan Avasti and Matt Kempf.

The Falcons will host St. Dom’s and York on Friday at the Freeport Country Club at 3:30 p.m., while they will play North Yarmouth Academy and Yarmouth at Toddy Brook on Tuesday.

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