FREEPORT — Eli Spaulding is just a sophomore on the Freeport High golf team, but his ascension into a team leadership role has been as smooth as one of his drives.

“I feel like a lot of the kids now are asking me, ‘Hey, what can I do? What can I work on? Putting, chipping, driving, whatever,’” Spaulding said before a recent practice at Freeport Country Club. “I think it’s awesome to come out here and help everyone.”

Golf was the only high school sport in Maine to hold state championships last fall, because of the pandemic. Freeport won the Class B crown with a 12-stroke victory over Yarmouth and Waterville, which tied for second.

Now the Falcons are a little younger, but not without talent, as they look to repeat as state champs when the Class B team and individual championships are held Oct. 8 at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro.

“We’re developing some younger players and getting better,” said Freeport Coach Jason Ouellette. “Hopefully we’ll be playing our best golf for the tournament. That’s our goal.”

Freeport is 6-2 so far this fall, including victories over Fryeburg Academy and Old Orchard Beach on Tuesday.

Freeport High Coach Jason Ouellette, left, talks with Fryeburg Academy Coach Christopher Dutton during a match Tuesday at Freeport Country Club. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The Falcons won the state title last season with depth. Senior Matt Kempf won the Class B individual crown, with teammate TJ Whelan, also a senior, tied for second, two shots back. Spaulding tied for fifth place.

Kempf and Whelan graduated, making Spaulding the top returning player for the Falcons. That’s not a bad starting point. Spaulding played a lot of competitive golf over the summer, including a fourth-place finish at the New England junior championships in August, the highest finish for a Mainer since Cole Anderson won the tournament in 2016.

Joining Spaulding as a key returning player is senior Finn Sharpe, who tied for 17th place at the state championships last season.

“I really like our chemistry as a team, our unity as a team,” Ouellette said. “Finn has done a really good job bringing everyone together. We know our younger players are going to have to play well if we’re going to have a chance to defend our state championship.”

Sharpe said he and Spaulding are taking their roles as team leaders seriously. Being the defending champs doesn’t bring pressure, Sharpe said. Rather, it fuels the drive to improve and play better golf.

“It makes Eli and I more competitive. It makes us want to play more. We played a lot of golf over the summer,” said Sharpe, who honed his game playing in a number of junior tournaments. “We have very big goals for ourselves, individual and team. It’s been really enjoyable so far. … We have to play as a team more than last year. I want to make sure every kid has fun and wants to be out here.”

Finn Sharpe was part of Freeport High’s Class B championship team last fall as a junior. “We have to play as a team more than last year,” he says. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

To Spaulding, playing in tough tournaments this summer helped improve his mental approach. Now, he said, he’s able to keep his nerves in check and get past the inevitable bad shots that come in every round. That’s what Spaulding said he’s trying to stress to his less-experienced teammates.

“It’s going out there and playing even when your game isn’t quite there and still playing well,” Spaulding said.

One of the young players on the Freeport golf team is sophomore Brielle Hodgkin. Last season, Hodgkin was the lone girl on the Falcons. This season, she’s joined by Zoe Blair, Olivia Carter and Sofia Pattershall.

“Last year, I was just focusing on getting better. I have improved a little,” Hodgkin said. “Last year, I was the only girl, and now we have three more girls, so that’s pretty cool.”

Along with Spaulding and Sharpe, other golfers to watch at the state championships include Ruby and Jade Haylock of Leavitt. A senior, Ruby is the defending Class B girls’ state champion, while Jade, a freshman, joined her sister on the Maine team at the New England junior championships. Bonny Eagle’s Remy Levin is the defending Class A girls’ champion, while Ruth Weeks of Greely finished second to Levin at the state match last year by one stroke.

On the boys’ side, George Fahey of Waynflete is the defending Class C state champion. Connor Albert of Greely placed ninth at the Class A championship in 2020.

The Class A and C championships are on Oct. 9.


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