Mt. Ararat’s Ty Henke chips onto the No. 18 green while competing in the KVAC qualifier Tuesday at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Ty Henke is seeking some redemption.

“I have a chip on my shoulder after what happened last year,” the Mt. Ararat senior golfer said. “I didn’t play well and I feel like I need some revenge on that course. But I am also very confident and feel good about my game right now.”

Henke, of course, is referring to Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro, site of the Class A state championship Saturday.

Last season, Henke struggled on the very same course at the very same meet. He finished with a 20-over 92 as Mt. Ararat finished fifth in the team standings.

Henke and golfers from around the state will converge at Natanis for the team and individual state championships. The Class B state championships are Friday, while Class A and C will compete Saturday.

“As a team, we are very confident going into Saturday,” Henke said. “We kind of have that ‘why not us?’ mentality. Parker (Bate) and I have been on this big stage before and we can see those same qualities in this team in past teams. The younger guys realize that just because we struggled at times in September, it only matters in October.”

Henke shot an 83 at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference qualifier  Tuesday to help Mt. Ararat earn a spot in the state championship. Brunswick, Hampden Academy and Messalonskee also qualified for the Class A championships out of the KVAC.

Falmouth should also be in the mix.

Defending Class B state champ Freeport will look to make some noise Friday.

“Our whole team is very excited, we feel as though we have a good chance to do very well,” said Freeport sophomore Eli Spaulding. “As for me, I just need to go out and play my game and not let things distract me.”

The Falcons brought back an almost entirely new team this season but are right back in title contention again.

Freeport sophomore Eli Spaulding competes during a match on Sept 14. Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald

“I’m excited for some of the guys to have this experience,” Spaulding added. “It’s truly an awesome experience to be here. This isn’t the same team as last year. Just to play in an event like this can elevate your game.”

Other Class B contenders include Cape Elizabeth, Leavitt, Lincoln Academy and Yarmouth.

“I have a ton of experience on this course (Natanis), especially the Tomahawk course,” said Spaulding. “I feel like my knowledge of the course could help my score.”

Just as it was in 2020, the individual and team state championship matches are set to be held at the same time.

While it’s a bit more pressure for top golfers, Henke and Spaulding are trying not to think about the added burden.

“To be playing for your team and yourself can be somewhat stressful,” said Spaulding. “At the same time, you just have to keep the same mental aspect. I just have to go out and play my game and not think about both the team and individual aspect. We’ll see how the scores go from there.”

Added Henke: “Golf is a mental game so it depends on your person. Personally, when I am playing well, I keep myself rolling with the mindset that my teammates are also playing well. But when I am struggling, I remind myself that I can’t quit on them, just as they wouldn’t quit on me, and we all have the mindset of ‘let’s make the best of any situation this crazy game throws at us.’”

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