Freeport High’s Eli Spaulding, center, receives fist bumps from South Portland’s Lucas Flaherty, left, and Kellen Adickes of Lincoln Academy after Spaulding won the 2021 Maine Junior Championship. All three will be playing again this fall in high school competition. Anna Gouveia/Sun Journal

Falmouth Coach AJ Simokaitis knows the luxury of having an experienced team returning, which happens to be the position the Navigators find themselves in this fall.

“It’s huge. It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s a blessing to be able to pick up in the fall kind of right where you left off, and know that these players have been playing all summer long.”

The Navigators are fortunate, but they’re hardly alone. While turnover is a consistent theme in high school golf, continuity may as well be the buzz word this time. Many of the top teams return loaded for another run. Many of the top players are back looking to repeat their success in October during the state championships at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro.

Anyone looking for the teams to beat, particularly in Classes A and B, could just check last year’s results. Falmouth brings back four of its top five scorers from last year’s Class A state championship team. Thornton Academy, the Class A runner-up, also has four of its top five returning, while Brunswick, a top-five team, brings back every player. Greely, the 2020 champion, didn’t lose anyone. Yarmouth, which rolled to a 16-stroke victory in Class B, has its top four scorers from 2021 in the mix for 2022 as well.

The theme continues. Defending Class A individual champion Lucas Flaherty of South Portland, who capped the season with an even-par 72 at Natanis, returns to defend his title, while runner-up Quinn Dillon of Gorham will challenge him again. In Class B, the individual champion, Freeport’s Eli Spaulding, is back for his junior year after firing a 4-under 68 last October. Runner-up Kellen Adickes of Lincoln Academy, who shot 77 to tie for second, is going into his sophomore year.

Add it up, and championship season could have a familiar look to it.


“It’s something that’s awesome to see,” Simokaitis said. “It makes the golf season really fun, and super competitive for all the teams involved.”

Part of the reason for the continuity is the strength of the programs. There’s a reason a group of five SMAA schools – Falmouth, Thornton, Gorham, Greely and Scarborough – have won all but two Class A titles since 2009.

“They always kind of rebuild,” said Greely Coach Brian Bickford. “Some teams have really good teams, and then you don’t hear from them for a couple of years. But a lot of these schools with junior golf programs in their community rebuild.”

Yarmouth Coach David Cousins has another theory. The pandemic got more kids playing golf before high school, meaning the number of freshmen and sophomores ready to contribute has gone up.

“I think golf has become a little more popular,” he said. “So maybe kids chose to play golf because that’s a sport you could come out and play (during the pandemic). … I think COVID did that.”

At Falmouth, the Navigators are poised for a run at another title. First-team all-SMAA pick John Hwang and Paul Dilworth are back after top-10 finishes at states, while Mitchell Ham and Boden Joyce also return and Brennan Rumpf and freshman Clayton Casey will challenge for the top five.


“Chatting with them this year, they’re geared up for another run,” Simokaitis said. “I think that’s on the forefront of everyone’s mind.”

Thornton Academy has first-team SMAA pick Braden Camire, second-team pick Damian Bracy, Parker Snell, Will Davies and Jack DeLeo back from the team that competed at states. Coach Jeff Camire, who took over the program in 2014, said this could be the deepest team he’s had, with Andres Jimenez, Matt Page, Wyatt Benoit and Aidan and Brandan Vitiello also capable of scoring in the 30s.

“We have so much competition. Our practices are great,” Jeff Camire said. “We have the capability of playing pretty solid, but the regular season sets you up to get there, but the teams that can play 18 holes are the ones that survive up at Natanis.”

Greely returns one of the state’s best tandems in Connor Albert and Will Klein, and brings back Ruth Weeks, a contender for the girls’ individual title. The Rangers also have Eric Hanson and Joe Hanson, the latter of whom is a freshman who carded a 37 in his first match.

“It’s almost like we’re a cross country team, where we’ve got the 3, 4, 5 and 6 runner coming in,” Bickford said. “I like those teams, because it spreads the pressure out.”

Brunswick has returning No. 1 Austin Stromick, the lone senior, leading a group including Charlie Austin, Garrett Countway, Ayden Marini and Will Farschon, all of whom were often on the course this summer.

“They’re shooting higher, as far as their goals,” said Dragons Coach Mike Routhier. “The fact that they’re yearning for it is a good thing.”

Yarmouth will be tough to take down in Class B. Andrew Cheever returns after a third-place 77 at states, while Nate Hagedorn, Quinn Federle and Sebastien Martinez are back. David Swift and Hugh O’Donnell could also be scorers for the Clippers.

“The thing is keeping them motivated and grounded,” Cousins said. “If we strive to be that good or a little bit better every day, things should fall into place and take care of themselves.”

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