The 2012 boys golf season has been one of the best in John F. Kennedy's history. The Eagles had an outstanding record in both nine-hole dual matches and 18-hole invitationals in the regular season, then won both the Division III sectional and district tournaments to qualify for state, which will be held today and Saturday at North Star Golf Resort in Sunbury.
Kennedy coach Jim St. George said his team is ready for anything they will encounter at the par-72 North Star course.
"Very good. The boys have prepared hard this week," he said. "They are very confident to go down to North Star and represent the Valley. All five guys are anxious to get started. The key is preparation. They will see the course tomorrow. We'll make notes and adjust. It's a tough track. It will play to about 6,800 yards and has 40 sand traps, 20 ponds and three creeks. It's a tough, demanding track. It's more of a links-type course.
Tribune Chronicle / Dana Sulonen
The John F. Kennedy boys golf team will be playing in the Division III Boys State Golf Tournament this weekend in Sunbury. Members are the team are (from left) coach Jim St. George, Billy Phillips, Daniel LaPolla, James LaPolla, Ryan Fowler and Stephen Macali.
"We've been playing big greens at Candywood to prepare for that. After (today) we will know how to position and avoid the hazards. On a links course wind is a big factor. Weather should be good down there. We hope to really shoot our number of 320 the first day and make adjustments for Saturday. It's a two-day aggregate score, so I've stressed to the boys that every little score counts."
Sophomore Ryan Fowler is understandably happy that he and his team have all advanced to state.
"It feels great to have that opportunity to go to state as a sophomore.
"For me personally it's been one of the better seasons I've had. I've been improving as I go. As for the team, we have a solid five guys; that's all we need and we should do good. We've done really good throughout the season so far."
Fowler leads the Eagles with a stroke average of 75, followed by James LaPolla with an 81, Billy Phillips' 80, Stephen Macali's 88 and Daniel LaPolla with a 90. The team average is 324.
Kennedy won the sectional tournament at Riverview with a 311, beating runner-up Mogadore by 17 strokes. At districts, JFK shot a 329 to beat St. Thomas Aquinas by five. Fowler was the medalist at sectionals with a 71 and Phillips took the top spot at districts with a 72.
St. George said Kennedy has plenty of competition for the state championship.
"Columbus Wellington and Lima Central Catholic seem to be the two teams to beat," he said. "There are 12 teams competing with seven brand-new and five returning from last year. Columbus Wellington and Lima Central Catholic finished 1-2 last year."
Despite that, St. George said if Kennedy shoots as well as he feels they can, they'll have a good chance at winning state.
"Our best performance this season was a 303 at the Brookfield Invitational at Yankee Run when all four guys broke 80," he said. "We're on the big stage now so we have a chance to perform. There are 11 other teams out there. The first day number is so important. A 343 and a 331 were the winning numbers last year. My magic numbers are 320 and 320."
St. George added that his team matches up well to North Star.
"Very good. We'll know more after Thursday, especially Billy Phillips with his length. The team that wins also are going to be good putters."