HAMILTON — A quintet of local boys high school golfers had sights set on the state golf tournament during Saturday’s final round of the Section 3 state-qualifier.
However, a tough field of competitors to go along with difficult conditions at Seven Oaks Golf Club led to dashed hopes for Whitesboro Joe DePasquale, Rome Free Academy’s Dan DeHimer, Waterville’s Gabe Williams and New Hartford’s Jack Darby and Fox Humphrey, who all missed making the final cut.
Manlius-Pebble Hill freshman phenom Johnny Gruninger won medalist with a two-day total of 146. Gruninger tied West Genesee’s Nick Bove at 146, but won the tiebreaker on matching of cards. Gruninger and Bove lead a group of nine players who’ll represent Section 3 June 2-3 at the New York State Golf Championships at Cornell University’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Course.
Marcellus’ Shawn Colella placed third with a 148 total. Colella, Gruninger and Bove all made states last season.
Anthony Maglisco (Westhill, 154), Max Dec (B’Ville, 156), Tynan Jones (Skaneateles, 157) and Grant Lewis (M-PH) 158) rounded out the top seven.
To complete the nine qualifiers, three players fought for the remaining two spots in a playoff. The playoff lasted just one hole as Fayetteville-Manlius’ Adam Butch and East Syracuse-Minoa’s Ian Rivers edged out Jamesville-DeWitt’s Peter Hatton.
Despite not making the final cut for states, the local players all had tremendous seasons just to reach the final round. They first had to qualify during Monday’s sectional rounds, and then had to place in the top-20 following Thursday’s first round at Seven Oaks.
DePasquale, just a sophomore, led the way among the locals, posting a 79 Thursday to enter Saturday tied for sixth, but struggled putting and closed with an 87 Saturday to finish 13th.
Seven Oaks is a strong test during a benign day. With Saturday’s gusty winds and off-and-on heavy rain, the task became extremely difficult.
“I’m pretty pleased with the way I played this year,” DePasquale said. “Obviously, today it wasn’t what I wanted, but next year I hope to go one round further. I need to practice my putting, because it was really bad today. I had a lot of putts for par and didn’t make many.”
DeHimer had a memorable junior season, both individually and as a member of a Black Knights’ squad that won Section 3’s East Division Large School championship.
“We’ve had a young core and the last few years we’ve started to develop to where we became a real powerhouse this year,” said DeHimer, who tied for 14th after posting rounds of 83 and 84. “We all played well at sectionals and I guess our hard work paid off and we’re looking forward to next season.”
While the Black Knights, should be even stronger next season with their top four players returning, DeHimer is also aiming to take that final step individually.
“I have to practice my butt off so I can make states next year,” DeHimer said. “I have to really work on my driving because it’s has been a little off. I will spend hours on the range and try to figure it out.”
Being part of successful teams is commonplace for New Hartford’s Darby and Humphrey. Both have won multiple Section 3 team titles and have made previous trips to the state qualifier.
Making it to Saturday’s first round was a first for both Spartans, and they posted matching rounds of 84 and 86 to tie for 17th.
Humphrey, a senior, had previously missed the cut to make the final round by one stroke. Just getting over the hump was a win for Humphrey, but falling short of making states came down to poor performance on the greens.
“I hit the ball solid off the tee and struck my irons great, but I just couldn’t putt at all,” said Humphrey, who plans on continuing his golf career at Mohawk Valley Community College.
“I had a four-putt, several three-putts and it started to kill me after a while.”
Darby still has three seasons remaining in his high school career to reach another goal.
“I wasn’t hitting it well at the start,” Darby said. “And the weather was a big factor today. The course was playing hard. It was windy with a lot of rain. The goal is to make it to states next year. Hopefully I’ll play better. I’m looking forward to next year.”
Waterville’s Williams is in the same boat as Darby, and plans on using the offseason to improve enough to take that final step. He struggled to a 94 Saturday after carding 84 in the first round.
“I made it further than last year and that was kind of my goal because I wanted to make the cut,” Williams said. “I’m going to keep working and grinding until next year to get better and give it my all.”
Section 3 State-Qualifier
at Seven Oaks, Par 72
Top 9 Qualifiers
T1. Johnny Gruninger (Manlius-Pebble Hill) 72-74 146**
T1. Nick Bove (West Genesee) 74-72 146
3. Shawn Colella (Marcellus) 76-72 148
4. Anthony Maglisco (Westhill) 78-76 154
5. Max Dec (Baldwinsville) 79-77 156
6. Tynan Jones (Skaneateles) 79-78 157
7. Grant Lewis (Manlius-Pebble Hill) 79-79 158
T8. Adam Butch (Fayetteville-Manlius) 80-81 161
T8. Ian Rivers (East Syracuse-Minoa) 83-78 161
Failed To Qualify
T8. Peter Hatton (Jamesville-DeWitt) 79-82 161*
T11. Spencer Baum (Liverpool) 77-85 162
T11. Andrew Brunozzi (Cicero-North Syracuse) 81-81 162
13. Joe DePasquale (Whitesboro) 79-87 166
T14. Dan DeHimer (RFA) 83-84 167
T14. Ryan Sisco (C-NS) 84-83 167
16. Velton Perry (F-M) 84-84 168
T17. Jack Darby (New Hartford) 84-86 170
T17. Fox Humphrey (New Hartford) 84-86 170
T17. Landon Rozewski (Cortland) 84-86 170
T17. Punn Chitteralertt (J-D) 82-88 170
21. Ross Burgmaster (Auburn) 83-89 172
22. Gabe Williams (Waterville) 84-94 178
**Won first on matching of cards
*Lost on first playoff hole
Nick Sardina is a writer for midyorksportsreport.com. Follow Nick onTwitter @nsardinamysr or on Facebook. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org