Golf: Merrimack Valley’s Andrew Surprenant tops the leaderboard at D-II championship; Pride finish seventh as a team, defending champs Bow finish in sixth

Bow's Jacob Gancarz putts on the ninth hole at Breakfast Hill Golf Club on Tuesday at the NHIAA Division II championship. Bow finished sixth as a team.

Bow's Jacob Gancarz putts on the ninth hole at Breakfast Hill Golf Club on Tuesday at the NHIAA Division II championship. Bow finished sixth as a team. JOSHUA SPAULDING / Salmon Press

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 10-11-2023 12:22 AM

For a program that hadn’t even had a varsity golf team since 2016, merely sending two players to participate in the Division II team championship would’ve been impressive to head coach Joe Dougherty. But on Tuesday at Breakfast Hill Golf Club in Greenland, the Pride were able to send a whole team. While MV placed seventh out of eight, senior Andrew Surprenant finished at the top of the leaderboard, shooting 1-under-par 69, one stroke ahead of Windham’s Thomas Manning.

“He’s always been an extremely talented golfer, but as the year has gone on, we’ve just seen his maturation of somebody who can not only compete with some of the best golfers in the state, but outshine them in a lot of regards,” Dougherty said of Surprenant. “He understands and he respects his competition, but I think he goes into these competitions knowing that he rightfully should be one of the guys to look out for. That has been a huge transition.”

Surprenant will be the only Pride golfer to participate in Saturday’s individual championship at Beaver Meadow. Meanwhile, the rest of the team can feel optimistic about the future of MV golf.

“Overall, I was extremely proud of the guys,” Dougherty said. “Coming from a spot where we didn’t quite know where we would wind up to start the year, I think everyone pretty much exceeded expectations. It was a tough course with challenging conditions, but I think the guys stepped up.”

For defending D-II champions Bow, Tuesday did not feel as triumphant. Senior Sean Guerrette and junior Owen Webber led the Falcons, finishing tied for 10th at 5-over-par 75. Both will compete in the individual championship on Saturday. For the rest of the crew, head coach Matt Davis said, Tuesday was an opportunity for some younger golfers to gain experience playing the 18-hole championship round.

“Looking at the other team’s scores, I think we have a little ways to go to catch those top teams in our division right now,” Davis said. “We were about 28 strokes away from the winner in Windham, so we’ve got to work a little bit leading into next year to hopefully be able to compete at that level.”

The Jaguars carded a 372, five strokes ahead of runner-up Portsmouth.

Oyster River (383), Winnacunnet (390), St. Thomas (398), Bow (399), MV (405) and Timberlane (415) rounded out the team scores.

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Also among local players, Pembroke senior Colby Pope narrowly missed out on qualification for Saturday, finishing tied for 17th at 8-over-par 78. Teammate Cam Plumb (18-over 88) also represented the Spartans.

Bow’s Jacob Gancarz (9-over 79, 19th) and Billy Smethurst (11-0ver 81, tied for 22nd), and MV’s Dalton Gordon (10-over 80, tied 20th) were also in striking distance of the top 16. 

Ian Soucy (19-over 89), Joey Place (20-over 90), Andre Contreras (25-over 95) and Aidan O’Keeffe (31-over 101) also competed for the sixth-place Falcons, while Matthew Lauren (13-over 83), Trevor Cote (15-over 85), Isaak Davis (18-over 88), Tristan Pierce (19-over 99) and Gavin Pesula (30-over 100) competed for the seventh-place Pride.