Redhawks repeat as golf state champs

By Lauren Read

Observer correspondent

After shooting under 300 — 296 to be exact — in the Division I boys golf qualifiers, the Champlain Valley Union High School golf team came into last Wednesday’s D-I state tournament in Barre full of confidence. 

Then it woke up to bad weather.

“It was windy, it was raining,” said CVU coach Seth Emerson. “That makes everybody (score) a little a higher.”

Turns out, the coach didn’t need to worry about anything. The Redhawks shot a team score of 317 and clinched their third straight D-I state title, 24 strokes ahead of second-place Rutland. 

Evan Forrest and Alex Leonard came into the clubhouse with scores of 78, Cam Saia shot an 80 and Kyle Rexford had an 81 for CVU. 

“It was cool, these four have been on the varsity team for four years,” Emerson said. “They have been working really hard on their games. They are golf crazy, so to see them cap off their years with a state championship was really cool.”

St. Johnsbury’s Nelson Eaton and North Country’s Austin Giroux each shot a 74 to split medalist honors.

The championship was validating for the Redhawks, who have won the last two titles. After winning the first in a tie-breaker and running away with the trophy last year, CVU was looking forward to earning No. 3 this season. 

Then COVID-19 came along and crashed the party. After some uncertainty, golf was allowed to play this season, but with only the D-I qualifier and the state championship. There were no regular season matches for teams to evaluate both their level of play or their opponents’. But it was important for the Redhawks to be able to at least play for a title.

“Football is not going to have one, volleyball is not going to have one,” Emerson said. “It would have been a bummer if these guys couldn’t have competed for a state championship.”

CVU’s experience helped, with all four scorers having been in a final tournament before. In addition, all four players had continued to play together throughout the summer.

“They were comfortable in the big matches,” Emerson said. “They were going to be tough whether there were matches or not.”

CVU girls come in second

Champlain Valley girls golf coach Tammy Anthony left Champlain Country Club last Tuesday proud of the effort her team put forth in the Division I state tournament, but with no idea how her team had finished. 

The tournament was set up so each team came to the course, played their round of golf and then headed home, so the Redhawks didn’t know how they would finish.

Anthony and the Redhawks later learned they had finished second, matching their best-ever finish in a D-I final.

“It was so awesome,” Anthony said. “I was proud of those girls.”

Burr and Burton came in with a team score of 187, while the Redhawks followed with a 193. The Bulldogs’ Kaylie Porter shot an 83 to earn medalist honors. 

Lindsey Beer had a 96 to lead CVU, with Clare Stackpole-McGrath coming in right behind with a 97. 

“I knew as soon as they teed off on the first hole, every one of them was hitting a line drive and I said, ‘this is going to be a good day,’ Anthony said. “They really went out and played their own game. They stepped up and stayed focused.”