ORONO – It was difficult for Husson College golf coach Bruce MacGregor to get a good read on his Eagles squad coming into this fall season.
With just six players on the squad, one of them a freshman, three sophomores, and two seniors – one of them playing his first season of varsity college golf – the Eagles were raw and unproven at best, inexperienced and thin at worst.
Six tournament and 72 match wins later, the Eagles tee off the postseason as not only a favorite to win this weekend’s North Atlantic Conference championship tournament at Kebo Valley Golf Club in Bar Harbor, but also one of the best NCAA teams in New England.
“I think they’re one of the top Division III teams around here in New England, so they should be one of the top teams at New Englands the week after,” said Tufts University golf coach Bob Sheldon, whose Jumbos have lost to Husson in both meetings this season.
How did such a young, unknown team become a championship contender so quickly?
Talent, togetherness and teamwork.
The talent starts at the top with No. 1 golfer Lance Libby of Oakland, a four-year varsity player whose average 18-hole score this season is 73.6 over 12 competitions. He has been the top individual golfer (medalist) in five tournaments.
Fellow senior Jason Harvey, a varsity basketball and baseball player at Husson for three years, decided to go out for golf since his baseball eligibility was used up. The Bucksport native was an instant contributor.
“He’s had a tremendous impact for us,” said MacGregor. “Here’s a guy who had great success in two other sports come on as a senior and even though he’s a first-year player, he’s an experienced veteran who fits right in.”
Harvey, who has played in 12 tournaments and has an average score of 78.5, said he thinks there’s another key factor determining the team’s success.
“We have five solid golfers every time who can shoot even par no matter which five they are and that’s good because it doesn’t put it all on one guy’s shoulders to shoot par all the time,” Harvey said. “And being consistent throughout the whole year has become repetitious to us, so we just kind of expect to play well now.”
Chris Coffin, a freshman from Presque Isle, has also exceeded expectations, medaling once and averaging 76.6 over 12 competitions. Sophomore Adam Duplisea of Hermon has also played 12 events and is averaging 76.3. Bryan Johnson of Bangor and fellow sophomore Brian St. Louis of Argyle have each played six events and are averaging 79.2 and 80.5, respectively.
The Eagles as a team have won six of eight tournaments, compiled a 72-2 record against other teams, and are averaging 303.4 strokes per round.
“They’re in as good a position to contend for a championship as a lot of our clubs have been,” said MacGregor, who knows a thing or two about that since his teams have won four of the last five New England titles and six of their last seven conference titles.
DeWitt, River Hawks win title
Joey DeWitt ran fifth for the UMass Lowell cross country team last Saturday as the Division II River Hawks won the New England Championship at Franklin Park in Boston.
DeWitt, a junior from Ellsworth, covered the eight kilometers in 25 minutes, 22 seconds. He placed 27th overall in the field of 307 runners from 45 teams, including the likes of Division I Boston College, Brown and Connecticut.
“We needed all five runners to run as well as they could, pretty much,” said UML coach Gary Gardner.
“We had to run just right to pull it off, and we did,” he said.
MMA game slated in Portland
Maine Maritime Academy is gearing up for one of its most intense football rivalry games this weekend when it takes on Massachusetts Maritime.
For the first time, the contest is being played at a neutral site. The Mariners and the Buccaneers will square off in a 1 p.m. contest at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland.
“Our alumni chapter in that area was interested in hosting and promoting the game,” explained MMA athletic director Jim Dyer. “We felt it would be a good experience for those student-athletes on our team who are from that area of the state to play in front of their family and friends.”
Dyer, who said the move is likely to be a one-time deal, is confident the FieldTurf facility will provide a safe, fun setting for players on both teams.