On a wet and chilly Saturday afternoon, the Boys’ Latin Lakers travelled to the prestigious Caves Valley Golf Club to take on the undefeated Sabres of Saints Peter and Paul, with the winner set to take home the MIAA B Conference golf championship. Earlier in the season, the long bombing Sabres squeaked by with an 11-10 victory over a smaller and less experienced BL squad, but on Saturday the Lakers turned the tide and prevailed with a 14-7 victory.
“The boys knew that in the regular season losses, the team was not at 100%, and felt confident they could beat their worthy adversaries given another opportunity,” said BL head coach Evan Wilson. “You don’t have to win them all, as long as you win the last one.”
Throughout the season, the team’s focus emphasized the importance of short game, good decisions and “keeping the pressure off of you and on them.” The four returning players, juniors Drew Nicholas and Garrett Glaeser, sophomores Eric Freitag and Bryce Atkinson, as well as, three new golfers Max Kantz (junior), Cam Spencer (freshman) and Willie Wright (freshman) all bought into the approach. The boys were able to forget about bad shots and bad holes and focus on the task at hand, the next shot. They kept the ball in play off of the tee, and when they found themselves in trouble, they swallowed their medicine (and pride), got back into play and gave themselves a chance at par, at worst a bogey.
The approach started to pay off when it mattered most. In the final match of the regular season, the Lakers took down division rival Severn, led by MIAA Stroke Play Champion Eric Hall, 13-8. This crucial road victory earned BL a first round bye, leading to a semifinal match against St. Mary’s, another squad that topped the Lakers during the regular season. Continuing to stick to the plan, the Lakers again emerged victorious, 13-8, avenging the earlier loss to the Saints, and earning the Lakers tee-times at Caves Valley three days later.
When the boys arrived at Caves, they were awed by the beautiful facilities, and immaculate conditions, despite the steady drizzle and unseasonably cool temperatures.
“Just enjoy the experience, take it all in, stick to what we’ve been doing and hopefully at the end we will have more points than they do,” Wilson told the team. “I just kept asking them if they were having fun, made sure they had a plan for the next tee shot and told them I didn’t want to know where their match stood. They would ask how everyone was doing and I told him I don’t know and I don’t want to know, worry about your next shot and have fun.
“I saw a lot of good shots, good decisions, short games looked sharp, putts were going in and attitudes were great. Win or lose, I knew it was a successful day, we were giving it our best and that’s all I ask.”
After the first two groups were finished, the match was neck and neck, with BL holding a slight 7.5-6.5 lead. However, Atkinson and freshman Wright came up big in the 5 and 6 spots, respectively, earning 6.5 out 7 possible points. Every player had earned at least a point to produce the team victory.
The points each Laker golfer collected were as follows:
Drew Nicholas (‘17, Captain) – 3.5
Eric Freitag (‘18) – 1.5
Cameron Spencer (‘19) – 1
Garrett Glaeser (‘17, Captain) – 1.5
Bryce Atkinson (‘18) – 3
Willie Wright (‘19) – 3.5
“I’m just really proud of these boys, the work they’ve put in all year, their attitudes, the way they’ve carried themselves,” concluded Wilson. “They deserve to be rewarded and I’m really happy with the result. It was really a great team victory, everyone contributed and earned points and their short game was the deciding factor. When the parents from Saints Peter & Paul went out of their way to congratulate us, several pointed out how good our short games were. It’s so affirming to have the work we put in to achieve our specific goals to pay off in the end. Thanks to everyone who supported us along they way.”