The Shepaug High boys golf team went into Tuesday’s soggy match against Litchfield knowing it had a chance to bring down the Berkshire League’s top team.
After all, the Spartans tied the Cowboys, 187-187, on Sept. 29 last season at the Litchfield Country Club. It took a tiebreaker via the score of the teams’ No. 5 Golfers to break the tie in Litchfield’s favor. The teams met for the first time this season Tuesday in a tri-match with Northwestern at the Norfolk Country Club.
“The kids prepared really well in practice and never got ahead of themselves, which gave me some confidence that we could compete,” Shepaug Coach Chris Dennis said.
That confidence turned into elation when the Spartans knocked off the Cowboys, 176-180, and ended the latter’s 35-match BL winning streak. The first thing to raise Dennis’ eyebrows was the 39 sophomore Gavin Giroux carded playing against Litchfield senior Spencer White, who had a rare off day with a 45.
“The kids played well. They caught a few downpours mid-round, but remained stubborn with their games,” Dennis said. “I think the thing that really was different this time, more so than other times, was the mental resilience they displayed.”
For example, junior Emmett Tredennick made a 9 on the par 4 sixth hole. He ended his round of 46 with a birdie on the par 4 ninth hole. Sophomore Peyton Thomas had trouble off the tee, but was able to fight back and make bogies. Thomas shot a 45.
“Those things matter in a close match,” Dennis said. “Finding ways to grind, or save, two shots per round is something we always talk about and all five of them did that well.”
Junior Jared Frankland shot a 46. Shepaug’s fifth golfer was sophomore Miles Wilson, whose 48 was dropped.
After starting 3-over on the first two holes, a par 5 and a par 3, Giroux played the last seven holes in even par.
“Gavin is a really special player. He displays a maturity and composure far beyond his age,” Dennis said. “He never gets too high or too low.”
Giroux needed that even-keel attitude while playing against White.
“Spencer is a class act and it could be easy to be nervous around him,” Dennis said. “Fortunately for us, nothing gets to Gavin. He’s a real leader and a really good friend to our players.”
Shepaug doesn’t have a senior on its roster, but don’t let that fool you. The Spartans play plenty of golf, after they get off work. Shepaug calls both Lake Waramaug Country Club and The Washington Club home.
“They feed off each other and love to play golf,” Dennis said. “That has translated to practices and our ability to set Meaningful goals and assess how we’re doing with them.”
Being good people and good classmates is also part of the makeup of this Shepaug team. Dennis said one thing he will continue to work on with his Spartans is mental resilience, which is expected among younger players. Shepaug plays Litchfield again Monday, in a tri-match that also includes Gilbert, at the Litchfield Country Club at 3 pm Avoid big numbers will be a big key.
“If we are to compete with Litchfield again Monday, we will need to be better than we were Tuesday,” Dennis said.
Shepaug (3-0) has certainly been good so far.