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FL golf preview: Purple Ghosts’ program remains strong


ALEXANDRIA BAY — Players may have come and gone and there’s even been a change in coaches, but winning has remained a constant for the Alexandria golf program.

The Purple Ghosts have won eight consecutive Frontier League “D” Division championships, and are the defending Section 3 Class D team titlists. Senior Chris Strough said it is simple philosophy for individual and team success.

“Individually we all try to aim low and shoot as low as possible,” Strough said. “For the team, we just try to get every point we can.”

The program really took off under former coach Wayne Farrell, who began in 1984 and amassed a career record of 265-158-8 in 28 seasons, including 13 Frontier League regular-season and tournament championships along with three sectional crowns. Head coach Ron Hazelton said following Farrell was a hard act to follow.

“It was really tough to take over for someone like Wayne,” said Hazelton, who was a former baseball coach at the school. “He was such a great person, a lot of character, did a lot for the fellows and built a heck of a program.”

The Purple Ghosts didn’t miss a beat under Hazelton’s leadership as they went 10-0 and have not lost since 2007, when they went 12-1-1. Sophomore Tristan Thomson said that not much has changed since Farrell stepped away from the program.

Thomson said, “They’re both pretty relaxed coaches and good guys so there’s not too much difference.”

While some programs struggle to fill out a six-person lineup for league matches, Alexandria has no problem in finding athletes to fill the roster. The golf team has a staggering 25 members, and the volume helps push competition between teammates.

“Having a lot of kids really helps,” junior Nik Shangraw said. “When we have a lot of seniors leave, a lot of kids fill their shoes.”

The Purple Ghosts’ golfers don’t call it a day after practice or a match. Hazelton said it is commonplace to see players continue to hone their skills until daylight has disappeared. He said that he has seen players get off the bus after an away match and squeeze in another practice round.

“We see as many kids out here at night, in the afternoon and in the summer as you do throughout the year,” Hazelton said.

An Alexandria practice is not just all working on the fundamentals of the game. There is actually a lot of fun as the players do a contest called “three-ball monte,” which is a chipping contest where the person has to get the ball closest to the pin.

“We like to have fun,” senior Zach Heshcke said,

Another advantage is the closeness of the Alexandria Municipal Golf Course to the school. It’s just a short walk from the school to the first tee.

“I think it’s easy for kids to just walk from school,” Heshcke said. “It’s about 100 yards away, and it’s easy for them to get help from the coaches and the other golfers.”

The team sees South Lewis and LaFargeville as the toughest competition in the “C” and “D” divisions this season.

“A” Division

Outlook:Watertown boasts a young team, but should be strong despite the graduation of four seniors, including George LaBarr. The Cyclones don’t kick off their season until Tuesday with a road match against Altmar-Parish-Williamstown. Depth should not be a problem for Indian River, returning four of its top players. The Warriors also get Jody Brown back after taking a year off. The key for the Warriors’ success will be the development of their newcomers. Tyler John and Hayden Crowder are expected to guide the way for Indian River. IHC remains a young team, but has a year experience under its belt.

IHC Cavaliers

Coach: Dave Conklin (3rd year)

2012 record: 0-9-1 overall (0-9-1 league)

Roster: Riley Clark (Sr.), Michael Bamann (So.), Grant Chamberlain (So.), Jonah Edick (Fr.), Cole Plante (Fr.), Nathan Rose (Fr.), Jacob Hornbarger (8th), Cooper Uliano (8th), Jordan Signor (7th), William Spicer (7th).

Indian River Warriors

Coach: Tom Turgeon (24th year)

2012 record: 2-6 (2-6)

Roster: Jake Barbrow (Sr.), Hayden Crowder (Sr.), Derrick Gray (Sr.), Brandon Hartlaub (Sr.), Tyler John (Sr.), Aaron Johnson (Sr.), Zach Pitts (Sr.), Jody Brown (Jr.), Patrick Mills (Jr.), Cole Countermarsh (So.), Andrew Davis (So.), Morgan Lightner (So.), Taylor Miller (So.), Garrett Schell (So.), Ryan Hesse (Fr.), Devin Rodriquez (Fr.).

Watertown Cyclones

Coach: Tom Bedard (2nd year)

2012 record: 6-3-1 (6-3-1)

Roster: Chris Baker, Caleb Brockway, Jonathan Campbell, Jake Doldo, Ethan Garry, Nick Graham, Kaety Hanlin, Nathanial Haya, Eamon Ladue, Gabe Lafex, Shea Lynch, Noah Mayzel, Joey Morris, Chris Netto, Dylan Paker, Collin Parks, Garrett Parks, Jake Renzi, Jude Renzi, Peter Valentine, David VanEenanaam, Jake Vecchio, Kareem Winters.

“B” Division

Outlook: General Brown looks to challenge along with South Jefferson for the division crown. The Lions return two FL all-stars in Jacob Wojasinski, who was the runner-up in the FL tournament last year, and Matthew Haley. The Spartans lose Ryan Clark, who qualified for the state tournament after tying for first in the Section 3 Class B tournament. Bradley Lalone and Pearce Parsons will be a couple of the top golfers for the Spartans. A-P-W graduated five of its top six golfers from last season, so it will be a young group paced by sophomore Ken Bennedetto. This will not only be the last season for the Rebels in the FL, but it will be the last year for program founder Brian Walsh after 33 years.

Altmar-Parish- Williamstown Rebels

Coach: Brian Walsh (33rd year)

2012 record: 7-5-1 (7-5-1)

Roster: Macey Kerr (Sr.), Shane Burrows (Jr.), Chelsea Cooper (Jr.), Zach Moshier (Jr.), Kelsie Wilson (Jr.), Ken Bennedetto (So.), Autumn Stutler (So.), Taylor Trudeau (Fr.), Jenna Brockett (8th), Kenny Bush (8th), Darren Gaffney (8th), CarlyAnn Sackett (8th).

General Brown Lions

Coach: Jon Murphy (3rd year)

2012 record: 10-1-1 (10-1-1)

Roster: Jacob Wojasinski, Matthew Haley, Kyle Eager, Adam Haley, David Herman, Joseph Seeber, A.J. Biggs, Anthony VanTassel, John Buzynski, Luke Brenon, Brandon King, Dylan Bray, Connor Tarzia, Kyle Currier, Thomas Dupee, Mia Weishew, Marisa Avenengo.

South Jefferson Spartans

Coach: Adam Brown (6th year)

2012 record: 9-0-1 (9-0-1)

Roster: Tom Bassett (Sr.), Pearce Parsons (Sr.), Jacob Boenning (Jr.), Bradley LaLone (Jr.), Bobby Lees (Jr.), Josh Sullivan (Fr.), Alex Jones (8 th), Garrett Lavere (8th), Dylan Hamilton (7th), Derek Wood (7th).

“C” Division

Outlook:Thousand Islands won the “C” Division last year, but will have to contend with Lowville, which is in the division this season because of enrollment numbers. The Vikings have a good mix of seniors and younger players led by Kody Bleam and Dylan Patch. Stephen Larche will play in his sixth varsity season for the Red Raiders — one of six letterwinners to return for the season. South Lewis will look to top its second-place finish from last season with the league all-stars Nick Arrigo and JT Smith. Sandy Creek has Austin Tolhurst as one of the top returnees.

Lowville Red Raiders

Coach: Jeff Larche (21 st year)

2012 record: 1-12-2 (1-12-2)

Roster: Stephen Larche (Sr.), Jeff Millick (Sr.), Ethan Armstrong (Jr.), Dylan Babcock (Jr.), Clay Brouty (So.), Takoda Chubb (So.), Michael Dailey (So.), Greg Iseneker (So.), Michael Sundquist (So.), Frankie Swain (So.), Dillan Domagla (Fr.), Sawyer Roes (Fr.), Dillon Berrus (8th), Trevor Brouty (8th), Clay Case (8 th), Max French (8th), Devin Heise (8th), Jeremy Laclaire (8th).

Sandy Creek Comets

Coach: Paul Goulet (11 th year)

2012 record: 0-9 (0-9)

Roster: Justin Haskins (Sr.), Earl Hjortland (Sr.), Karntida Pitimana-Aree (Sr.), Eddie Bonoffski (Jr.), Brett Wolfe (Jr.), Matt Miller (Jr.), Austin Tolhurst (So.), Josh Kilts (So.), Michael Landphere (7th), TJ Harding (7th).

South Lewis Falcons

Coach: Ed Collins (17th year)

Record: 4-2 (4-2)

Roster: Maddie Birgenheier (Sr.), Brett Czajka (Sr.), Mike Siegel (Sr.), Alex Brennan (Jr.), JT Smith (Jr.), Nick Arrigo (So.), Joe Stewart (So.), Nick Isele (So.),

Thousand Islands Vikings

Coach: David Bowman (16th year)

2012 record: 8-2 (7-2)

Roster: Jacob Baldwin (Sr.), Kody Bleam (Sr.), Thomas Golden (Sr.), David Powers (Sr.), Carl Stedman (Sr.), Darian Frederick (Jr.), Hunter Trahan (Jr.), Dylan Patch (So.), John Hunter (Fr.), Nick Van Osdel (Fr.).

“D” Division

Outlook:Alexandria didn’t miss a beat last year as Ron Hazelton took over Wayne Farrell and led the Purple Ghosts to their ninth straight division crown and the Section 3 Class D team title. Nick Shangraw, Zach Heshke and Tristan Thomson will be the top golfers for a deep squad. LaFargeville co-coaches Scott Black and Patrick Sullivan will look to Cameron Rapant to help the Red Knights break Alexandria’s run. Lyme earned a couple of wins last season and will look continue the progress in Eric Heath’s third year as coach.

Alexandria Purple Ghosts

Coach: Ron Hazelton (2nd year)

2012 record: 10-0 (10-0)

Roster: Zach Heshcke (Sr.), Chris Strough (Sr.), Ray Dickhaut (Jr.), Andrew Henry (Jr.), Nik Shangraw (Jr.), Jordan VanBrocklin (Jr.), Brock Ward (Jr.), Connor Cummings (So.), Kiah Hudon (So.), Cameron Morgan (So.), Jarah Papin (So.), Tristan Thomson (So.), Caitlyn Burrows (Fr.), Ellen Gill (Fr.), Sam Griswold (Fr.), Kyle Gorman (Fr.), Logan Horner (Fr.), Dylan Kernehan (Fr.), Trenton Service (Fr.), Dean Swanson (Fr.), Trevor Jobson (8th), Wynn Horner (8th), Gage McCauley (8th) .

LaFargeville Red Knights

Coaches: Scott Black and Pat Sullivan (2nd year as co-coaches)

2012 record: 4-6 (4-6)

Roster: Gavin Davidson (Jr.), Merrick McMurphy (Jr.), Cameron Rapant (Jr.), Luke Demarse (So.), Daniel Leek (So.), Brian Bray (8th), Seth Hoover (8th), Andrew Leek (8th), Morgan Timmerman (8th), Matthew Briggs (7th), Andrew Morrison (7th), Kenneth Timmerman (7th).

Lyme Indians

Coach: Eric Heath (3rd year)

2012 record: 2-7 (2-7)

Roster: Zach Backus (Sr.), Brandon O’Donnell (Sr.), Nick Birchenough (Jr.), Jared Donaldson (Jr.), Stephen Gould (Jr.), Daniel Okun (Jr.), Ernest Cody (Fr.), Joshua Kimball (Fr.), Ethan Norton (Fr.), Hunter Townsend (Fr.), Damian Zimmer (Fr.), Christopher Hilts (7th), Kalei Davis (7th), Billy Locy (7th), Dustin Palm (7th).

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