Senior captain Shane Devlin picked the right day to play the round of his career for the Whitman-Hanson golf team. In his final regular-season match, with a trip to the state tournament on the line, Devlin shot 1 under par 33 at Ridder Farm Golf Club Tuesday to lead his team to its lowest score in program history.
The Panthers totaled a 221 to defeat Silver Lake and punch their ticket to the postseason in a must-win situation through their final three matches.
“I think that heading in, when we had about five matches left in the season, everyone knew we had to win and we had some tough schools ahead of us that we knew the odds of us beating them were pretty slim,” coach Brian Dempsey said. “In these final three matches, everyone knew we could beat them, it just came down to if we all played well together. They definitely banded together, and they pulled it out.”
It will be just the fifth time Whitman-Hanson has qualified for the state tournament in school history, a boost to the golf program.
“The more successful a program is the more people want to be a part of it,” Dempsey said. “This is only our fifth time making it, now players have the determination to do something that not a lot of people in our school history have done before, which is making moves in the state tournament.”
Devlin led the pack on the course Tuesday, but his leadership has extended past the fairways in his senior season.
“He has leadership on and off the field, he’s phenomenal academically, helping kids out and being there with little motivational speeches here and there,” said Dempsey, who is in his second full year as coach after eight years with the program as an assistant.
In the complete win, sophomore Cole Manning finished 1 over par and junior Josh Kelleher shot 2 over par. Senior Kyle Reardon and juniors Cam Manning and Sam Perkins all contributed with a 5 over par 39.
Cole Manning has been successful throughout the season, finishing most matches with his team’s lowest score regardless of course difficulty or home field advantage.
“He has been our MVP,” Dempsey said. “He’s very competitive and I think the other kids on the team kind of feed off that. It’s rare for a sophomore to have that kind of positive control over his teammates.”
Despite his competitive drive, Dempsey said Manning has an overall attitude and demeanor that’s very playful, lightening the mood for his teammates.
“I think that everybody can sometimes get too caught up with the winning aspect and who’s scoring low,” Dempsey said. “Cole [Manning] is one example, as well as Shane [Devlin], they don’t get too down of themselves. They always try to look at the positive side of things and reflect to work on whatever it may be for the next match.”
Working on the next match is exactly what the Panthers are looking forward to now, with the qualifying round of the state tournament at Easton Country Club looming next Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Some golfers will be headed to Easton this weekend to play a practice round there and get a feel for the course. The practice round was organized entirely by the captains to make sure they give themselves a fighting chance going in, according to Dempsey.
“Although there are usually some very talented schools represented in the state tournament, I feel confident that we can hold our own if everyone plays to their capabilities,” Dempsey said. “We could be one of those sleeper teams people overlook on paper, but I think we’re capable of hanging with anybody.”
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