Storm soak up second-straight sectional title

SARANAC INN – On a day when every golfer got soaked in the rain, some more than others, Saranac Lake nailed down its second straight Section VII team title Thursday on the first day of the championships at Saranac Inn.

It also marks the second year in a row the Red Storm have captured both the postseason and regular-season Champlain Valley Athletic Conference crowns.

Saranac Lake won with a score of 341 strokes, which was the combined total of its four lowest rounds of the day. In a rare occurrence, Lake Placid, Northeastern Clinton and Peru all finished in a tie for second place 10 shots back with 351 totals.

“Our kids got it done on tough day,” Saranac Lake head coach Chris Stevens said. “I couldn’t be more pleased. The rain was coming down sideways, and it was a real difficult day to be out there.”

In his two years of leading the Red Storm golfers, Stevens now has four championships.

“The fact is, I inherited a good team from coach (Jim) Hayden,” Stevens said. “This is a program that won many championships before I took over, and I give coach Hayden a ton of credit for that.”

Five of six the golfers competing for Saranac Lake survived the cut of 94 to advance to today’s round, which will determine the individual champion and the nine players who will represent Section VII in the state championships at Cornell University, June 1-3.

Dustin Fischer shot the low round for the Red Storm, an 82. The junior started today’s second round three shots behind Northeastern Clinton senior Nolan Reid, who took the lead with a 79 on Thursday.

Ethan Sawyer fired an 84 for the Red Storm, Teddy Yanchitis followed with an 87 and Austin Ecret had an 88 to complete Saranac Lake’s total. Blake Gregory also advanced for the Red Storm with a 91. Just a freshman, Carley Sawyer had a tough introduction to the sectional tournament, finishing with a 101 total to miss the cut.

“I know Carley didn’t have the kind of day she wanted, but she still has been a big factor for us,” Stevens said. “She played in that sixth spot all year that helped get us to 9-1. She’s a champion along with the rest of players.”

In grabbing a share of second place, Lake Placid saw all of its golfers reach today’s second round. Thursday marked the Blue Bombers best finish at the sectionals in John Glinski’s 14 years as the team’s head coach.

“All things considered, I’m very satisfied,” Glinski said. “Not one of my kids on this year’s team made it to the second day last year. I had two seniors that did, so it will be a new experience for our kids. We were the only team to have everybody coming back.

“I’ve been doing this for 14 years, and this is the first time we’ve finished second,” Glinski added. “I’ve had two or three years where we’ve been third, and I think the last time Lake Placid won this was back in 1997.”

Kiefer Casler was Lake Placid’s top player with an 84, and Pat Kane was next with an 86. Lucas Strack’s 87 was the team’s third lowest round, and Miles Lussi, Ryan Kane and Bjorn Kroes all advanced with 94s.

“Pat Kane and Lucas Strack have been playing at fourth and fifth for us this season, and they really came through for us,” Glinski said. “Everybody played under really tough conditions, and I think the scores reflected that. It was just nasty. On the bus before we started, we discussed that it was going to be a long day, a long grind. We knew there would probably be some delays. We knew we were going to get wet and we knew we just have to gut it out. I think all the kids were pretty happy with what they did.”

In addition to seeing all his golfers return today, Glinski said he was pleased to see Saranac Lake send a big contingent back as well.

“Eleven golfers back for the second round, that’s a good showing for the Tri-Lakes,” he said.

Today’s round could prove to be even more difficult with steady rain and colder temperatures predicted for the round.