SL golfers overcome rainy conditions

SARANAC INN – Dustin Fischer is heading to the state high school golf championships for the second year in a row.

Saranac Lake teammates Ethan Sawyer and Teddy Yanchitis will also be heading to that same tournament at Cornell University for the first time, as will Lake Placid’s Kiefer Casler.

Nolan Reid of Northeastern Clinton is making that trip for the third time, and the senior is going there as Section VII’s individual champion.

Those are some highlights that emerged Friday as the Section VII Golf Championships wrapped up at Saranac Inn.

Perhaps the biggest story that came out of the two-day tournament was the wet weather. A downpour soaked golfers during the later stages of Thursday’s opening round, and the final 18 holes were played under soggy, cold conditions from start to finish.

When all was said and done, Reid battled his way to a one-shot victory over Fischer and Sawyer, who finished tied for second place after leading the Red Storm to the team championship the day before.

Reid followed his first-day low round of 79 with an 85 for a winning 164 total.

After starting out with an 82, Fischer began the second round three shots off the pace. Playing in the final foursome with Reid, it only took Fischer five holes to erase the deficit and surge to a one-stroke lead. The two then went back-and-forth the rest of the way, and Reid held up down the stretch to claim his first individual sectional title. Fischer ended the day with an 83 and a 165 total.

“I’ve been coming to the sectional championships for five years. It’s nice to finally win it,” Reid said. “I just tried to ignore the weather, concentrate on each shot and try to get as many pars as I could. I was even happy with bogeys for the most part. I was kind of all over the place, but I was able to play well enough to win.”

“We were neck-in-neck all day,” Fischer said. “I had my ups and my downs and I was able to stay in it, but at the end of the day, Nolan’s short game was a little better than mine. He’s been in the hunt for a few years, and I’m happy for him. There’s still next year for me.”

Fischer and Reid are the only two players from this year’s sectional tournament who have been to the state championships, with the seven other qualifiers all earning their first trips to Cornell.

Sawyer, a sophomore, combined an 84 with a solid 81 on Friday to work his way into second place and onto Section VII’s state team. Sawyer’s 81 was the second-lowest round Friday, with Plattsburgh’s Nick Dodd owning that honor with a 77.

“I think I put together two pretty good rounds under these conditions,” Sawyer said. “I missed a lot of putts the first day, and I did a better job at that today. Overall, I’m happy with how things went. I’m excited to be going to Cornell. I went to golf camp there last year, so I at least have a feeling for the course.”

After being the Red Storm’s seventh golfer for the past three years, Yanchitis finally earned his chance to play in the team’s top six this spring. The senior, who grew up a short walk away from Saranac Inn’s layout, made the most out of his first and only season competing with two rounds of 87 for a 174 total, which was good enough for an eighth-place tie and a berth on the state team.

“I got hooked on golf here,” Yanchitis said. “I started coming out here with my dad when I was 6 or 7 to swing golf clubs. I dreamed of making the state team on this course, and when I found out the sectionals would be here my senior year, I knew I had a shot at it if I had two good rounds. The best part about it is I am going there with two of my best friends. I’m overwhelmed with joy.”

Casler, a sophomore, was one of six members of Lake Placid’s golf team who swept their way into Friday’s second round. As the top player on a Blue Bombers squad that has only sophomores and younger, Casler was the lone player from his team to qualify for the state tournament. He combined an 84 with a second-day 86 to finish in a tie for fifth place with Elizabethtown’s Connor Marvin, the only golfer from the Mountain and Valley Conference who will travel to Cornell.

“I really wanted to make the state tournament,” Casler said. “That’s been a goal of mine all season. I hit good drives, and today, my putting was spot on. In conditions like we had, an 84, an 86, I’m happy with that.

Dodd came up big with his final-round 77 to be the only Plattsburgh golfer to reach the state tournament. His score was 12 strokes better than the day before, which gave the Hornets’ golfer a fourth-place finish with a 166 total.

Jordan Guay of Peru and Saranac Central’s Austin LaDieu round out Section VII’s state team. Guay finished seventh with a 173 total and LaDieu was a shot back tied for eighth.

Two Saranac Lake golfers and five more Lake Placid golfers also stuck it out in the tough conditions for both days of the sectionals. For Saranac Lake, Austin Ecret finished 11th in the 31-player field with rounds of 88 and 89 to finish with a 177, and senior Bake Gregory fired an 91 and 93 for a 184 total.

Ecret was named to the all-Champlain Valley Athletic Conference team for his performance at the sectional championships.

Lucas Strack led the rest of Lake Placid’s team, finishing with a 179, and Pat Kane was a shot back with a 180. Also for the Blue Bombers, Miles Lussi had a 184, Ryan Kane turned in a 188 total and Bjorn Kroes finished with a 196.

The state championships will be held from May 31-June 3 and include two practice rounds followed by competition on Sunday and Monday.