MOULTONBOROUGH – After a slow decline over the past two years, the players on the Laconia High School golf team have turned things around this year, earning themselves a place in the NHIAA Division III golf tournament, held on Thursday at Ridgewood Country Club in Moultonborough.
The roster of the 2013 team was identical to that of last year's group, with the exception of three incoming freshmen and a new coach, Jason Baldini, an assistant pro at Laconia Country Club. Baldini brought a new level of professionalism to the team, both in skill and attitude. This new outlook translated on the course through the players' respect and dedication to the team.
Assessing the team's raw skills, Baldini worked on perfecting the players' form of swinging, helping them with drives and putting, all showed throughout the season, as they boys racked up eight more wins than they did the season before.
The season of work came to a head on October 3, when Laconia found itself at a critical match at their home Laconia Country Club. This was the last match of the season, and the team's placement in the state tournament would be determined by the performance of the players on that day. The team was up against Pelham, ranked second in the division, Belmont, and Prospect Mountain, which was the team they had to beat in order to qualify for the tournament. At the end of the day Laconia came out on top, beating all three teams and claiming a spot in states on October 10.
The state tournament was a challenge for the Sachems, as they were playing on an 18 hole course instead of their usual 9 hole course. The players worked hard during the state match, finishing with a score of 367 and a seventh place finish. The tournament was won by Bow, which shot 301. Pelham claimed second with 337, followed by Mascenic (338), Gilford (339), Campbell (344) and Kearsarge (357).
Although the team would have liked to have placed better, Baldini said his players were proud of making it to states and of their progress during the season. He said, "I have never coached anything before, but having a background in the field professionally really helped me direct the boys out on the course. The amount of respect that came from the team this year was unbelievable. I felt that they were not only playing for themselves, but also wanted to play well for me, to make me proud."
The team's potential showed over the course of the season and figures to continue to develop next year. Captain Colin Horton, a junior, took the best scores throughout the season and was named the team's MVP for the year. Sophomore, Trevor Weeks was said to be "most improved" by Baldini. The two additional captains and only seniors on the team were Matt Missert and Scott Compton.
Reflecting on the season, Compton said," I'm proud of the team this year. Not just for making it to states but for our record and progress made. I knew that our record would be higher than last year's, but I couldn't have imagined it to be as good as it was. The team came back this season ready to kill it, but a lot of drive and inspiration came from our coach. Baldini helped the team get to where we are now."