Old Town Finishes 3rd in 2016 State High School Championship
Seniors Alex Blackie and Wes Kauppila each shot 82, leading the Old Town HS Coyote golf team to a third place finish in the Maine High School Team State Championship on Saturday on the Tomahawk course at Natanis. Old Town’s 331 put them behind state champion Erskine (317) and the 2015 state champion Cape Elizabeth (325).
Senior Cole Daniel shot 83, while juniors Chris Kauppila and Dillon Leland rounded out Old Town’s balanced scoring with 84 and 87.
“Not one kid on my team is happy with how they played in this championship today,” said Old Town coach Joe Perdue. “We played a practice round here on Wednesday, and although nobody played particularly well, we had 320. I was hoping everyone could adjust a little bit to the greens here and would be able to improve upon that today, but it just didn’t happen.”
After winning the Class B PVC Championship last week, the Coyote’s focus was on their short game heading into Saturday. “We had a team meeting on Monday, and I told the kids this tournament would be won from 100 yards in, and we spent a lot of extra time all week on that part of their games. Every kid on this team can hit the ball, and hit it very well. But to be the best in the state, you have to be sharp around the greens,” said Perdue.
As it turned out, that is what kept Old Town out of the top spot. Leland, probably the Coyote’s best putter, had 43 putts. Blackie had several 3-putts and a 4-putt. Daniel, while he didn’t putt badly, just couldn’t get anything to drop, and was burning the edge of the cup all day long. Chris Kauppila, who is normally an excellent putter, and his brother Wes, who is also a good putter, both struggled with the short stick as well.
“I don’t think the speed of the greens really bothered the kids that much,” said Perdue, “but it was just one of those days where they never got comfortable, and couldn’t get anything to drop.
“Golf is that way. You can prepare and prepare and prepare, but sometimes the putts just don’t go your way. That’s how it was today. Everyone had a solid game plan and approach to this course. There are some holes you can play aggressively, and there are other holes where you have to be willing to lay up with a 7-iron. Nobody went out and hit stupid shots. Everyone stuck to their game plan. It was just the execution from inside 100 yards that didn’t happen today. That’s golf sometimes.
“Even though everyone is disappointed in how they played today, this should not take anything away from what this core group of kids has accomplished over the past four years,” said Perdue. “Every single kid has worked their tail off. Every single kid has been at every single practice. Every single kid has done everything I have asked them to do. And all of that effort, hard work and dedication put them in the position today to compete for this championship, and to have a realistic expectation of winning this state competition.”
The statistics back this up. The Coyotes won their second consecutive PVC Conference Championship this year, and two years ago finished second. In the past three years, they have finished fourth, second and now third in the state championship. Their regular season win-loss record the past four years is 61-4, including a perfect 19-0 record this season. Their regular season team scoring average has improved over the past four years from 191 to 155. And they are currently riding a 24-match regular season winning streak, and have won 55 of their last 56 matches.
Individually, it’s the same. Over the past three years, Wes Kauppila’s 9-hole scoring average went from 46.25 to 38.22. Cole Daniel went from 45.22 to 38.44. Chris Kauppila improved from 43.09 to 38.78. Alex Blackie has improved the most over that time, averaging 49.11 as a freshman and finishing his senior season with a 39.11 average. Dillon Leland has gone from a 48.0 average to 40.0. Samantha Dauphinee, who didn’t qualify for the team championship but will be competing for the Girl’s State Individual Championship next week, has had her average improve from 54.56 to 45.67.
“You look at all of these statistics, and you look at everything these kids have accomplished…..they can all stand with their heads held high. They are gentlemen on the course. They respect the game of golf. They respect their fellow competitors. Off the course, they are outstanding students and outstanding people. They all carry themselves well beyond what you would expect from someone their age. From a coaches perspective, you could only dream about having a group of kids like this. It has been a privilege to be their coach,” said Perdue.
Things aren’t quite finished for the 2016 high school golf season. The Maine State Boys and Girls Individual Championships are this coming Saturday at Natanis. Old Town qualified six players for the championship: Wes Kauppila, Cole Daniel, Chris Kauppila, Alex Blackie, Dillon Leland and Samantha Dauphinee. Daniel finished tied for fourth in this competition last year, while Chris Kauppila missed the New England Championship by only one shot, finishing in a tie for 7th. Dauphinee also played quite well in last year’s individual championship, shooting 104 and finishing in a tie for 30th.