WAYLAND – The thought of securing a spot in the Division 2 sectional tournament and then performing well enough to be one of the three teams from the sectional district to advance to the state championship wasn’t on Nauset boys golf coach Brian Hicks’ radar when the Warriors first met for practice in August.
“If you had told me at the start of the year that we were going to be 14-4 and make it out of the sectionals, I would’ve said, ‘No way!’” Hicks said as he stood inside the Sandy Burr Country Club in Wayland on Monday afternoon.
Regardless of what the preseason expectations might have been, that scenario Hicks recounted — a 14-4 record, a sectional berth that turned into a trip to the state final — was exactly how the Warriors’ season transpired.
With a mix of solid veteran leadership and experience and remarkable young talent, Nauset advanced all the way to Monday’s Division 2 state final.
That proved to be a bittersweet finish line for the Warriors, however — they finished 11th out of 13 teams with a team total of 350. Bishop Stang (305) outlasted Canton (309) to win the team crown; Max Hampoian, a junior from Austin Prep, was crowned the individual champion after shooting a 3-under-par 69.
The Nauset players struggled to feel comfortable during their round, which was wet and soggy throughout the afternoon.
“With the weather and everything, my club selection was a little different based on which way the rain was coming and how cold it was, just because the ball doesn’t travel as far,” said Jack Martin, a freshman from Yarmouth who led the Warriors on Monday with a team-low 4-over par 76.
“When we teed off, it was a little foggy and kind of drizzling,” said senior Nemo Frawley, an Eastham resident who carded a 97. “And then around my fifth or sixth hole, it started downpouring for about 45 minutes and then it was kind of foggy and a little misty.”
Senior Cooper Guiliano said he continued to be bothered by a back injury that has plagued him in recent weeks. He shot an 8-over-par 80, while junior Sam Weiner matched Fawley with another 97.
Even though it wasn’t the way the team — and particularly the two seniors — wanted the season to end, the Warriors were able to muster an immediate appreciation for all they accomplished this fall.
Like Hicks, Guiliano had tempered expectations for what this season might look like after dealing with an unprecedented and unlucky 2020 season.
“On our first day of tryouts, I really didn’t know what was going to go on,” said Guiliano, an Orleans resident. “We went out to dinner, like 12 of us, and we went out to play mini golf and I was really happy because I was really scared because last year really wasn’t fun. But everyone kind of pulled together and made it a really fun environment. You are always having more fun when you’re performing well, but it was the kids who made it so much fun.”
Guiliano and Frawley will leave a big hole in next year’s lineup after they graduate, but Hicks is hopeful an increased interest in the program will lead to some new talented players in coming years.
“The JV program is strong for the first time in a long time,” the coach said. “We allowed eighth graders in for the first time so our numbers are up. I think we had 22 players between the two programs and the last two years we’ve been under 12 total.”
Hicks pointed out it won’t be easy to replicate what Guiliano and Frawley brought to this year’s team, but he’s optimistic Martin will continue to develop after being a key contributor this fall.
“He’s a kid who loves the game and is going to do things to get better,” Hicks said of Martin. “He’ll be back here three more times as an individual if we don’t qualify as a team, and he’ll be back here making a run at a state title.”
Martin’s fall slate isn’t over. He was invited to compete in the New England high school championship on Nov. 1 at Mohegan Sun in Baltic, Conn. Each of the region’s six states are allowed to send a combined 12 players, with both boys and girls represented.
“I got the phone call Saturday night and I was just like, ‘What is this?’ because I had never heard of it,” Martin said. “But then I looked into it and it looks awesome. I’m really looking forward to the experience.”
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com. Twitter: @BradJoyal