NEW BRITAIN >> The Morgan boys golf team may not talk about it too often, but it’s almost like the proverbial elephant in the room.
The opportunity to win both league and state championship titles is the ultimate goal for any team. For Morgan, the opportunity is now at hand to accomplish it a third straight year — and the pressure that comes along with holding off all the contenders.
“These guys don’t get ahead of themselves,” Morgan coach Eric Bergman said. “The personality of this team is Maxx’s personality of composure and not to get too bent out of shape. Maxx has a nice even keel that filters down to the other kids.”
“Maxx” is Maxx Bugg, the Huskies’ senior leader and now medalist for the second straight year in the Shoreline Conference tournament. Bugg shot a 3-over-par 74 at Stanley Golf Course to help the Huskies win their third straight league title.
“The hard work we put in and the ability to stay focused and not take it for granted as well,” said Bugg when asked about the three-peat. “Throughout the whole season, we mentioned it a couple of times. It was not going to be easy losing Gabe, so we had to play well.”
Gabe Van Ness, now playing at Bryant University, was on hand to see his former teammates clinch the three-peat. The Huskies won by even more strokes — 23 — than last year (21). Morgan finished with a cumulative total of 317. Portland (340) and Cromwell (341) finished second and third, respectively.
“You have to give them a ton of credit for what they have done the last three years,” Portland coach Joe Santavenere said. “They lost some really strong players and they stayed right there. To not fall off, you have to give them a ton of credit.”
Bugg shot a 6-under 66 last year at Alling Memorial GC in New Haven. Under Tuesday’s soggy conditions at Stanley GC, it was a workmanlike 74 for the senior headed to Tampa University in the fall.
“Last year, I was on fire,” Bugg said. “This year, it was worse weather, so I had to stay strong mentally and get the ball in the hole as efficiently as possible without making any big numbers.”
Said Bergman: “Just the way he carries himself, there are many adults who can take a lesson from Maxx Bugg and do very well for themselves.”
Kevin Daley, Bugg’s teammate, shot a 76, one of just four players to break 80 (Cromwell’s Julian Thomas finished second with a 75 and Haddam-Killingworth’s Alex Segaline took fourth with a 78). Burton Caldwell and Jack Bugg shot 83 and 84, respectively, for the Huskies.
“These guys don’t get intimidated by much,” Bergman said. “In fact, we seem to have a little intimidation factor against other teams. I don’t know why because they are the nicest kids you are ever going to meet.”
Dylan Pelletier and Shane Fiala both shot 84 to help Valley Regional (361) and Hale-Ray (365) finish fourth and fifth, respectively in the tournament.
Now Morgan attempts the three-peat for the Division IV state title on Monday at Tallwood CC in Hebron.
“We will go into it like we did today, have some fun and however it plays out, it plays out. I want our guys to be really known for great character even more than their golf.”
Shoreline Championship meet
(at Stanley GC)
Team results: 1. Morgan, 317; 2. Portland, 340; 3. Cromwell, 341; 4. Valley Regional, 361; 5. Hale-Ray, 365; 6. Old Lyme, 366; 7. North Branford, 379; 8. Haddam-Killingworth, 380; 9. Coginchaug, 391; 10. Old Saybrook, 401; 11. East Hampton, 423.
Maxx Bugg (Morgan), 74; Julian Thomas (Cromwell), 75; Kevin Daley (Morgan), 76; Alex Segaline (Haddam Killingworth), 78; Nick Piersall (Portland), 80; Burton Caldwell (Morgan), 83; Jack Bugg (Morgan), 84; Jimmy Kelley (Portland), 84; Dylan Pelletier (Valley Regional), 84; Shane Fiala (Hale-Ray), 84; Connor Giveans (Portland), 87; Alex Basil (East Hampton), 87; Colin Kenny (Cromwell), 87; Graham Aird (Old Lyme), 88; Brett Sadinsky (Cromwell), 88; Alex Martone (North Branford), 88.