HEBRON >> Morgan golf coach Eric Bergman doesn’t easily forget a half-dozen years ago when the program went through a winless season.
“We couldn’t garner any support for the team. I thought we were in jeopardy of losing the program,” Bergman said.
It brings much more appreciation to what the Huskies have accomplished the past three years. They added another Division IV state title to the cache, the program’s third straight, Monday afternoon at Tallwood Country Club.
“This was not our best round, but it was enough to win it,” Bergman said. “The more we experience success, the more the kids in the younger grades start to get excited.”
The Huskies finished with a cumulative stroke total of 333, four strokes better than Canton. Maxx Bugg led the way for Morgan with a 6-over-par 78.
“It’s hard because everyone thinks you will do it every year,” Bugg said. “You really have to keep mentally strong and block out what everyone says and play your own game.”
Kevin Daley helped the cause by posting an 80 for Morgan, which also won its third straight Shoreline Conference title last week.
A.J. Ouimet of East Windsor was the medalist, firing an even-par 72. Nicklaus Harrington of Parish Hill, the medalist each of the last two years in this meet, shot a 76 to finish tied for second place with Preston Shortell from Holy Cross.
Portland finished third at 344, followed by fellow Shoreline Conference foes Cromwell (352) and Hale Ray (358).
Canton’s runner-up finish was not without some controversy. Logan Anderson, the Warriors’ top golfer, called himself for a one-stroke penalty on the par-4 10th hole for unintentionally moving the ball at address.
But before scorecards were signed by the day’s final group, discussions emerged whether Anderson had moved the ball intentionally. Bugg, who played in the same group, wasn’t sure.
“I watched him drop and I saw where it ended up in a divot and I walked to my bag pick the club and when I turned around, he was just about to take a swing and the ball was in front of the divot about four inches,” Bugg said. “I wasn’t sure if I looked away too soon and it had rolled out of the divot. I didn’t really know what was going on. … When he got in (after the round), he admitted to tapping the ball out of the divot.”
So after 45 minutes of discussion that included a phone call to the United States Golf Association for clarification, it was determined because no one involved in the actual group saw exactly what happened, what Anderson called on himself stood rather than a two-shot penalty or a disqualification.
“If it was an intentional act on his part that he moved the ball, it was a minimum a two-shot penalty or a disqualification,” said Paul Hoey, the CIAC assistant executive director. “But no one actually saw it happen. … That’s why it took so much time. We wanted to be sure.”
Said Canton coach Bill Phelps: “The bottom line is one of the things we stress how important the rules are. I’m so proud of him, that means more to me than winning this, knowing that he made the mistake and owned up to it that’s a lot of character.”
Playing in the first group of the day, Ouimet jump-started his round with a chip-in for eagle on the par-5 first hole.
“I had breathing room, so the two bogeys that followed it didn’t make that big of an impact on me,” Ouimet said.
No. 1 was one of a “handful of fairways” Ouimet hit all day long. But he still managed to make four birdies (6, 8, 11 and 18). He said he had 12 putts on his front nine, including six straight one-putts.
“ I was hitting the ball erratic off the tee, course seemed to be really open in the spots I was missing so that helped a lot,” Ouimet said. “I had a lot of up-and-downs I didn’t think I was going to be able to grab.”
Division IV championship
(at Tallwood CC, par 72)
Team results: 1. Morgan, 333; 2. Canton, 337; 3. Portland, 344; 4. Cromwell, 352; 5. Hale-Ray, 358; 6. Parish Hill, 359; 7. Litchfield 360; 8. Coventry, 361; 9. Northwest Catholic, 362; 10 (tie) Somers and Trinity Catholic, 363; 12. Immaculate, 365; 13. (tie) Valley Regional and Holy Cross, 367; 15. Old Lyme 373; 16. Sacred Heart, 389; 17. Tourtellotte, 390; 18. Shepaug Valley, 396; 19. Stafford, 402; 20. Windsor Locks, 412.
AJ Ouimet (East Windsor), 72; Nicklaus Harrington (Parish Hill), 76; Preston Shortell (Holy Cross), 76; Julian Thomas (Cromwell), 77; Maxx Bugg (Morgan), 78; Alex Olker (Canton), 78; Logan Anderson (Canton), 78; Shane Fiala (Hale-Ray), 79; Nathan Leigh (Litchfield), 80; Kevin Daley (Morgan), 80; Joe D’Andrea (Litchfield), 83; Justin Craco (Valley Regional), 83; Terence Hannigan (Immaculate), 83; Nick Piersall (Portland), 83; Griffin Northrop (Trinity Catholic), 84; Riley Hollis (Canton), 84.