HARWINTON — East Catholic avenged last year’s playoff loss to Killingly for the CIAC Division III state golf championship Tuesday at Fairview Farm Golf Course in Harwinton as Lewis Mills’ Colby Norton shot a dazzling 69 for the individual championship.
A year ago, Eagles coach Tom Malin had to pull then-No. 6 player Ryan Zurcher out of a math class to replace one of East Catholic’s top five who became sick the day of the tournament. Zurcher came through with an 82, helping the Eagles tie Killingly for the championship, then lost by two strokes to the Redmen, winners of two of the last three state tournaments.
This year, Zurcher’s 79 was second-lowest on the team behind a 74 from Colin Luca and a pair of 81s by Michael Walling and Heath Olivieri. Their 315 total edged Killingly (319) by four strokes, sending the Redmen to their second runner-up finish in the last four years while handing Malin his 13th state title in 38 years at East Catholic.
“We knew we had a good team and the older guys needed this one after last year,” East Catholic’s Michael Walling said.
“This group set a goal and worked hard to get it,” said Malin, whose fifth (nonscoring) man Tuesday, Kenny D’Attilio, proved their worth with an 84 that would have glittered on most of the other 18 teams in the tournament.
Meanwhile, Norton’s individual championship was a nice consolation prize for third-place Mills. The Berkshire League champion Spartans took 13 strokes off their winning performance in last week’s league All-Star Tournament for a 320, with Kyle Goulet (81), Andrew LeBland (83) and Ryan Flanders (87) following Norton’s lead.
Ironically, the Spartans shot a 315 in a practice session Saturday.
“I told them, if we shoot like this on Tuesday, we’ll win the tournament,” Lewis Mills coach Jay Pelchar said.
That didn’t happen, but Norton, a junior, posted his best score on the Spartans’ home course. The BL All-Star medalist shot a 71 on the par-72 course shed two more strokes Tuesday, finishing with just one bogey, along with four birdies and 13 pars.
“I hit straight drives that helped put me in position. Then I made some putts down the stretch,” said Norton, who started playing in tournaments when he was nine, turning a corner in focus and practice time two years later.
The top three finishers in each of the four division championships, plus the next three in a complicated formula of differential scores, are invited to this Saturday’s State Open at Old Lyme’s Black Hall Club.
CIAC DIVISION III GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP
At Fairview Farm (Par 72)