In a game that demands patience, the Newtown girls golf team members put in 12 months of biding their time to reclaim the SWC title they had won in 2015 and 2016 and were on the verge of winning last year. When early scorekeeping had them ahead by one in 2017 and victory in hand, an astute eye noticed that the Joel Barlow total was off by two too many, giving the Falcons the championship by one instead over the Nighthawks.
On Tuesday at Brownson Country Club in Shelton, the same venue as 2017, Newtown was led by senior standout Sarah Houle to win the championship with an arithmetic-proof total of 406. This time Joel Barlow was 12 shots in arrears, with Masuk at 420, Weston 442 and Brookfield 459. Four other SWC teams sent individual players.
With Houle shooting a 2-over-par 73 to take medalist honors, the Newtown senior class of Houle, Liz Weisgerber and Sydney Marino won three of the four SWC tournaments they played, and Houle was a four-time medalist. She has the CIAC championship to play next week at Tashua Knolls to conclude her high school career before playing college golf at William & Mary.
Houle birdied the 170-yard par-3 fifth hole, hitting a 7-iron to four feet, but bogeyed the par-5 seventh to shoot even-par 35 on the front. She birdied the par-4 10th with an 8-foot putt but had a two-over 38 on the back with trouble on the par 3s: a bogey on 15 and double bogey on 17.
But after finishing 15 shots ahead of runner-up Molly Healey of Joel Barlow—the same 1-2 finishers in 2017—Houle said what got her through the day was a good putting game, wanting to do better than last year’s 79, and focusing on helping her team win.
“Winning medalist honors would be a bonus if I got it,” she said.
Now it’s onto the increased rigors of college golf, with the memories from an incredible four years now all that’s left from high school. “I will miss playing for the town and for something greater than me,” she said. “I have met a lot of great people in high school. It’s made me a greater person, something I hope to carry on in the future.”
Newtown coach Jeremy O’Connell, who said the loss in 2017 was disheartening “but was the right thing,” said his three seniors knew “they had the opportunity to leave on a high note. It helps that your No. 1 player shoots a 73, but the others had their best scores of the year.”
He also knows better than anyone what a blessing it was to have a rare player for four seasons.
“I just think about the type of kid Sarah has been to coach,” he said. “She has grown into a wonderful young adult. She’s a role model for the others. She’s a CIAC Scholar-Athlete. She’s a great kid who others want to be around. I feel she’s grown in her game and in her relationships with her teammates and fellow competitors. This has been a fun opportunity for her and she has not taken things for granted.”
SWC girls golf tournament
Tuesday, Browson CC, Shelton (4,942 yards, par 71)
Team standings: 1. Newtown 406 (Sarah Houle 73, Sydney Marino 107, Liz Weisgerber 112, Nidhi Mukka 114, Gigi Marino 119); Barlow 418 (Molly Healey 88, Madison Amente, 102, Elena Bosak 109, Jessica Huminski 119, Riley Spurgeon 125); Masuk 420 (Emma Michetti 99, Kaitlyn Logan 103, Hannah Epifano 107, Lindsey Breyan 111, Sofia Heinrich 124); Weston 442 (Halley Melito 98, Sarah Johnson 106, Abby West 118, Carolyn Zech 120, Zaina Dove 124); Brookfield 459 (Kaitlin Farias 101, Julia Sommerfeld 107, Emmi Paulino 123, Sabrina Zavarelli 128, Zoel Weber 139).
Individual standings: Sarah Houle, Newtown 73; Molly Healey, Joel Barlow 88; Katelyn Pond, Notre Dame-Fairfield 97; Halley Melito, Weston 98; Emma Michetti, Masuk 99; Kaitlin Farias, Brookfield 101; Madison Amente, Joel Barlow 102; Kaitlyn Logan, Masuk 103; Sarah Johnson, Weston 106; Hannah Epifano, Masuk 107; Sydney Marino, Newtown 107; Julia Sommerfeld, Brookfield 107; Elena Bosak, Joel Barlow 109; Lindsey Breyan, Masuk 111; Liz Weisgerber, Newtown 112; Nidhi Mukka, Newtown 114; Abby West, Weston 118; Abigail Allen, Immaculate 119; Jessica Huminski, Joel Barlow 119; Gigi Marino, Newtown 119; Avery Jarboe, Immaculate 120; Carolyn Zech, Weston 120; Emmi Paulino, Brookfield 123; Zaina Dove, Weston 124; Sofia Heinrich, Masuk 124; Riley Spurgeon, Joel Barlow 125; Sierra O’Keefe, Notre Dame-Fairfield 128; Sabrina Zavarelli, Brookfield 128; Danka Hlinka, Bunnell 131; Zoel Weber, Brookfield 139; Jennifer Melo, Stratford 147; Marissa Cantiello, Stratford 148; Stacy Medina, Stratford 148