KENSINGTON >> It took three sudden-death playoff holes this time around, but the result ended up being the same for th Morgan boys golf team.
Morgan defended its Division IV state championship Wednesday, beating Northwest Catholic by two strokes in the playoff at Timberlin Golf Club.
“Last year, we kind of snuck in there and no one thought we were legit because we never really contended before,” senior Gabe Van Ness said. “This year, we had the target on our back. We were the defending champions. To go out and do it again is unreal.”
Said Morgan coach Eric Bergman: “Once we went to the playoff, I knew we would be state champions. I really believed it. These guys absolutely deserve it.”
The Huskies lost just twice all year, both times to Hand, and also won the Shoreline Conference title last week. They were seeded fourth coming into the Division IV meet while Northwest Catholic was the top seed.
“It feels a little different. Last year it was unprecedented. The school had never won a golf championship in its history,” Bergman said. “This year, we gave Morgan golf legitimacy This year, we went out there and beat one of the best golf teams (Northwest Catholic) in the state.”
Morgan trailed Northwest Catholic until Van Ness shot a 1-under 71 in the final group to help force the sudden-death playoff. Both Morgan and Northwest Catholic finished regulation with 320. Maxx Bugg of Morgan tied for fourth place with a 75.
All five players for each team played the first three holes at Timberlin in the playoff. The aggregate score was 55-57.
“They shot some really good scores on some competitive golf courses,” Northwest Catholic coach Scott Fletcher said. “They are the real deal. I told our kids they will remember this for the rest of their lives, win or lose.”
The last CIAC boys golf playoff before Wednesday was in the 2006 Division IV meet when Rocky Hill beat Weston, also at Timberlin GC.
The Division II meet also ended in a tie between Notre Dame-West Haven and New Canaan on Wednesday. That meet used a shotgun format for the first time.
Joel Cookson, director of media services for the CIAC, said the golf committee had not previously determined under a shotgun format what the playoff format would be, thus determining co-champions.
Sharing co-medalist honors with Van Ness was Nick Harrington of Parish Hill. The junior was solo medalist last year in Division IV at Crestbrook Park GC in Watertown.
“(Crestbrook) is kind of a tricky course. This is more straight forward and a longer golf course,” said Harrington, who has already orally committed to play at UConn. “I felt a lot of pressure. I could easily have a bad day. I knew I had to keep my head in it and I was playing well coming in.”
Canton finished third (329), followed by Coventry (339), Trinity Catholic (340) and Cromwell (341).
1. Morgan 320 (+32, won 3-hole playoff 55-57); 2. Northwest Catholic 320 (+32); 3. Canton 329 (+41); 4. Coventry 339 (+51); 5. Trinity Catholic 340 (+52); 6. Cromwell 341 (+53); 7. Valley Regional 343 (+55); T8. Portland 345 (+57); T8. Thomaston 345 (+57); 10. Litchfield 348 (+60); 11. Tourtellotte 350 (+62); 12. St Paul Catholic 361 (+73); 13. Somers 362 (+74); 14. Parish Hill 363 (+75); 15. East Hampton 367 (+79); 16. Shepaug Valley 371 (+83); T17. Sacred Heart 372 (+84); T17. Hale Ray 372 (+84); 19. Notre Dame Catholic 382 (+94); 20. Windsor Locks 407 (+119)
Top 20 Individuals
T1. Nicklaus Harrington, Parish Hill 71 (-1); T1. Gabe Van Ness, Morgan 71 (-1); 3. Spencer Salvas*, Putnam 72 (E); T4. Maxx Bugg, Morgan 75 (+3); T4. Hunter Byram, Coventry 75 (+3); 6. Michael Jezierski, Tourtellotte 76 (+4); 7. Thaddeus Link, Northwest Catholic 77 (+5); T8. Shane Fiala, Hale Ray 78 (+6); T8. Riley Hollis, Canton 78 (+6); T8. Demitrios Yao, Northwest Catholic 78 (+6); T11. Justin Fiala, Hale Ray 80 (+8); T11. Parker Lyons, Canton 80 (+8); T11. Michael Szemenyei, Trinity Catholic 80 (+8); T11. Sean Oleasz, Northwest Catholic 80 (+8); T11. Nick Lattanzio, Cromwell 80 (+8); 16. Sydney Stengel, Thomaston 81 (+9); T17. Luke Gagon, Valley Regional 82 (+10); T17. Brandon Bonnette, Tourtellotte 82 (+10); T17. Ethan Thompson, Valley Regional 82 (+10); T17. Nick Piersall, Portland 82 (+10)