The regional high school golf team took 10th place out of 12 on Monday in the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletics Association finals.
"Qualifying for the finals was what really made the season," head coach Doug DeBettencourt told the Gazette this week. "I think the trip went very well, the kids played pretty well."
The match was played at the Wyantenuck Country Club in Great Barrington. Senior co-captain Matt Marchand had the lowest score for the Vineyard, shooting a 79 to finish 20th overall. Senior co-captain Kat deBettencourt shot an 81 to finish 28th. The six members of the team shot a combined 338.
This is the first year the team has competed in division three; the last time the team was in the state finals, in 2003, they were in division two.
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Vineyard high school golf team. Instead, the team found itself in the state tournament finals, a first for Coach DeBettencourt.
The state finals featured the top 12 teams in the state, determined by performance in the division three sectional tournaments. On Oct. 21, competing at the Dennis Highlands Golf Course, the Vineyard earned the championship title for the south section with a team score of 316. Senior Ben Lukowitz was co-medalist with Nantucket’s Marshall Shaffar-Roggeveen, shooting a 75.
The south section tournament was “by far the best effort we put out,” said senior co-captain Matt Marchand during practice the following Friday at the Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs.
Lukowitz shot the best score of his career and finished first off the course, waiting with Coach DeBettencourt for the rest of the team to come in even as players from other teams returned with scores of “76, 77, 77,” Lukowitz recalled.
Marshand returned with what he thought was an 81, but on checking the scorecard it was actually a 79. Matt’s younger sister Kaitlin came in with an 89. “Not bad, since she’s a girl going from guys’ tees,” the coach said. The golf team is one of two co-ed teams at the high school (the other is sailing).
Kat deBettencourt, one of only three girls competing in the south section tournament, was the last to return from the course, having shot an 80.
“When Zak and Finn came in, that really boosted us,” Marchand said, referring to freshmen Zak Danz and Finn Simpkins. The two had each shot an 82. Marchand recalled the coach saying: “Wow, we have a chance.”
Still, first place was not on their minds. “We thought second place,” Lukowitz said. When the final tallies came in, the Vineyard was tied with Monomoy at 316 points. The winner of the match was decided by tie-breaker — the fifth-lowest score, which was Danz’s 82.
“It seemed like we all really came together,” Simpkins said. “Everybody did what they were supposed to do.”
This was all unexpected.
“We were a new team coming into the season,” Kat deBettencourt said. DeBettencourt, Marchand and Lukowitz were the lone seniors on the team, and Katilin Marchand the only other returning player. There are eight players on the varsity team, but only six compete in the tournaments.
The team had several near misses during the regular season, with the toughest loss coming against conference rival Bishop Stang, when the Vineyard lost by one point.
“The ones we lost were close,” Lukowitz said. But when the Vineyard did win, he added, it was in a decisive manner.
The team had to win five of its last six matches to qualify for the south tournament.
“I think that after we won the five out of six we thought we might have a chance,” Matt Marshand said.