RAY BROOK - For the past three years, Saranac Lake has dominated its way to three consecutive golf championships in the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference while compiling a 29-1 record in the process.
On Tuesday, Lake Placid's golfers dashed the Red Storm's hopes for a fourth-straight league title on the final afternoon of the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference's regular season.
In a showdown between two 9-0 teams, the Blue Bombers captured their first league title since the mid 1990s, beating the Red Storm in a tiebreaker at the Saranac Lake golf club in Ray Brook.
Lake Placid freshman Bjorn Kroes rolls a putt toward the cup on the seventh hole at Ray Brook during Tuesday’s match against Saranac Lake.
Lou Reuter/Lake Placid News
The contest lived up to its billing as three golfers from each team claimed victories, which sent the decision to a tiebreaker that combined the lowest four scores from each squad. In the end, Lake Placid squeaked by with a 163-160 victory.
"Finally," Lake Placid coach John Glinski said with a sigh and a smile after seeing the Blue Bombers win their first league title during his 15 years as the head of the school's golf program. "Consistency has been our biggest asset all season, and we got some good scores from the guys again.
"I'm really happy for these guys, especially since our three losses last season all came in tiebreakers," Glinski added. "And winning here on Saranac Lake's home course makes it even better."
Bjorn Kroes caught fire to lead Lake Placid. Just a freshman, Kroes cruised through his afternoon with eight straight pars and finished off with a birdie on the final hole to post a medalist round one-under par 35 to beat Saranac Lake's Dustin Fischer in the No. 2 match.
"We expected it to come down to a tiebreaker," Kroes said. "Even if we're playing bad, we know that every stroke counts. It's been a different year for me. Last year, I was playing sixth on the team, and I worked hard at getting better. We all played a lot of golf and it paid off. 10 and 0; we're excited about that."
Fischer, who is one of the top players in Section VII, had an uncharacteristically rocky outing at home and finished with a 47.
"It stings, but it happens to the best," said Fischer, a senior. "Lake Placid has been tough all season, and we knew it was going to be close. I just wish I played better. I was all over the place today. I guess if it wasn't us, I'm glad it was Lake Placid. They have a great team, they don't have any seniors, and they will be a powerhouse next year."
The Blue Bombers other two wins came from their fifth and sixth golfers in two tight contests. In the fifth pairing, Pat Kane edged Tanner Courcelle 41-43, and at No. 6 Lucas Strack defeated Danny Strack 44-46.
Ethan Sawyer, Austin Ecret and Carley Sawyer all turned in solid rounds to pick up Saranac Lake's three wins. Ethan Sawyer, a junior, fired a 38 to edge Kiefer Casler by two shots in the No. 1 contest to finish the regular season with a perfect 10-0 mark. Ecret defeated Lake Placid's Miles Lussi 41-48 in the third match, and Carley Sawyer carded a season-low 41 at home to claim a three-stroke victory over Ryan Kane in the fourth pairing.
"First, I have to give credit to coach Glinski and their team," Saranac Lake head coach Chris Stevens said. "It was kind of like the Super Bowl. It was the best two teams, it was either us or them, and if we couldn't win, I'm glad they did. Lake Placid has been playing great golf all season. Dustin had a tough day, Danny Strack had a tough day, but all of our kids came to play."
Although they lost Tuesday's match, the Red Storm still have a chance to nail down another title when the Westport Country Club hosts the Section VII Golf Championships on Thursday and Friday. The team competition takes place Thursday and Saranac Lake will be looking to win that championship for the third year in a row.
"It's a big deal to get the CVAC title, because that shows you are the best in the league, and obviously, our guys were disappointed," Stevens said. "But just because we lost the CVAC, that doesn't mean we've been unsuccessful this season. I'm really happy with our year going 9-1 in the league, and there's still more at stake come Thursday. We want to go down to Westport and show the other teams just what we're made of."
"It's time for us to regroup collectively," said Fischer, who is expected to be in the hunt for an individual title in Westport. "There's a team trophy up for grabs, and we're going to give it our best shot. It looks like it will be between us and Lake Placid again, but you can't count anyone out."