If there’s one thing that’s certain about the Section VI boys golf championships, it’s the uncertainty. The event is played out over 27 holes, with 9 golfers (sorry, lads, no ties) moving on to statewide competition at Robert Trent Jones golf club in Ithaca. Golfers who earned a spot in 2015 are exempt into the one-day shootout, but from that point on, they have to prove their worth all over again. For some, the return is sweet while for others, the result is bitter.
Two golfers with storied histories did not disappoint. Ben Reichert of Williamsville North and Nolan Ditcher of Randolph came into the tournament as distinct favorites. Reichert had won on the AJGA Tour, while Ditcher qualified for the Federation Championship (the step beyond public school states) as a freshman. Each had won his league individual title ahead of their date with destiny at River Oaks. After 18 holes, both were tied at the top with 74. During the extra nine holes (after the cut, which fell at 83 this year), Reichert pulled ahead and edged Ditcher by 5, with 112 for 27 holes. Ditcher and Matt Pawlak (Niagara Wheatfield), the NFL medalist, tied for second at 117.
For Section VI boys golf chairman Nate Leary (Orchard Park high school), the tournament was a challenge to organize and to coach. Five of his golfers qualified into the third nine, and two of them (Jack Devic and Mitchell Smith) moved on to the state team. The other three (Aidan Shaw, Alex Prise and Grant Merkel) finished an agonizing 10th, 11th and 12th, respectively.
Rounding out the state team for 2016 are Connor Seeley of Wilson h.s., Cary Ignaczak of Lake Shore, and Cam Eddy and Alex Fisher of Ellicottville. The state tournament will be held June 4-6, on the campus of Cornell University, at the Robert Trent Jones golf course. For images from the tournament, see below.
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