Conant golfers prepare for run at state meet
When Noah Miller tees off Thursday morning at Newport Country Club, he’ll know exactly what he’s in for.
That’s because Miller and Maki Seppala, the top two players on the Conant golf team, did a bit of research on their own Tuesday after school.
“The front nine is definitely the easier of the two,” Miller, a senior, said Tuesday night after returning home from playing the par-71, 6,415-yard track. “The back nine’s a pretty good test. It’s a little longer. The rough is a penalty.
“It’s definitely an advantage to have played.”
The Orioles (14-10), the No. 5 seed in Thursday’s Division III state tournament, will need every advantage they can get to unseat top-seeded Pelham (22-0) for the championship.
But after a rough start to the season, Conant’s been playing much better as of late and only lost to Pelham by five strokes last week at Campbell’s Scottish Highlands in Salem.
“I think they have a really good team,” Miller said. “But I think the opportunity is definitely there to compete with them.
“I think we’re definitely on the positive upswing now.”
After 18 holes of stroke play Thursday, each team’s four lowest scorers will determine the team winner.
The Division I and Division II state tournaments also will be held Thursday, at Dover’s Cochecho Country Club and Canterbury Woods, respectively. The D-IV meet is Thursday at Newport.
After Seppala and Miller, Conant’s No. 1 and No. 2, the Cougars will roll out Zack Damon, Ben Desmaris, Ethan Abitz, Cody Hautenen and Taylor Seppala.
“We have some difficult opposition,” Conant Coach Rick Simoneau said, “but if we can slide into the top three, that would be a nine finish.”
Simoneau, who’s helped the Orioles reach the tourney in each of the past five years, said he knows what he’s getting with Seppala and Miller. And while they’ve gotten much better since the season began, the rest are wild cards.
“It’ll all be how the third and fourth (players) react to the 18 holes and the pressure,” Simoneau said.
Miller, who described his game as consistent with a hot-and-cold putter, finished third overall at last year’s individual championship. After shooting 38 on the front nine Tuesday at Newport and 46 on the back, he’s aiming to finish in the top 24 again Thursday to qualify for Saturday’s individual tourney.
And while he plans to major in sports management with a concentration in professional golf management so he can maybe oversee a course of his own one day, he’s not ready to put a bow on his high school career just yet.
Though a state title, whether it be team or individual, would be a pretty sweet way to go out.
“That would be awesome,” Miller said. “I would be really happy. It’s always about the team first, but then, after that team day’s done, you want to put in your best score.
“Kind of bear down, do the best you can, try to hit the fairways and hit the greens and make your putts.”
Monadnock Regional didn’t qualify for Thursday’s team tournament, but Paul Lucas and Nick Skrocki will play as individuals. ... Bow (21-2) and Mascenic (21-2), last year’s defending Division III champ, are seeded second and third, respectively. ... Conant, which has never won a state golf title, finished third last year.