At 9 a.m. Eastern, the NHIAA Division III boys golf state tournament tees off at Laconia Country Club.
In the field will be golfers from Monadnock, Fall Mountain, Conant and ConVal high schools, highlighted by Fall Mountains’ Mitchell Cormier, the reigning state champion, who is looking to repeat this year.
Monadnock is the only school that will be competing in the team tournament, while Fall Mountain, Conant and ConVal will send individuals to Laconia in hopes of qualifying for Day 2 on Saturday.
The top 20 individuals on Thursday will advance to Saturday.
Cormier has been the Wildcats’ clear No. 1 all year, and is in good shape to end another successful golf season on a high note.
“Mitchell’s goal was to win again,” said Fall Mountain head coach Jason Lintner. “He’s so smart when it comes to golf. He’s a great golfer and it shows.”
The Wildcats’ No. 2 was Cameron Fry, who will also be competing Thursday with a chance to earn a spot in the second round of the tournament on Saturday.
Fall Mountain finished 14th in Division III as a team, not qualifying for the team tournament, but Cormier and Fry will have a chance to compete for the individual state title.
“It’ll be fun to watch, that’s for sure,” Lintner said. “I love watching them play. It’s just fun to go out there and watch them hit good shots. Even when they’re struggling, it’s fun to see how they get out of different situations.
Monadnock finished ninth in Division III as a team, good enough to compete for the team title.
Gabe Hill led the way for the Huskies for much of the year and looks to continue his success on the big stage.
Anthony Poanessa spent the year as Monadnock’s No. 2, but will likely have to sit out this year’s tournament because of injury.
Alden Gibson and Cam Olivio will also be competing for the Huskies.
“We have a competitive group of kids with great enthusiasm,” said Monadnock head coach Rich Tasho, while watching his team play at Bretwood Monday evening. “We have a good core. These kids aren’t afraid of a challenge.”
This is the first Monadnock team to play for a state title in quite some time, Tasho said, and it’s a young group, with all but one guy coming back next year.
“They’re psyched to go up as a team,” Tasho said. “The program is solid. Happy to be a part of it.
“I’m happy for them,” Tasho added. “They’ve worked very hard. I’m excited for them. It should be a great day of golf for Monadnock.”
Hill is currently ranked as the No. 15 individual in DIII, Tasho said.
Like Fall Mountain and ConVal, Conant missed the cut as a team but will send Jordan Ketola and Marcus Somero up to Laconia to play for a top-20 spot and move on to Saturday.
Ketola has led the Orioles this season and head coach Brandon Kear believes he can compete, as long as he brings his A-game Tuesday.
“His game is solid all-around, it’s just about putting it all together,” Kear said.
Kear has been impressed with Somero down the stretch, touting his consistency on the course.
“Marcus has been playing solid golf,” Kear said. “His game has settled in and has been consistent.
“As long as they show up, they’ll be all good,” Kear added about his two golfers. “They’ve put in the work.”
ConVal finished 16th in the Division III standings and will be sending Wyatt Burbank as a representative in Laconia.
Burbank averaged a score of about 40 this season, said ConVal head coach Mike Young, earning a top-three individual finish in most of the matches he played.
“Wyatt is a good golfer,” Young said. “I think he’ll do well.”
The only thing that might trip him up, Young said, is that Burbank has not yet played the course at Laconia Country Club.
“Whenever a golfer plays a course for the first time, it’s always a challenge,” Young said. “It’s an unknown. You just never know.”
Young feels confident his golfer can finish in the top 20 and qualify for Saturday.
But it’s golf, so you never really know.
“It’s a four-letter word for a reason,” Young joked. “It’s a tough sport but I know he’s excited to play.”
Burbank is familiar with his competition, which Young believes can be an advantage. He’s played against Cormier and Pelham’s Russ Hamel this season, who Young believes will both be competing for the state title.
“[Burbank] knows what he’s up against,” Young said.
NHIAA.org will have updates from the tournament under the “Tournament Info” tab.
The Sentinel will provide results in Wednesday’s print edition, as well as online at Sentinelsource.com.