ORONO, Maine — Husson University’s golf team has been so deep and talented this season that most of the com-petition for the first (green) team has come from the second (white) squad.
That was again the case after Sunday’s first round of the Husson College Invitational, when the green team led the white squad by four strokes and everyone else by at least 12.
On a crisp, sunny Monday at Penobscot Valley Country Club, it wasn’t even close between the Eagles’ intra-squad rivals as the unbeaten green team blew away the rest of the field en route to a 36-hole total score of 597 and a 35-stroke victory over 2007 defend-ing tourney champ Tufts University (Mass.) in the 10-team, nine-school tournament.
“That competition we have amongst ourselves has really served us quite well,” said Husson head coach Bruce MacGregor. “Our second group was in second place after the first day and they finished third overall in this tournament.”
Husson’s second group did so despite shooting 21 strokes higher than Sunday.
“Honestly, if our five guys play well, we’re going to beat most other teams by 20 shots,” said Mike Hersey, a freshman from Presque Isle who shot 73 Monday and 149 overall. “We can play bad and still beat teams. Not to be arrogant, but some of the best high school golfers not playing D1 [Division 1] come to Husson.”
Husson’s John Ellis, a sophomore from Belfast, won medalist honors for the second time this season with an even-par 72 on Monday and a two-day total of 148.
“Today was good, although I three-putted the last two holes for a 72,” Ellis said.
Ellis led the way for Husson’s first team, which col-lectively shaved 13 strokes from its Sunday total of 305.
“One through five, any one of us can tee it up and win a tournament any day. I think we’ve had three medalists come from our number five spot this year,” Ellis explained. “The fact we’re all so competitive with each other makes us all better. We probably shoot bet-ter scores in practices.”
None of Husson’s five players turned in a score higher than 77. In fact, Ellis wasn’t the only one to shoot par as sophomore Chris Hamel of Waterville also carded a 72.
Hamel is one of five sophomores on a young team that also has three freshmen.
“I think we’ve gained a lot of maturity from last year to this year,” said Hamel, whose two-day score was 149. “Getting through a full year of college helps and knowing what to expect makes all the difference.”
The rest of the scores from Husson’s “starting five” are Kevin Byrne’s 75 (two-day total 153) and Chris Cof-fin’s 77 (153). Byrne is from Winslow and Coffin hails from Presque Isle.
Husson’s second team members are Winslow’s Josh Gallagher (78-155) and Matt Loubier (84-158), Ed Meo (82-160) of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Adam Fournier (86-166) of Old Town.
So far, Hamel has been a medalist four times, Ellis twice, Hersey once, Coffin once, and junior Ben Esta-brook once.
The Eagles’ impressive victory — their eighth in eight tournaments — was even more impressive con-sidering Estabrook of Bangor was laid low by a flu virus.
“After the Colby tournament [Saturday], he started throwing up and was having trouble breathing, so he went home,” MacGregor explained. “He got so bad, they took him right over to the emergency room, where they put him on oxygen and antibiotics.”
Even sick, Estabrook still managed to shoot a 72 and medal at Saturday’s tourney. His status for this week’s North Atlantic Conference tournament is questionable.
“We’re missing one of our better players and we’re still playing very well,” MacGregor said. “That’s obvi-ously a confidence thing as these guys still expect to win, even without him.”
Even MacGregor, now in his 40th season as head coach, has been surprised as his team is off to the best start in the program’s history.
“We’ve had some other strong starts, but this is very good for us,” he said. “The strength of this group is how close to each other they are.
“Looking at the stroke average for our practice and tournament rounds, which is well over 30 this year, our top five guys are all within one stroke of each other and the other five are right behind that.”