VASSALBORO, Maine — Maine’s high school golf team state championships are contested by each team’s five top players.
Since only the four best scores are counted, it is sometimes the No. 5 man who makes the difference in the outcome.
Freshman Justin Keaney outdueled his older brother Matt to earn the fifth spot for St. Dominic Academy on Saturday. His career-best round helped put the Saints over the top in Class C.
Justin Keaney shot an 84 to help St. Dominic Academy post a 329 total on the Arrowhead Course at Natanis Golf Course for its third consecutive team state title.
“This is the first time I’ve cried,” said Saints coach Kevin Cullen. “We’ve won five of these in seven years and I didn’t think we could win this year.”
St. Dominic took a one-stroke victory over Class C runner-up Winthrop (330), while Houlton finished third (337) and Wiscasset took fourth (340).
Camden Hills claimed the Class B championship and Falmouth won the Class A crown on a cool, overcast day.
In Class B, there wasn’t a senior on the squad, but that didn’t stop Camden Hills from winning a state championship.
Junior Daulton Wickenden fired an even-par 72 on Natanis’ Tomahawk Course to lead the way for coach Mark Wallace’s Windjammers, who finished at 321.
That gave them a healthy 13-shot advantage over runner-up Cape Elizabeth (334), which nipped Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield on the fifth-man tiebreaker.
Presque Isle wound up fourth at 347.
“It wasn’t necessarily their best game today, but they’ve worked hard on taking the game they showed up with and doing everything they can with it,” Wallace said.
Camden Hills was steady across the board as sophomore Julian Starbird shot an 80, junior Drew Long finished at 81 and Drew Holt tallied an 88. Jared Garske shot a 90.
“Our top six is all pretty solid and everybody has been able to keep good attitudes,” Wickenden said. “The biggest thing is, every shot counts just as much as the others, just focusing on that.”
In Class A, Falmouth had three players shoot in the 70s en route to a 316, the best score of the day regardless of class.
Coach Spike Herrick’s Yachtsmen were seven strokes better than runner-up Bangor (323), while Gorham and Greely of Cumberland Center followed at 324 and 326, respectively.
Again, it was a fifth man who provided his team with a huge lift. Junior Craig Smith led the Yachtsmen with a 77.
“He’s just a skinny, little runt,” Herrick joked, with Smith standing within earshot.
“We have the deepest team that I’ve ever had, by far,” he added. “Five kids qualified for individuals [state championships], that’s never happened before.
Smith had company in the 70s as seniors Joe Lesniak and Brad Gilbert each carded a 78. Senior Matt Hutcheon shot an 83 and classmate Russell Barnard had an 89.
Bangor acquitted itself nicely led by sophomore Drew Powell, who shot a 72 on the Tomahawk Course. Senior Rye Powell and junior Liam Redding each had an 83, senior Reed Brookings shot an 85 and senior Cole Turner had a 92.
“They played good and consistent,” said Rams coach Rob Jarvis. “It looked like we had it.”
Then Smith’s 77 was posted on the scoreboard.
“I don’t want to say you don’t expect that but, typically, out of the fifth player it’s not likely,” Jarvis added.
In Class C, “Little Keaner” picked the perfect time to shoot the best competitive round of his young career.
“Every spot for every match is up for grabs,” said coach Cullen, who has 16 players on his varsity squad. “He earned it.”
Senior Mike Richard set the tone for St. Dominic by firing a 3-over-par 75. Junior Mitch Lorenz and senior Andrew Marcous both came in at 85 and Mike Bryant shot a 96.
Junior Taylor Morang shot the low round of the day with a 2-under 70 to propel Winthrop to a second-place finish.
Other outstanding individual performances came from Luke Ruffing of Maranacook in Readfield (71), Powell (72) and Wickenden (72), Robbie Watson of Fort Fairfield (73), Gavin Dugas of MCI and Nick Audet of Wells (74), Richard and Reese McFarlane of Cape Elizabeth (75), and Brett Braasch of Thornton Academy in Saco (76).
Also in the 70s were Smith (77), Cam Letourneau of Oxford Hills in South Paris, Chase Nelson of Skowhegan, Lesniak and Kenny Tuttle of Gorham (78), Chase Whittemore of Skowhegan, Mac Kim of Oxford Hills, Tony Buchholz and Sam Burgoyne of Greely and Derek Devereaux of Brunswick (79).
The Maine high school individual state championships will be played next Saturday, also at Natanis Golf Course.