Hoosac Valley Golfers Repeat as Western Mass Champions
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- It was deja vu for Hoosac Valley on Tuesday afternoon.
For the second straight year, Henry Sniezek closed his round with a birdie on the final hole of the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Championships.
For the second straight year, his performance led the Hurricanes to the top of the leaderboard and a berth in the state championship.
The one difference: This time around, Sniezek finished with a 79 at the Country Club of Pittsfield, giving him second place in the individual standings behind Southwick’s Matthew Garrity, who finished with a 7-over-par 78.
But even there, there was symmetry. Last year at Ludlow Country Club, it was Sniezek with the 78 and Garrity with the 79.
Garrity and the Rams will be back in the Berkshires next week to join Hoosac Valley in taking on the best teams in the commonwealth at the Division 2 State Championships at Taconic Golf Club. They will be joined by one Berkshire County foe playing as an individual; Wahconah’s Dan Wilson qualified by carding an 84 to tie for sixth place.
For the second year in a row, the Hurricanes will be the standard-bearer for the section.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself this year because I won it last year and we won it as a team,” Sniezek said. “I knew we had a chance to do it as a team again. Everyone at school was telling us, ‘Oh, you gotta repeat this year.’
“I put a lot of pressure on myself, but it worked out well.”
Sniezek’s father and coach, Jay Sniezek, said that the Hurricanes did not really talk about the idea of repeating until the post-season rolled around. But he could not deny that the idea was out there, and he knew better than anyone what kind of pressure Henry was facing.
“On the way down here, it was weird driving down just me and him, and I was trying to keep him calm,” Jay Sniezek said. “I knew he was nervous, and I think there’s a lot of pressure on because he won it last year, individually. I think he really felt the weight on his shoulders. I said, ‘Just go out there and play your game. Take it hole by hole. Don’t worry about the guy who’s with you. He may shoot better. Just chug along and do your own thing. It’s a team thing. It’s not individual.”
Garrity, the only player who shot better than Sniezek on Tuesday, actually was playing one group behind, in the foursome that teed off on No. 2, along with Wilson.
Sniezek’s quartet had the honor of being the only one to tee off on the first hole in the shotgun start.
That meant it was the only group that got to finish in front of the porch, which was well populated by players who already completed their rounds by the time Sniezek stood over his 20-foot birdie putt.
“Kind of,” Henry Sniezek said when asked if finishing in front of a large gallery added to the pressure of the moment. “But at our home course [Forest Park Country Club], we generally have a lot of people watching us finish.
“And it’s a pretty easy hole. I knew I could par it, and that’s really all I wanted to do. The birdie helped out, though.”
It was his only birdie of the day and helped bolster a team score of 341 that gave the Hurricanes a three-stroke margin over runner-up Southwick.
Scoring along with Sniezek were Corben Craig (86), Colby Rougeau (86) and Luc Trombley (90).
Ten teams took on the South Street layout on Tuesday morning, including two other Berkshire County squads.
Wahconah finished sixth behind Wilson’s 84. He was joined in the scoring column by teammates Pat McLaughlin (86), Caden Frazier (94) and Mike Cullett (101).
Mount Greylock was right behind in seventh place. Ben Prescott led the Mounties with an 88, followed by Brayden Smith (92), Xander Axt (93) and Owen Petropulos (97).
Wahconah coach Pete Terpak said he was happy with the way his young squad performed on Tuesday and happier still that one of them will get to extend his season one more week.
“[Wilson] played pretty steady,” Terpak said. “I saw Dan pass by us, and he hit it down the middle. It was pretty good today. I’m very happy he can go up to Taconic. Taconic is where I played my high school stuff, and it’s the best in the county. We’re going to enjoy going up there with him and getting the experience because he’s a junior, he’s going to be taking over our team as captain.
“Our young people are going to grow from this: Pat McLaughlin and Kristina [Cusson] and Dan -- the pillars going forward next year. It’s important.”
Thanks to the rotation of state tournaments that sends the D2 championships to the West Section this year, Hoosac Valley will get the rare experience of competing for a state title close to home.
“Being local at Taconic, it kind of helps being here even though most of the kids don’t ever get to play there,” Jay Sniezek said. “Henry does because he’s a junior member, but he doesn’t play that often. But I think being local helps, being close by. Last year, we went all the way down to Marshfield, and it was tough going down there.”
1. Hoosac Valley (Henry Sniezek 79, Corben Craig 86, Colby Rougeau 86, Luc Trombley 90, Justin Cowell 97, Zachary Swistak 103), 341
2. Southwick 344
3. Pope Francis 349
4. Frontier 352
5. South Hadley 359
6. Wahconah 365 (Dan Wilson 84, Pat McLaughlin 86, Caden Frazier 94, Mike Cullett 101, Kristina Cusson 112, Emily Figiela 113), 365
7. Mount Greylock 370 (Ben Prescott 88, Brayden Smith 92, Xander Axt 93, Owen Petropulos 97, Paul Roeder 99, Cayden Conry 107), 370
8. Palmer 371
9. Greenfield 395
10. Easthampton 410