Barnegat Golf Squads in Rebuilding Mode
With only one regular-season match and a couple of tournaments in the books so far this spring, it’s difficult for Barnegat boys golf coach Rick Blasi to assess how good his squad may be later in the season. But there was one thing of which he was certain following the Ocean County Tournament on April 17.
“This season is going to be a building process for most of our guys,” Blasi said after his Bengals shot 463 as a team at Sea Oaks Country Club in Little Egg Harbor. “We have some solid kids and they’re progressing nicely so far. Now we just need to see some consistency.”
Following a 174-200 loss to Lacey on April 4 and firing a team score of 406 during the Wildcat Invitational, also at Sea Oaks, on April 7, the Bengals had a light spring break before taking on the county’s best. In the OCT, the Bengals were led my junior Maxwell Lares’ 108 from the No. 1 position, while sophomore Kyle Smith and junior Garrett Majewski shot 116 and 117, respectively, and junior Sam Gotteman ended up with a 122.
Now, with the two early tournaments out of the way, Barnegat can concentrate on individual and team improvement during its regular season. And in doing so, Blasi is optimistic that many of his team’s players will tweak their games and become more consistent.
Lares is expected to be the leader on most days, while seniors Grant DiGrazio, who didn’t compete in the OCT, and Mike Barbagallo, who played in the No. 2 position for the OCT and shot a 125, are expected to help lead the way for the Bengals.
“Max has been consistent so far, but when he really hits his stride we’re hoping he’ll be scoring in the low 40s,” Blasi said. “Mike and Grant are our only seniors, but we’re expecting them to be leaders as we continue to build.”
Sophomore Jerry Neaves, who also missed the OCT, and Majewski are the likely go-to guys for the fourth and fifth positions as the regular season rolls on, while Gotteman and Smith will be asked to help fill in the gaps when necessary. The rest of the squad includes juniors Matthew Zielinski and Kaszimir Herbert, sophomores Nick Spitz and James Davenport, and freshmen Jacob Coupe, Adam DeNichilo, Grady Edwards and Peter Toth.
“Garrett was a junior varsity player last year and has progressed very well, and if he can shave a stroke or two a week, that will help us tremendously,” Blasi said. “Jerry has worked really hard during the offseason, so he also has the potential to shoot well for us. The important thing for our players is to just keep improving and becoming consistent with their games.”
Against Lacey on April 4, DiGrazio led the Bengals with a 47, followed by Barbagallo with a 49, Neaves with a 50 and Smith with a 54.
As for the Barnegat girls golf team, things got off to a slow start for the rebuilding Bengals, who have just two returning players from a year ago: senior Grace Rochette and sophomore Pimpakan Lertburanakan.
“We lost three key players from last year’s 9-8 team, so this is a rebuilding season for us,” said coach Sue Rogers. “The team is improving each day and they are looking forward to learning the game.”
The Bengals started off 0-3 following a tri-match on April 4, which included a 183-254 loss to Holmdel, a 215-254 loss to Wall and a 211-254 loss to Marlboro. Prior to spring break, Barnegat lost a couple of regular-season contests to bad weather, and on April 17 returned to action with the Ocean County Tournament at Eagle Ridge in Lakewood, where Rochette tied for 15th with a 112.
The rest of Rogers’ squad includes junior Katie Rydarowski and freshmen Madison Linton, Donna Zhang, Jasmine Reid and Makayla Adams.
— David Biggy