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Kroes, Bombers separate from field

May 26, 2017
By LOU REUTER - Senior Sports Writer ( , Lake Placid News

PLATTSBURGH - The undefeated Lake Placid golf team had no problem taking care of business and its top player paved the way.

On Thursday in the Section VII championships at the Barracks Golf Course in Plattsburgh, the Blue Bombers cruised to the team title, while Bjorn Kroes put himself firmly in control for an individual crown after firing a 4-under-par 68 to lead by five strokes.

Less than a week ago, Lake Placid finished unbeaten in the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference with a 10-0 mark while running its regular season winning streak to 40 matches. And on the opening day of the Section VII tournament, the Blue Bombers left no doubt that they were many notches above the rest of the field as they earned their second team title in the past three seasons.

Article Photos

The Lake Placid Blue Bombers celebrate their Section VII team title Thursday at the Barracks Golf Course in Plattsburgh. From the left are coach John Glinski, Lars Kroes, Kevin Geesler, Sean Moore, Bjorn Kroes, Drew Maiorca and Ryan Kane.

(News photo — Lou Reuter)

In the team competition, the lowest four scores from six players representing each squad are added up. Lake Placid finished with a 310 total, which was 39 strokes ahead of second-place Moriah. All six of Lake Placid's golfers survived the cut of 96 to move into today's second round, where the individual champion and the nine players representing Section VII in the state championships at Cornell will be determined.

"A 310, that's impressive," Lake Placid coach John Glinski said. "I think years ago, Saranac Lake had a 306 at Westport, but they had three kids in the 70s. I'm proud. How can you not be? I'm thrilled with these kids. The goal now is to try to get as many kids to the states as we can."

Blue Bombers junior Drew Maiorca sits in second place after shooting a 1-over par 73. Two Moriah golfers are next in the standings, with last year's defending champion Joey Stahl in third with a 75 and Kyle Wilson fourth with a 77. Willsboro's Paul Fine-Lease rounds out the top-five with an 80.

Ryan Kane, Sean Moore and Lars Kroes all shot rounds in the 80s for Lake Placid to stay in the hunt for a berth on the state team. Kane leads the list with an 84, Moore finished at 85 and Lars Kroes came in with an 88.

Kevin Geesler, one of four Blue Bombers seniors, finished with a 94 to advance.

Bjorn Kroes, who finished runner-up in the tournament a year ago after falling in a playoff, put together a five-hole run on Thursday that was nothing short of amazing. He headed into the eighth hole at 2-under par and finished the front nine even with birdies on the final two holes. The senior then sank a 15-foot putt to eagle the 10th, drained about a 25-footer for a birdie on the 11th, and then stuck his tee shot on the par-3, 165-yard 12th hole within three feet and rolled that putt in to move to four-under par. From there, Kroes remained steady playing in the first foursome of the day.

"Six under through five holes - the putter just lit up," said Kroes, who has been Section VII's runner-up the past two years. "I definitely had some nerves on the first hole, but I made a nice birdie putt on one to get things started. I was a little out of my rhythm, but by the fifth hole, I started to get it back again. My swing came together and I made some putts. I like these greens a lot. They're smooth. I'm pretty impressed with them.

Kroes, who will attend Cornell University in the fall, is making a bid for his fourth appearance in the state championships held on that's school's course. With Thursday's round, he's almost assured that will happen, and if he plays just as well today, he's likely to add an individual title to a host of championships he's won during a high school career playing on a strong Blue Bombers team.

"We lost last year and we were undefeated during the regular season, and that was bitter," said Kroes after he was one of the first golfers to wrap up the opening round. "If we pull this off it will be a pretty fun way for our four seniors to finish. The real goal of sectionals is to get to states, so you just want to play two solid rounds, and obviously it's nice to play well to try to win sectionals, but especially today being a team event, you have to play consistent and smart. You can't be too aggressive.

" I was just trying to play a good round of golf and try to enjoy it too," he added. "In the past, I've gotten a little nervous. With this being my last year, I just want to have fun. Don't get negative. That just ruins the game. I had a lot of fun today. When you're making putts like that it's a lot of fun."

Maiorca, a junior, earned his first team championship and is now looking to earn his second trip to the state championship. He credited Lake Placid teammates for part of his success in elevating his game during the past few years.

"When Sean and Kevin joined the team last year, they helped us out tremendously," Maiorca said. "I came on the team in seventh grade, and Bjorn and Ryan, ever since then, I've been looking up to them and just watching how they play, and saying 'I'd love to be that good.' I've practiced really hard and I've gotten there. I've gotten my game as good as I can, and every single day, I'm working to improve it.

"I didn't make the top six until my sophomore year," Maiorca added. "I looked at it as something fun to do in the spring, but when I realized I had a natural ability and a good swing, I really honed in playing golf. Between ninth and 10th grade, that's when it hit me."

Peru finished third in the team scoring with 362, and Saranac Lake, last year's team champion, placed fourth with a 373 total. Thursday's field included 10 full teams of six players, as well as four more schools that were represented but didn't have full squads.

Three Red Storm golfers - Tanner Courcelle, Kyler Darrah and Ray Amell - advanced into today's round. Courcelle, the senior leader of Saranac Lake, finished with an 85 and is tied with two other golfers in ninth place. Darrah came in with a 91 and Amell finished with a 96.

Courcelle has finished 10th twice in his bid to make the state team in previous Section VII championships, which gave him an alternate spot, and he would like nothing more than ending his high school career playing at Cornell.

"I definitely didn't play as well as I wanted too," Courcelle said. "Nothing went my way out there, I wasn't striking well at all. I feel alright where I am, especially since I was really nervous. Hopefully I can go out tomorrow and do a little better. If I play this way again, it might be good enough, but I need to shoot better. I want to go lower."



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