A season of progress for Pope John Golf

Sparta. The Pope John boys golf team had a 13-3 overall record, and the girls team posted two victories this year. Next year, further progress is likely for the Lions.

Sparta /
| 22 Jun 2021 | 03:20

Student golfers who competed for the Lions at Pope John XXIII Regional High School showed the willingness and work ethic needed to improve this season.

“Both the boys and girls teams had great senior leadership,’’ said head coach Brian St. John.

Six senior boys and three senior girls deserve a mention, he said: Brett Parker, Ethan Johnson, Nic Colavito, Mike Moschella, Kevin Nolan, Evan Izzo, Teá Magner, Olivia Rispoli, and Eleni Bubalo.

“All were at different stages of their golf careers, from very seasoned to brand new, but all brought their own brand of leadership to the team,” said St. John. “Every underclassman in the program found a player they could look up to in one way or another.’’

The boys team “had our low score of the season against Wallkill Valley at home,’’ St. John said, recalling some of the highlights of the recently concluded season. “We needed every bit of that low (167) to win that match as they are an excellent team. I was particularly proud of the way the guys came off the course that day.”

He said the girls’ first win of the season against Montville was memorable.

“This year was a rebuild for the girls, and we didn’t know if wins were going to be that easy to come by,” St. John said. “When the girls came off the course, they knew it would be very close so when the coaches added everything up and I told them we won, there was definitely a range of emotions, shock, joy.”

A number of golfers exhibited constant improvement.

With 18 players, “we had a small army of boys,” he said. But if he had to single out one player who improved significantly, he said, “it would have to be freshman Vinnie Cataldo.”

“He elevated his game throughout the year and consistently dropped shots,” St. John said. “He was in the varsity lineup the majority of the time by about midway through this shortened season. I imagine if we would have had the ability to play in March as per normal years, he might have been ready by match one. I’m really excited to see what he can do going forward.

“Senior Teá Magner constantly dropped shots for her season low of 58 by the end of the season. Sophomore Luci Wicker also dropped about eight strokes off her average nine hole score by year’s end so it will be interesting to see what type of summer she will have.’’

The Pope John boys golf team had a 13-3 overall record, and the girls team posted two victories this year. Next year, further progress is likely for the Lions.

“Not counting the freshman (boys) players that will come into the program in ‘21-22, we have 12 players that remain with the program,’’ St. John said. “Several of these players — juniors Nico Dupuis, Ryan O’Neil, Charlie Wyckoff and sophomores JJ Kane, Matt Doherty, freshman Vinnie Cataldo — have had scores count in varsity matches. All 12 of these players know there are varsity spots up for grabs so whoever puts in the time over the summer and fall will be in the varsity lineup next season.

For the girls team, he said, “his was definitely a rebuilding year, but I’m excited for many of the newer players entering the program. We have a core to build around — juniors Christine Hruby and Megan Halpin, sophomores Luci Wicker and Norene Williams — and I’m excited to see the type of off season they have to be ready for next year.’’