Grizzlies Feel Happy to be Hitting the Links
Junior Miguel Pearce turned in the low score for the Guilford boys’ golf squad in all three of the team’s matches last week. As a team, the Grizzlies posted their best score of the year with a 173 in last week’s contest against Shelton. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)
Peter Keanna is leading the Grizzlies on the links as the team’s lone senior captain in the 2021 spring season. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)
Sophomore Leo Hergan and his fellow members of the Guilford boys’ golf team are happy to be on the course this year after seeing the 2020 season get canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)
Senior Shane Markle and the Grizzlies have been posting better scores as their season has unfolded, including their two lowest totals of the year in last week’s action. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)
The Guilford boys’ golf team features plenty of new faces on the course after missing last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that’s not stopping Head Coach Dave Esteban’s squad from striving for success in 2021.
Guilford has a record of 2-4 this spring and is seeing its scores improve with every outing. Through their first four matches, the Grizzlies’ best team score was a 182 against Cheshire on April 20. Last week, Guilford turned in its lowest total of the year with a 173 versus Shelton on April 28, followed by a 174 in a meet with Fairfield Prep the following day.
“For a bunch of guys that are new to the sport at the varsity level, I’m really happy with our development and how we’re doing,” Coach Esteban said. “The kids are trying to learn how to play competitive golf with strangers. They’re dealing with the mental aspect of the game, and I think they’ve done a really nice job.”
Guilford opened last week by posting a 187-217 home victory over Hamden at Madison Country Club on April 26. Two days later, the Grizzlies put forth their best score of the season in a 152-173 road loss to Shelton at Brownson Country Club. Then on April 29, Guilford hosted Fairfield Prep and lost by a 152-174 final.
Junior Miguel Pearce finished with the Grizzlies’ low score in their meets against Hamden and Shelton, shooting rounds of 41 and 42, respectively. Pearce followed with a low total of 39 when Guilford faced Fairfield Prep. Sophomore Leo Hergan (41), senior captain Peter Keanna (45), and senior Shane Markle (48) rounded out the scoring for Coach Esteban’s club in that match.
“We’ve been shuffling a lot of people out of that No. 1 spot. Senior Shane Markle has been one of our most consistent scorers, so he’s seen a lot of time at No. 1,” said Esteban. “As far as most consistent scorer goes, that has been Miguel Pearce. He’s averaging a 42 for the season, and he’s very strong in terms of his ball striking. But he’s a guy that doesn’t complain at all. He doesn’t care what spot he plays at in the lineup, as long as he’s contributing to the team.”
After seeing Guilford record two scores in the 170s last week, Coach Esteban feels that the Grizzlies are turning the corner this season. Esteban believes that his golfers are gaining more and more confidence with each and every match.
“The weather was nasty against Hamden. That was a really tough day to play golf, but we grinded it out and came out with the victory,” Esteban said. “Against Shelton and Prep, I feel like we played up to the competition. A lot of these guys haven’t really played in many varsity matches, so getting that experience early on in the season has made them feel more comfortable at this point in time.”
Coach Esteban said that getting through the first few weeks of the season was a struggle, because players and coaches alike were worried about coming in contact with the COVID-19 virus. While Guilford isn’t playing quite as many matches as it typically would, Esteban’s squad feels grateful for every second that it gets to spend on the greens.
“The start to our season was delayed. The whole season was shortened. Typically, we would play 16 matches, but we’re down to 13. We’re not going to complain, because we have a season,” said Esteban. “In the beginning, it was hard to get through the process of tryouts. We had just come out of a 10-day distance learning thing at the school. There were a lot of concerns about keeping the kids separated, but together. We managed to make it work, and we are thankful to be playing right now. We just want to stay healthy for the rest of the year.”
In addition to Keanna and Markle, Guilford’s senior class also features Andrew Ciocca, Collin Lee, Shane Thibault, and Eve Young. Owen Angkatavanich joins Pearce in the Grizzlies’ junior class. Along with Hergan, the team’s sophomore corps includes Leo Farrcielli and Shivai Kumar.
“This is a great group of kids overall,” Coach Esteban said. “They haven’t given the coaching staff any issues, and they are really taking the COVID-19 safety guidelines seriously, because they want to be on the course. We are wearing our masks, and we are socially distancing. As long as we continue to do that, I’m hopeful that we can have a successful rest of our season.”