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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, October 22, 2009
Bulldog golf drives far past expectations
By Jordan J. Michael
BERNE Head Coach Don Dennis thought his Berne-Knox-Westerlo golf team would have a decent season, but a 16-0 finish was a little unexpected.
“What a terrific year from all my golfers,” said Dennis on Friday, who founded the BKW team in 1985. “We had expected to do well, but we didn’t shoot to be undefeated. The players were on a roll since day one.”
The team won a Western Athletic Conference championship and placed third in the Class C-D sectionals on Oct. 7 at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. It was the highest the Bulldogs had ever placed in sectionals.
“You can’t really say that this school is known for golfing opportunities,” Dennis said. “There isn’t anywhere to golf around here. This program has fought for its success.”
BKW used to play its home matches in Cobleskill, but now plays at Sycamore Golf Course in Ravena. Dennis had an artificial golf green put in behind the school and Ironworks Golf Course in Duanesburg lends its facilities to the Bulldog golfers.
“I think we might be the only school in the area with a golf green in our backyard,” said Dennis. “The green helps, but I credit a lot to Ironworks because that’s where my guys can practice and not be intimidated. That place welcomes us with open arms and I couldn’t thank them enough.”
Dennis had 12 players on the varsity roster, the most ever, and 26 to 30 more kids from grades seven to 12 working at a lower level with assistant coach and Athletic Director Fred Marcil.
“We have so many kids interested in golf for such a small school,” Dennis said. “We don’t like to cut anybody and I’m glad to have Marcil for the help. Some schools can’t even field five guys on varsity, but we have people waiting in line.”
Meet the players
Seniors Paolo Audino, Josh Rebeor, and Sean Flanagan racked up a 63-8 combined record since freshman year and have 27 straight wins. That also includes two first-place finishes, a second, and a third at the last four WAC tournaments.
The Bulldogs were going for a three-peat at the WAC tournament this season, but came in third behind Spa Catholic and Schoharie. The event was held at Hales Mills in Mayfield on Sept. 24.
“There was a lot of pressure on the team and they tried very hard to win,” said Dennis. “Everyone was out to beat us and we folded in the end. It’s OK, though, because we still won the league title.”
That makes two straight WAC championships for a BKW team that only seems to be heading uphill. The team was 16-1 in 2008.
“This team kept their cool and helped each other out,” Dennis said. “We enjoyed golf and enjoyed each other.”
Audino was the top golfer for the Bulldogs and he won co-MVP of the Western Athletic Conference. He had a scoring average of 40 and has been with the team since he was a seventh-grader.
“Audino emerged out of the three seniors and he was clearly the number-one all along,” said Dennis. “He’s worked really hard and golf is a tough sport.”
Audino missed the State Qualifiers by four shots and his low round on the year was a 36.
“I always looked ahead and up to the older players,” said Audino, who also plays basketball and baseball for BKW. “Maturity has a lot to do with success in golf or any sport for that matter. Even though I was the number one, it was a team effort to go undefeated. Our lower seeded guys picked up the slack and got us wins when we needed them.”
Rebeor had a stroke average of 45 and a low of 39. Dennis told The Enterprise that Rebeor was the “jokester” of the team and that he kept everyone loose.
“We had a nice mix of kids,” said Dennis. “All fun and no problems.”
Flanagan was another sixth-year golfer and rounded out the third spot for the team. He had a scoring average of 45 and a low round of 40. “He has a beautiful swing and had some big points,” Dennis said. “He wanted to do better, but golf is frustrating sometimes.”
Junior Ethan Sharp was the number four and Dennis believes that he was the best number-four golfer in the league. Sharp never lost a single point all year long, going 32-0 in 16 rounds.
“No spot is secure, but I’m counting on Sharp to be the top guy next year,” Dennis said. “He really heated up towards the end and he definitely could have been a higher seed, but he was good there.”
Matt Cusullo was “Mr. Clutch” for the team, according to Coach Dennis. “We had a close match against Middleburgh and Schoharie and he told me that he would win with two holes left and he did,” said Dennis. “He gave us that win.”
The sixth and final starter was junior Joe Kalina and Dennis named him Rookie of the Year. Kalina had been golfing for a while, but never knew BKW had a team.
“He is a real studious kid and he had no idea there was a golf team,” Dennis said. “I’m glad someone tipped him off because he played some good golf for us.”
The varsity team was rounded out by a freshman class of Kyle Gibbs, Anthony Pasquini, Zach Rebeor, Connor McDermott, Hunter Fortuin, and eighth-grader Corey DePeaux.
“We all grew up together in this small town and the brotherhood makes for a cohesive group,” said Audino. “If one of us isn’t playing well, then we don’t have to worry because there is always another teammate to save us.”
Even though the game of golf can be frustrating, Coach Dennis keeps things positive and knows a lot about the game after coaching for more than 25 years.
“I think this team did so well because they were all committed and they never made excuses,” said Dennis. “I’ve had great teams in the past, but I’ve never enjoyed it so much. And I think my players enjoyed it even more.”