By Jimmy Allinder
The East Brunswick High School boys’ golf team was 12-2 overall and in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Red Division when it faced Monroe Township High School (9-3 overall, 8-3 division) May 8.
Even if the Bears prevailed, however, the championship would go to Old Bridge High School (14-3 overall, 13-1 division) if the Knights defeated Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen (10-3 overall and division) the same day.
While the division title may be out of reach, the Bears should never be discounted as a serious contender to win the conference tournament May 18 at Forsgate Country Club in Monroe. East Brunswick also hopes to qualify for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) championship finals at the sectional tournament May 15 at Linwood Country Club. The first- and second-place finishers move on to the finals.
“I think the GMCs will come down to Old Bridge, Monroe, Colonia [High School] and us, with Old Bridge the slight favorite based on stroke average,” coach Bo Henning said. “Old Bridge also has the player who appears to be the best in the conference, [sophomore Steven Sul]. As far as the state sectionals, the goal of course is to place first or second.”
Henning believes 12 to 15 teams have a legitimate chance of qualifying and that it always gets down to how well teams play on that particular day.
As for his team, he has been pleasantly surprised with its performance, given the lineup features a number of young players.
“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting any freshman to contribute, but when they were called on, Justin Yu (+9.5) and Steven Kim have played well,” he said. “Our top player for stroke average, [junior] Brandon Wei (+3), was injured early in the season, but he has worked himself back into form. He’s a definite threat to win an individual GMC and/or state title.”
Seniors Jeremy Steenvoorden (+8.4), Chris Ng (+9.6), Kevin Cosio (+13.4) and Jason Minikel (+15.1) have also contributed, as have junior Jon Jackson (+13) and sophomore Eegan McDermott (+6.1).
Monroe, currently among the Red Division’s top four teams, will also shift its focus to the GMC Tournament and state sectionals. The challenge for Monroe is scoring well enough to win the team title despite a lack of depth.
The Falcons have been led by senior Rob Cocorikis (+4.1), freshman Tanay Mandala (+7.9) and sophomore Adithya Palekar (+8.7).
“We’d like to be able to win the GMCs and finish in the top 10 at the state sectional,” Monroe head coach Dennis Kelleher said.