By Jimmy Allinder
Relative to size of the rest of the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) schools that field golf teams, Metuchen High School has been a perennial over-achiever.
This season is no exception. If the boys’ team defeated Timothy Christian School May 8, it would be the sixth time in eight years the Bulldogs won the Blue Division championship. The girls’ team has achieved a 5-1 record in only its fourth year of existence.
Rich Stoner, who coaches both teams, has nothing but glowing comments about what each has achieved and what he would like to see as the season soon shifts to postseason tournaments.
“There are so many really good [boys’] teams in the GMC, and it would be a nice accomplishment if we make the tournament finals,” Stoner said. “The state [tournament] represents another opportunity but again, we’ll be going against quality opponents from all over New Jersey. We’re just looking to improve over last year and hopefully land in a good spot.”
The boys are led by senior Colin Gaven (+5.4*), juniors Tom Resko (+7.8), Spencer Peyrot (+9), Jack Bradley (+10.5) and Cory Williams (+11.6) and freshman Chuck Bradley (+11.4).
Stoner says the girls’ team has a legitimate chance to overtake larger, more established schools like East Brunswick High School and John P. Stevens High School for the GMC Tournament title if it can “put it all together.”
“We’re still in the development stages of the program, but we’ve made great strides,” he said. “It would be great if our seniors can put on their résumés they went out as champions. I’m really proud of our seniors for how they’ve stuck with this. Some started playing in eighth grade, and it’s been fun watching them grow.”
The girls’ team defeated Old Bridge High School May 4 to qualify for the state team tournament for the third consecutive year. The lineup includes seniors Morgan Switzer (+9), Siya Zhang (+12), Haley Nugent (+13) and Julianna Iacona (+16); juniors Katie Nugent (+8), Nina Chung (+15) and Allison Carr (+16); sophomore Jenna DeVito (+15); and freshman Hannah Small (+20).
Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen is 10-3 overall and while that is impressive, the Falcons are one of many quality GMC teams.
“We have matches coming up against teams with excellent depth, which is something we lack,” coach Ryan Lechner said. “We really have one golfer who’s among the better competitors in the GMC, [sophomore T.J. Terpanick (+5.1)]. His average is slightly higher than last year, but his overall game has improved.
“We’re young and at this point, our focus needs to be on gaining experience rather than worrying about how we finish in tournaments. I’ve stressed to the guys they need to play within their capabilities and let the more talented golfers beat our scores. The states are particularly challenging because we compete in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public section against some powerhouse teams like Christian Brothers Academy. It will be a good experience, and I think if T.J. can find his groove, he stands a chance to qualify as an individual.”
John P. Stevens
The J.P. Stevens boys’ team is 6-10 as the regular season draws to a close, but the record is deceptive. The Hawks are 1-4 in single-digit outcomes, an indication the Hawks have been competitive in most matches.
The seven golfers who have been regulars in the lineup are seniors Thomas Hsu (+15.5) and David Szeto (+18.2) and juniors Justin Liang (+12.3, a two-shot improvement), Kunal Kanwar (+12.8, a seven-shot improvement), Andrew Liu (+13.2, four-shot improvement), Anish Chouthai (+16.4) and Larry Xing (+17.9).
Nicklaus enjoying time as grandfather
The legendary Jack Nicklaus has not played a competitive round of golf since 2005 when he concluded his illustrious career at the British Open. However, he remains an iconic figure on the golf scene with has familiar Golden Bear brand and makes occasional appearances at PGA tournaments.
At the age of 77, much of his life is consumed with spending time with his 22 grandchildren. Nicklaus recently reflected on how much he relishes this period of his life.
“Those things, I really get a kick out of,” Nicklaus said before he teamed with other legendary golfers, Gary Player and Lee Trevino, in a friendly 18-hole competition at the Insperity Invitational in The Woodlands, Texas. “It’s fun to do things and watch them do things. I watched my kids, but my grandkids are a little different. Your kids are your kids — you’re trying to raise them — but I’m not raising them. That’s their parents’ job.
“I’ve learned the best thing you can do when you’re around the grandkids is keep your mouth shut. I’m enjoying this. Tomorrow, I’m going fishing.”
*stroke average over nine holes