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Old Bridge takes top seed in GMC boys’ golf tournament

By Warren Rappleyea

Old Bridge High School’s boys’ golf team roared through the regular season for a 16-1 mark and won the Greater Middlesex Conference’s (GMC) Red Division championship.

The Knights’ strong campaign also earned the team the top seed in the GMC Tournament. Old Bridge is one of eight teams that will play May 18 in the tournament finals at Forsgate Country Club in Monroe.

Old Bridge also qualified for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Central/South Jersey, Group IV tournament, which was scheduled for May 15 at the Linwood Country Club.

During the regular season, the Knights won big road matches at Forsgate against Monroe Township High School, 170-171, and at the Concordia Golf Club over South Brunswick High School, 164-167. Old Bridge’s lone loss came against East Brunswick High School, but the Knights easily bested the Bears in a rematch at the Glenwood Country Club. East Brunswick dropped two other divisional matches — to Saint Joseph High School of Metuchen and Monroe — enabling Old Bridge to win the division.

“We had five kids coming back with experience that was a big help,” Old Bridge coach Nick Renzi said. “Then we added two walk-ons to the mix, and everything kind of jelled from there. Still, it was tough early on with all the bad weather. We had several postponements and because of that, we had to play through the spring break.”

Walk-on Stephen Sul quickly established himself as a strong all-around golfer. The sophomore averaged 1.3 over par — tops in the GMC and more than a full stroke in front of East Brunswick’s talented Brandon Wei, who averaged 2.4 over par. Sul is best with his wedges and putter and also drives the ball well. Sul shot a 73 at the Metuchen Golf and Country Club to win the Sayreville Bombers Tee Off Classic in April.

“Stephen has a lot of command; he pretty much knows where the ball is going,” Renzi said. “He can really go up and down the course. If he misses the green, he’ll find a way to get there. Stephen’s consistency also took a lot of pressure off the rest of the team. They could go out and play their games and not worry about pressing.”

Junior Roshan Seth increased the accuracy and distance on his drives this year and, as a result, averaged 6.7 strokes over par — a three-stroke improvement from 2016. Senior Griffin Macaulay, another walk-on who transferred from the United Kingdom, was right behind at 7 over par. Renzi named the tenacious Macaulay, who hails from South Africa, captain for his ability to keep his teammates focused.

Jack Morris used his power off the tee to average 7.6 over par. The senior can really get into the ball. Renzi said that Morris can reach the green on Glenwood’s formidable 540-yard ninth hole in two shots. Junior Peter Mattson and sophomores Luke Anthony and Aidan O’Donnell all saw some playing time for the Knights — and each averaged about eight strokes over par.

During the winter months, Renzi had his team hit the weight room as a team for the first time. The dividends went beyond the obvious.

“I do think the weight training helped, but the camaraderie it developed was what really made this a close team,” the coach said. “Intangibles mean a lot, and the way our guys work together and help each other was a big part of the team’s success.”

Renzi ended the season with 249 career wins at the Old Bridge helm and for the second straight year, his fellow GMC coaches voted the Knights’ mentor “GMC Coach of the Year.”

“It’s an honor,” said Renzi, who will enter his 23rd season as head coach next spring. “But it’s the players, not the coach, who win the matches.”

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