Kevin Halpern can now describe himself as "a champion golfer."
The Williamsville North junior took home top honors in the Section VI championships, which were held May 15 at Gowanda Country Club. Halpern defeated East Aurora/Holland's Andrew LaCongo in a playoff.
Both players, in fact, are off to the state championships at Cornell University in June. However, Halpern is the one who can be called the Section VI champ – and the Prep Talk Male Athlete of the Week.
Name: Kevin Halpern.
Team: Williamsville North Spartans.
Position: No. 2 (I was our No. 2 player behind senior Mike Wells, who also qualified for the state championship.)
Coach John Burns on Kevin: "He has become a very good golfer over the last 12 months. Kevin has done all the little things I ask all my high school players to do, including playing in as many junior tournaments as possible. Becoming tournament-tough takes time to develop, but Kevin’s Section VI championship is a positive result of him putting himself in pressure situations over and over again. Kevin was surprised he won, but I was not because he has put in the work. In this game you often don’t see the dividends right away. He drives the ball long now and has improved his short game. If he continues to practice and play tournaments regularly, Kevin will improve even more and will be able to play at the college level in the future."
Tell us about your week: The week before Sectionals I played in two WNY Junior PGA tournaments and practiced every day leading up to the tournament.
How has your season gone so far?: Golf is a fall team sport with individual sectionals being played in the spring. We won our division (ECIC Large School North) for the third time since I was on the team. I was fourth in the ECIC with a stroke average of 40 so it was pretty good year for all of us.
Highlight of athletic career so far: Winning the Section VI championship.
Favorite thing about my sport: I like that as an individual sport, you have to depend on yourself, but at the same time I enjoy playing golf with my teammates and friends.
Favorite teammate and why: Mike Wells because we have been playing together for the last five years and we always compete with and push each other to be better.
Toughest opponent: Clarence in our division and Orchard Park in the ECIC team championship.
WNY athlete I look up to and why? Gary Battistoni, who was a great player and now has helped me with my swing to get to this level.
Pro/College athlete I admire now and why: Jason Day because he went through so many troubles as a teenager and fought through it to be the success he is today on the PGA Tour.
When I’m not playing or practicing my sport, I’m: Hanging out with my friends and watching hockey games.