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#PrepTalkPreview: Boys golf – Young talent, streaks headline this season

2016 team champions: Orchard Park (ECIC and ECIC South Large), East Aurora/Holland (ECIC South Small), Williamsville North (ECIC North Large), Alden (ECIC North Small), Niagara Wheatfield (Niagara Frontier League), Wilson (Niagara-Orleans), St. Joe's (Monsignor Martin).

2016 state tournament participant underclassmen: Kevin Halpern-11 (Williamsville North), Andrew LaCongo-10 (East Aurora/Holland), Ian Wagner-9 (Medina), Jake Roach-10 (East Aurora/Holland), Ben Spitz-10 (Orchard Park), Matt Jeffe-10 (East Aurora/Holland). Alternate: Kole Maytum-11 (Chautauqua Lake).

2016 state Catholic tournament participant underclassmen: Dylan Angelo-10 (St. Joe's), Connor MacDonald-10 (St. Joe's), Shane Broad-10 (St. Joe's), Will Ritchie-11 (St. Joe's), Matthew Jackson-10 (Canisius), Andrew Darby-10 (Nichols), Mike Donner-11 (St. Francis), Jack Haxton-11 (St. Francis), Mike Tomczak-11 (St. Francis).

They're streaking: Orchard Park, Niagara Wheatfield and Wilson each sport impressive lengthy winning streaks.

OP has won 40 in a row and hasn't lost since 2012 (via tiebreaker to Lancaster). The Quakers are the first golf team in school history to go unbeaten in the regular season and win the ECIC Team Championship title four years in a row.

Defending Niagara Frontier League champion Niagara Wheatfield has won 45 straight league matches and is on a 65-1 tear. Three-time defending Niagara-Orleans champion Wilson has won 40 straight league matches.

OP has scoreboard on Wilson. The two met in a nonleague match last year with the Quakers winning 192-211.

Orchard Park's oldest returning player is junior Ben Spitz. He's not the only Quaker to keep an eye on as sophomore Aidan Shaw is back and is the reigning ECIC Tournament champion.

Those who hope to help Niagara Wheatfield remain in the top spot of the NFL for the fourth year in a row include senior Nick Peters, junior Nolan Codd and freshman Anthony Delisanti. All averaged 39 last season. While the Falcons have three who scored very well, each team in the NFL has one or two solid golfers, coach Tim Codd said.

"You have to come everyday (ready to play)," Codd said. "If you're off, someone can take one from you."

Lakemen fishing for more: While Wilson has its streak half of its starting lineup – three players who each had the ability to shoot under 40 for nine holes – has graduated. Looking to keep the good times rolling for the Lakemen are Nate Fox, Nick Seider and Patrick Seeley.

Fox averaged 40 per round last year, showing the ability to shoot in the mid to high 30s. Seider (41) and Seeley (41.5) were right behind him.

The top five scores count toward a team's overall match score in the N-O. Coach Mark Kurtz isn't sure who his final three starters will be but knows what Wilson must do if it wants to win the crown, again.

"We need to get a couple guys who can shoot anywhere from 45-50," he said. "We need a couple guys to step up."

Blue Devils look to build on last year: East Aurora/Holland has several key returnees from last year's team that finished five strokes behind Orchard Park in the ECIC team championship tournament.

That includes Section VI Tournament runner-up Andrew LaCongo, the junior who placed 17th at the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association tournament – the highest among Section VI's participants. He was one of three Blue Devils to qualify for the states with the others being fellow classmates Jake Roach and Matt Jeffe. Jeffe sank a long putt on the first playoff hole at sectionals to earn the ninth and final berth into the state tournament from the area.

Also back for EA is Jeffe's twin brother Mitch, who also qualified for sectionals.  Although the Blue Devils need to fill four spots in their lineup, they're still hungry for success.

"Our goal this year is to repeat as ECIC Small School South champion and probably face Orchard Park again for the overall team championship again in October," said Blue Devils co-coach Jay Hoagland. He shares coaching duties with Mike Klimchuck.

Around the Association: The matches were close but St. Joe's ran the table during a 14-0 championship season. While the Marauders graduated four starters, including state Catholic champion Jacob Mertz, the cupboard isn't totally bare for the Marauders, who have posted a 26-2 record the last two seasons. Key returnees for the Marauders include Connor MacDonald, Will Ritchie, Shane Broad and Dylan Angelo.

But St. Francis, Nichols and Canisius all look to make a push for the top spot. St. Francis' efforts should be led by Mike Donner, who took second at the New York State Federation Tournament last June. Nichols' top players include Cavan Derrigan and Max Via. Matt Jackson returns for Canisius.

Around the green: Williamsville North has had one of its golfers win the Section VI title each of the last three season. The Spartans' Kevin Halpern looks to make it four in a row after capturing last season's crown via playoff as a junior.

Although the Spartans graduated two who finished in the top 24 at sectionals, they return two other talents in juniors Jacob Belote and Jeff Cummins.

North has won its division four times over the last five years but coach John Burns said ECIC North Large is wide open.

"All the teams have three or four core players coming back," Burns said. "I think everyone in our division will be searching for the 5-8 guys. Whoever is successful in filling those spots will be successful at winning this division."

Other players to keep an eye on include Sweet Home's Tyler Edholm and Alex Farkas along with Clarence's Justin and Christian Gugliuzza

Led by Ian Wagner, who finished third at sectionals, Medina could be poised to challenge Wilson should the Lakemen stumble. Others to keep an eye on for the Mustangs include seventh-grader Aidan Paul and sophomore Trevor Luthart.

There are two seasons: The 20 teams that participate in the three CCAA leagues play their respective schedules during the spring. Those teams are Dunkirk, Falconer, Fredonia, Jamestown, Olean, Southwestern, Cassadaga Valley, Chautauqua Lake, Forestville, Frewsburg, Maple Grove, Silver Creek, Sherman, Allegany-Limestone, Cattaraugus/ Little Valley, Ellicottville, Franklinville, Portville, Randolph, Salamanca.

Championship time: Niagara-Orleans League Tournament at Willowbrook, Oct. 3; All-Catholic Championship Tournament at Tan Tara, Oct 9; Niagara Frontier League Tournament at Willowbrook, Oct. 10; ECIC Tournament at Sheridan Park, Oct. 10; ECIC Team Championship Tournament at TBA, Oct. 16; Section VI Tournament at River Oaks, May. 21; NYSPHSAA Tournament at Cornell, June 3-4; State Catholic Tournament at TBA, TBA; Federation Tournament at Bethpage Black, June 10.

Who's going to be Prep Talk Player of the Year?  The early contenders include Halpern, LaCongo, Spitz, Shaw, Wagner and Donner.

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