Horizons Shine Bright for Both Garnet Golf Teams

Last season, in their second year of existence, the fledgling Rye girls’ golf team flipped the 4-8 script of their inaugural campaign and finished 2009 as an 8-4 league runner-up.

Just seven games into the current schedule it’s obvious the Garnets are outdoing themselves again. The team has already notched five victories – including wins against talented Scarsdale and Byram Hills – and their two losses have come against elite private schools Ursuline and Rye Country Day. In fact, they lost to Ursuline by the smallest of golf margins – one stroke.

Jennifer Lee

This Rye team wants to take it one step further than they did last year, and has set themselves a goal of winning the league title.

“I am very pleased with the progress of the girls’ golf team,” said head coach Rich Savage. “It would be an amazing accomplishment to have a team in its third year contending for a league title. This is a reflection on a group of girls who work on their golf game year round. I am just lucky to have them attend Rye.”

Last June Rye graduated Julia Fiala, a student who had much to do with getting the program off the ground, as well as someone the team could consistently count on to lead both on and off the course. While Savage said Fiala is irreplaceable, a new crop of Garnets are already demonstrating what it takes to propel the Garnets to a championship.

“Jennifer Lee has done an excellent job filling in the number one spot for Fiala,” said Savage of his star tenth grader. “Thanks to her experience at the New York State tournament last year, she is playing like a senior, not a sophomore.”

Junior captains Julia Pasqualini and Nancy Kelleher give confidence to their teammates, and do their best to make everyone feel a part of the team. Eighth grader Alexis Hios has also been a top contributor to the team, and consistently scores in the 40s. Savage noted the improved play of Caroline Whelan, Emily Liddy and Katie Geoghegan as added reasons for success.

“Obviously having a young team provides for a very bright future,” said Savage. “My hope is to challenge these girls and hopefully they will continue to play year round and inspire other young girls to take up the sport. They are a great bunch of girls that are a pleasure to coach.”

Although they aren’t experiencing the same success as their female counterparts, the 1-5 Rye boys’ golf team is another young squad with a promising outlook.

“So far I’m not displeased with the way we have played,” said head coach Pat Romano, whose team’s 13-year run of championships ended last year after a move up in leagues. “We are starting three freshmen with virtually no match experience so it’s truly a rebuilding year.”

Andrew Gladstone

Sophomore Andrew Gladstone is Rye’s No. 1, a golfer who has made great strides in his game. Last year he had a couple of “blow up” rounds early in the season, but an episode like that has yet to occur in 2010. He’s an athlete who is very tough on himself, as well as one who has quickly become an invaluable asset to the team.

“He’s a tremendous young man and the type of kid I would allow to date one of my daughters – when she turns 30, of course,” said Romano. “As far as golf goes, Andrew’s strength is his driver. He hits the ball far and usually pretty straight. If he can improve his short game, there is no reason why he cannot be one of the top players in the Section.”

Romano also praised his senior group, which includes Peter Keating, Colin Leslie, Adam Larsen, Ryan Calo and Jack Kelleher, who brings a football mentality to the links.

“In the previous couple of seasons Jack was very erratic, but this year he is putting it all together and has a chance to qualify for Sectionals,” said Romano. “Keating has also played a lot better this year and has been a big factor for us, while Larsen and Calo are proof that hard work and perseverance pay off.”

Rye’s coach believes the team can right the ship, but said it will take freshmen starters Thomas Henderson, Henry Bailey and Jabril Whiteside to keep gaining experience while Gladstone and Kelleher aim for consistency by shooting 40 or lower in each match.

“If we can do these things we will be back to playing Garnet Golf,” said Romano.

The Garnets get the chance to turn things around May 10 in a rematch on the road with Harrison. In their meeting in late April, the Huskies edged the Garnets by one stroke.

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