The Bishop Hendricken golf team didn’t have a bad showing at this week’s Rhode Island High School Golf Championship Tournament, but it was going to take an exceptional showing to knock off defending state champion Barrington.
The Hawks didn’t have one of those either.
Behind the solid play of junior Justin Matrone, Hendricken made the cut on Tuesday and followed that up with an almost identical day on Wednesday, which was good enough for second place overall. The Hawks’ total score of 629 was well back of the Eagles, who finished with a 606 and another title. Chariho took third with a 633.
Barrington’s Dave Kraunelis won his second straight individual state title with a 147 two-day total, including a 71 on the final day. Matrone was Hendricken’s top finisher in sixth place with a 151.
The state championship was Barrington’s 10th in the last 12 years. On the flip side, Hendricken’s runner-up finish was its ninth since 2002. The Hawks’ state-title drought is now at 12 years, as its last championship was in 2001.
That said, Hendricken’s second-place finish this season was its best since a runner-up finish in 2009. It has finished fourth, eighth and third each of the last two years.
“I think that if we could have not had as much distance between us and (Barrington) after day one then maybe we could have put a little pressure on them to maybe make a move today,” first-year Hendricken head coach Rick Angeli said on Wednesday. “I’m pleased with the guys, pleased with their effort. We had a great season.”
The Hawks came in as substantial underdogs to Barrington, who had been the top team in the state since the beginning of the season.
That assessment held true on day one, where Barrington shot a 300, and Hendricken was well back in second place with a 314. The Hawks got a surprise 73 from Matrone – the team’s No. 3 player – on day one to put him in a tie for second place, but the other team scores were a 78 from freshman Claudio Soukamneuth, an 81 from No. 4 player Garret Quillen and a pair of 82’s from No. 6 player Billy Palmer and No. 1 Brandon Macedo. Number two player Duncan Marshall shot an 85.
“We were a little disappointed yesterday,” Matrone said. “We thought we could have done better. We have high expectations because we were an underdog and there’s not really a lot of pressure on us because nobody thought we were going to win.”
In contrast, Barrington’s worst score that it counted on day one was a 76, by the eventual champion Kraunelis.
“Barrington, what we got is what we expected,” Angeli said.
Starting out on day two, Hendricken knew it had lot of ground to make up if it was going to overtake the Eagles and get back into contention.
It didn’t happen that way. Matrone was three-over on the front, and everyone else played just about average. The result was a 315, one shot worse than Tuesday’s score, and no ground made up whatsoever.
Barrington shot a 306, empathically shutting the door.
“Our attitude was that if we could go out early and make some noise early and try to put the Barrington guys under the gun, make some birdies early and show them that we were here to play, then we’d see what happens,” Angeli said. “We were going to need some help from them.”
Matrone, Quillen and Macedo all shot 78’s on day two, while Marshall fired an 81 and Soukamneuth shot an 82. Palmer finished with an 89.
The most impressive performance of the tournament belonged to Matrone, who came up big for the second straight year. Last season, he was Hendricken’s top performer with a ninth-place showing and a 152 score.
Sixth-place was the highest finish for a Hendricken golfer since Peter Taylor finished tied for third in 2008. Had Matrone not doubled his 36th hole, he could have finished tied for second or third.
“I was trying to win,” Matrone said. “Definitely trying to win. I knew with a field like this it would be tough and I would have to play my best golf. You can’t win them all.”
Quillen finished tied for 16th with a two-day total of 159, while Macedo and Soukamneuth tied for 20th with 161’s. Marshall finished with a 166, and Palmer had a 171.
Of the six Hendricken players who competed, only two of them – Macedo and Palmer – were seniors. With a number of players in the pipeline, the Hawks should be back next year to compete for the top spot once again.
“The future looks bright,” Angeli said. “We’re looking forward to next year.”
Portsmouth’s Jake Bauer finished in second in the tournament with a 149, while South Kingsotwn’s McKinley Slad, Lincoln’s Jonathan Wahl and Barrington’s John Howell were tied for third with 150. La Salle’s Matthew Corio would have had a 149, but he was disqualified after signing an incorrect scorecard and then leaving the signing area.
By virtue of his regular season performance and his state tournament performance, Macedo earned Second-Team All-State honors from the Rhode Island Coaches Association. In addition, he, Soukamneuth, Marshall and Matrone were named First-Team All-Division, while Quillen earned Second-Team honors.