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Stone leads Potsdam golfers to sixth straight sectional title

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MALONE - A sixth straight Section 10 Golf Championship left Potsdam Central coach Steve Kmack experiencing mixed emotions on Wednesday.

“It’s bittersweet. I’m very happy to see the kids come through with this win. They worked hard to earn this but it’s also disappointing because golf is being eliminated from the athletic program for next year. It’s one of the most successful sports that we’ve had at Potsdam and at this point it looks like this is going to be our last win at sectionals,” said Kmack after the Sandstoners came away from the Malone Country Club with the championship trophy for the ninth time in his 13-year tenure at the golf helm.

Potsdam was led by the two-over par performance of senior lefty Ben Stone, Potsdam posted a five-player total of 438 to finish atop the team standings ahead of Massena at 444 and host Franklin Academy at 446. Stone shot his way to the top of the individual leaderboard with a steady round of 74 that saw him shoot 37 on both the front and back nines of the par-72 East Course.

“It feels good,” said Stone, a four-year starter for the Sandstoners. “We had perfect weather today. I just tried to keep the ball in play and make as many pars as I could. If you shoot low, it’s good for yourself and good for the team.”

Stone was one of just two golfers to break 80 on a day when all but 11 competitors carded rounds of 90 or higher. A total of 27 made the cut at 93 and will be returning to the East Course today for the medalist round where Stone will look to fend off a challenge from Brushton-Moira freshman sensation Devin Delisle, a member of the Malone Country Club who used his familiarity with the emerald surroundings to forge a four-over par 76 on Wednesday.

“I should sleep well tonight,” said Delisle, who will start the second day of the tournament just two shots behind Stone in the chase for the individual title. “I had a lot of birdie putts but I didn’t make any. Hopefully tomorrow I can keep the ball in play like I did today and make some putts.”

“I just have to think about my own game and not worry about anything else,” he added.

Rounding out the final trio today will be sophomore Hunter Francis, who anchored the Massena effort with an 82.

Of the 27 golfers to make the cut on Wednesday, there are five each from Potsdam and Massena, four each from OFA and Franklin Academy, two each from Norwood-Norfolk, Salmon River and Madrid-Waddington and one from Tupper Lake.

N-N, which went undefeated to claim the NAC Division II regular season title, finished ahead of the rest of the Division II field with a team score of 486 led by Matt Myers with a 90 and Cole Davey with a 92.

Leading the way for the host Huskies were David Sprague with an 83 and Evan Hanna with an 87.

OFA, which challenged for the Division I regular season title, was anchored by Conor Hannan with an 88 and Brandon Mullin with an 89.

“I thought we had just as good a chance to win as anybody coming into today but this is a tough golf course,” said Blue Devil coach Joe Lynch. “We’re a young team and we were just nervous.”

“If you look at the scores, only two guys scorched the course while everyone else was so closely bunched together.”

“We have four guys who moved on and I’m happy with that,” he added. “This is a great experience for all of our kids.”

Rounding out the top five for Potsdam were; Dustin LaValley with a 90, Mike Chambers and Dan Cruikshank with 91’s, and Dan Stone with a 92.

“I had a feeling Ben would be the one to lead us today but we won because the guys down low came through big for us. They didn’t do anything fancy but they held their own and that’s what we needed,” noted Kmack, who, regardless of the program’s future at Potdsam, plans on stepping down following this spring after having already announced he would not be returning as head coach of the varsity boys basketball program.

“It’s nice to be going out as sectional champion for both basketball and now for golf,” he added. “I just want to give a big thanks to Evre Veres, the club pro at Potsdam Town and Country Club, and his staff for all their help over the years and to the golf community in Potsdam for all its kindness and support for me and the kids all these years. Our program would have been the success it’s been without them.”

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