Monday, April 13, 2015

Xaverian wins Division 1 state golf title

WEST SPRINGFIELD — When Xaverian’s Mark Lallak and his teammates chatted with BC High golfers on the putting green Monday morning, the teams shared a similar mindset.

“Just got to beat the Prep,” Lallak recalls saying.

And later that afternoon, not only did Lallak and Co. dethrone St. John’s Prep – they won the Division 1 state championship. The Hawks shot an overall 299 to second-place Prep’s 301, capturing the school’s first golf team championship since 1993.

St. John’s Prep won the title last year and has 13 championships overall. But Monday, it was Xaverian’s turn to hoist the hardware. After losing to Prep in a tiebreaker last year, the Hawks got the revenge they’ve craved since that day.

“I can’t say enough about how they performed under the grinding pressure,” Xaverian coach Gerry Lambert said. “To play 18 holes with all the money on the table, you just absolutely take your hat off to them. They were wonderful today.”

Lambert remembers the agony of riding home as runners-up rather than as champions last year. The last six times Prep and Xaverian have faced off, each team has won three times.

The Hawks didn’t dominate in the regular season. In fact, they lost five times. Lambert attributes the championship to Xaverian’s tough schedule.

“It paid dividends today,” Lambert said. “Our guys responded to the pressure that they’re used to feeling and used to responding to.”

Breaking 300 wasn’t a specific goal, but Lambert said it was a “really, really strong effort” on the par 72 Springfield Country Club.

No one on the Hawks posted a remarkable score, but their average was enough to claim the championship.

Of the four individual scores Xaverian kept Monday, Lambert said two of them were by different players than last week. New players stepped up and contributed. Xaverian’s team is made up of three seniors (Colin Devin, Mitch Kubik, and Lallak) and three sophomores (Andrew McInerney, Billy Fox, and Jack Boulger).

As the scores trickled in, Lallak thought his team was out of the running. But he was shocked once he saw the results veer in Xaverian’s direction.

When it was over, Devin said it was almost too good to be true.

“These guys got better throughout the year, and when the lights came on today they were able to get it done,” Lambert said.

Lexington’s Jack Lang won the individual championship, shooting a 68.

Lang, who will play at Davidson next year, qualified for the tournament his freshman year but failed to do so his sophomore and junior seasons.

“That makes this much more special,” he said.

Lang had an eagle on the 15th hole and was 4 under through nine holes. He felt the pressure, but just tried to clear his mind and focus on golf.

It worked, and now he’s a state champion.

“It means everything,” Lang said. “High school golf is the best time in my year.”

Mansfield’s Mike Kelleher got a hole in one on his first shot of the day. Ludlow’s Robert Libiszewski hit a shot over parked cars to salvage par on one hole.

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