Raider Golfers Battle Opponents and the Elements. By John Torsiello.
By, JOHN TORSIELLO
The Torrington High School golf team’s toughest opponent this spring has been….the weather.
You don’t need to be told that this has been one of the wettest, coldest springs in recent memory, which, of course, makes it tough to play golf on a consistent basis. The Raiders had only 11 matches prior to a scheduled three-way match with Wilby and Kennedy on Thursday. But Torrington has persevered and posted an 8-3 mark in the matches it has been able to play.
Junior Mark Ledda, last year’s medalist at the Naugatuck Valley League tournament, has been a strong ray of sunshine for the Raiders during a cloudy April and May. He has been hotter than the temperature in the early going, consistently shooting in the 30’s and posting a torrid 33 for nine holes at Torrington Country Club. On Tuesday against Naugatuck at Hop Brook Golf Course he went low again, shooting a 36.
Ledda began the season in modest fashion, with a 42 against St. Paul Catholic at Bristol’s Chippanee Country Club and then began to turn it on. He shot a 39 at Crestbrook Park Golf Course against Watertown and then a 36 at Farmingbury Hills Golf Club against Wolcott. He followed that up with a pair of 39s sandwiched around a 40, and then went real low with his 33 at TCC against Naugatuck and Wolcott.
Anthony Marinelli, a senior, has been a solid player all season and fired a 39 at Torrington Country Club last Thursday against Watertown. Seven times he has been the second leading scorer behind Ledda in scoring against other teams. Brayden Nietch, a freshman with much potential, has been the second-best scorer for THS against other squads on four occasions, including a 43 against Naugatuck and Wolcott at TCC, and a 44 against Sacred Heart at TCC.
Ledda and Marinelli finished second in Wolcott’s two-man Stigberg Memorial Tournament this season.
“Jon Ledda and Anthony Marinelli are our top two players,” said head coach Mike McKenna. “Jon is an extremely strong player shooting consistently in the mid 30's, with his best score a 33 at TCC. Anthony is capable of going low, but was a little inconsistent earlier in the season. I am hoping that Anthony's scores continue to improve as we head toward the NVL tournament. Jon was the medalist at the NVL tournament last year and, I would think, the favorite this year. I am hoping that Anthony can jump up and grab one of the other top spots as well.”
McKenna, THS athletic director, took over the reins this year from longtime Raider coach, Joe Minutillo, who stepped away after 33 years patrolling the fairways. The Kennedy High School graduate once led his teams to 12 straight NVL titles and a streak of six straight league titles ended by Watertown in 2004.
Holy Cross has been the class of the NVL this spring. When THS met up with the Crusaders, the latter posted four scores of 41 with their fifth player recording a 43. Torrington beat a very good Watertown squad early in the campaign, but the Indians got revenge last week at Torrington Country Club in a close match on a, you guessed it, a damp and chilly day.
“We play St. Paul's on Tuesday up at TCC,” said McKenna. “They beat us early and the kids are looking forward to that match. It will be our last match before the NVL tournament on May 30.”
McKenna said his team has “worked extremely hard” and “considering the weather,” have played very well. “We have two seniors, Marinelli and Greg Aschenbrenner. They are great kids that work hard on their games, and along with Jon they lead by example.” Aschenbrenner’s best score has been a 46 at Chippanee Country Club.
The coach continued, “The improvement in our two younger players has been quite noticeable. Brayden Nietch has given us a few low-40 scores this season and sophomore Ashton Tyler is vastly improved from the beginning of the season.”
McKenna said that other than the weather, the Raiders’ biggest hurdle has been a lack of players. “We only have five players on the team. I am really hoping that we can at least double that number next year and I would love to see some girls come out for the team. It wouldn't be a problem to have a girls’ team at THS if we could get enough kids, but any girls are welcome with the boy’s team.”