Cooper Chamberland is a senior on the Gray-New Gloucester High School golf team. 

GRAY — The Gray-New Gloucester golf team has some unfinished business from the 2016 season.

At the Western Maine Conference qualifier the Patriots just missed out for qualifying the the Class B team state championships. They return everyone in 2017, and once the snow melted this spring, they decided to hit the links as much as they could.

“We all communicated through social media and let each other know we are going out on a specific day,” senior Cooper Chamberland said. “Whoever wanted to come out, came out.”

The players believe all the practice they had before the preseason has helped. It shows their scoring averages, which are down from the past season.

“Seven-and-5 I guess we went (in 2016). This year, we are going to be better because all of our averages are better this season,” senior Adam Dubail said. “Hopefully we will come up close for the state qualifier and play well.”

“I think we know we have a chance this year and that our abilities are able to bring us into the state championship. That makes us want to practice and play more,” senior Adam Dubail said.

Head coach Kyle Bennett has seen the hard work already paying off.

“So far this fall we have been off to a good start in practice rounds,” Bennett said. “We were able to get a preseason match in (last) week and the results went in our favor. It was a little bit of a confident booster from that. Our guys are ready to go for (this week).”

The Patriots played a quad match at Rockland Golf Club against Oceanside, Georges Stevens and Medomak Valley during the preseason. Bennett said that was good experience because the players got to play on a golf course they’re not used to — something they will be doing a lot of this season.

Bennett believes missing the cut for states was a good learning experience for the team.

“They responded well,” Bennett said. “I think the thing I noticed most going into this season is they are using it as motivation. They know they are capable of qualifying. Last year, there was a few mishaps on the course, and we’ve learned from that. We kind of know how to manage our rounds better now and to be smarter, know where to put the ball to keep our scores lower.”

Chamberlain is expected to be one of the team’s top-two golfers again this season. He was the lone Patriot to qualify for the individual state championships last season. He shot 96 and finished 28th.

Chamberlain learned from competing against other high schoolers across the state. He said needs to keep his emotions in check and learn how to play in the cold.

He doesn’t believe his state experience will be much help his teammates.

“I am going to let them, do them,” Chamberland said. “It’s just an experience you have to find out yourself. Honestly, you have to go in and not think about it. Pretend it’s an every-day match. You want to go win it.”

Bennett believes Chamberlain’s experience will help the other players if they do make it into states because he will have the course knowledge that the others don’t have.

Beyond Chamberlain, Bennett is comfortable putting anyone else on the roster in the lineup.

“It’s probably one of our biggest strengths on our team, as we have the depth from top to bottom without graduating anyone from last year,” Bennett said. “We aren’t really starting fresh to start the year. I’ve got eight guys on the roster that saw time last year. The big thing for us is we are going to ride the hot hand, and whoever is playing well is going to be playing at the top. We feel confident the guys we stick out at the four, five and six spot have a chance to get a point for us.”

Bennett expects juniors Josh Magno and Campbell Macomber to be behind Chamberlain and Dubail as regulars in the lineup. Magno, who only played half of season his freshman year, was a much better player as a sophomore. Bennett said other coaches in the WMC were impressed at Mango’s improvements from his freshman season.

Bennett also believes no matter what happens this season, the future is bright for the Patriots’ golf program.

Freshmen Al Doughty IV, in Bennett’s words, is “one of the dedicated kids” on the team. Just like the upperclassmen, he been golfing as much as possible this summer and working on his swing. The work he has put in may put him in the lineup this year.

“That’s the thing we’ve been stressing here in Gray, if we can get kids interested in golf at the younger age where they’ve seen the course, they played the game before they get at the high school level,” Bennett said. “Then we have guys like Al who come in his freshmen year, he knows the game, he just needs tweaks here and there. My job is to make sure I can get him ready for matches this year, so he can grow into his own and be a guy we can lean on in the future.”

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