Brandon Bearce watches his shot during the Class B/C state championship last season at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro. Bearce leads the Messalonskee golf team into the KVAC A Shootout on Thursday. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Ryan Meserve has a good problem on his hands.

Whereas many high school golf teams hope to lean on two or three talented golfers every year, the Maranacook golf coach has enviable depth for countable spots in the lineup.

“I’ve been really lucky this year, and I think this is what’s helped us kind of weather what every team goes through, which is ups and downs,” Meserve said. “I have seven solid players that I could put in any spot.”

Until a 6.5-2.5 loss to Cony on Sept. 21 in a tri-match with Erskine Academy, the Black Bears had been enjoying an undefeated regular season.

Maranacook is one of three teams — along with Leavitt and Maine Central Institute — vying for a victory at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B Shootout on Thursday at the Rockland Golf Club. The KVAC A Shootout will also take place Thursday, at the Brunswick Golf Club. Brunswick, Messalonskee, Edward Little and Hampden Academy will compete for the KVAC A Shootout crown.

The KVAC Shootout victors will be crowned conference champions.

“I’ve been incredibly happy,” Meserve said. “They’re a real great group of kids, they try really hard. They take to action the stuff that we talk about in practice. They’ve had a really good season and really embrace the role of not just focusing on their own match, but they understand the team concept of it.

“It’s been a good number of years since I’ve been back in the Shootout. This team is nice to have that competitive end of the season aspect, so that’s great.”

Sophomore Wyatt Folsom, whom Meserve said is averaging a 38 score this fall, is the Black Bears’ top golfer.

“He had his best round in the divisional playoffs,” Meserve said. “He shot a 35, even par. Nine straight pars, had a really great round. He was playing (Cony’s Ollie Roderigue), just the week before when Cony gave us our only loss of the season, and those guys at Cony, their home course played really well, so I know the Maranacook team was pretty motivated to see them again (Monday) and finish in the playoffs.”

Freshman James Marr is the team’s No. 2 golfer. Brandon Chilton, Alex Trafton, Ben Jewett, Wyatt Lyons and Trent Murray also contribute for Maranacook.

Austin Stromick of Brunswick watches his first hole tee shot during a golf match on Monday against Mt. Ararat in the KVAC league playoffs at Brunswick Golf Club. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

“(Folsom and No. 1 and Marr at No. 2) has pretty much been the constant all year,” Meserve said. “James is just super steady, (hitting) fairways, greens or just in front and chip up. He’s played really well.”

Meserve said he expects a great challenge at the Shootout from both MCI, which defeated Belfast on Tuesday to reach the event, and Leavitt, another team that had a strong regular season. The Hornets are paced by No. 1 golfer Ruby Haylock, who won last year’s Maine Women’s Amateur.

In KVAC A, Messalonskee (18-1) has enjoyed a strong season. The Eagles cruised past Mt. Blue 9-0 on Tuesday to cement their spot in the Shootout.

“At (18-1), you can’t be disappointed,” coach Gene Dumont said. “The team has played well, they’ve gotten better, if you can get better. We’re strong, we’re deep. I’ve got a lot of choices to start (in the lineup). My top two or three players are very strong. We’re happy to be where we’re at and we’re looking forward to the playoffs.”

Messalonskee’s top golfer is senior Brandon Bearce, a Waterville transfer. The Eagles have also received consistent low scores from Mitch Grant, Sam Seekins, Jude Lilly and Brady Bumford. Dumont said he knew the Eagles would play well this season, but adding Bearce to the mix has provided a spark.

“(Bearce) is a very strong player, he’s our No. 1 now,” Dumont said. “When you have a No. 1 move into a strong, deep team, it just makes it that much stronger.”

Brunswick fought past rival Mt. Ararat on Monday for its place in the Shootout, beating the Eagles by 10 strokes (171-181).

“We were fired up coming into (the Mt. Ararat match),” said Austin Stromick of Brunswick, the low medalist of the match with a 39, after beating Mt. Ararat. “We knew there was more at stake today, so Charlie (Austin) wanted to up our game knowing that we’d have this opportunity.”

 

Eli Canfield of The Times Record contributed to this report.

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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