Gold Team Looks To Repeat

Vincent Paravecchia

The Bucks golf team began the 2003 season with strong finishes in matches over the past three weeks. The talented but largely inexperienced team placed fourth overall in each of its first two matches against top area competition.

Led by star golfer Josh Ross and team captain Nick Riggieri, the defending runners-up in the state are trying to reload after losing a handful of players from last year’s squad. Part of the challenge has been developing the talent in younger players.

“We have to focus on consistency,” head coach Scott Bradshaw said.

A major area of concern is consistency. A number of golfers have followed great rounds with poor ones. The team is full of potential, but has yet to maintain the scores necessary to repeat the success from last year.

“We are looking good, but we need someone to come in with a score in the 80s to mid-70s,” said Riggieri.

In two matches the team has fared well despite some uncertainty.

On September 5, they finished in fourth place at the Eagle’s Crossing course in Shippensburg, Pa. The highlight for Bucks was Ross, who turned in the best individual score of the field despite very difficult greens and playing conditions.

The team’s second match on September 11 at Allentown Municipal Golf Course yielded similar results. The team again finished fourth out of ten teams, with Ross finishing twelfth overall and Riggieri finishing sixth.

“I just play the best game I can,” Ross said. He believes the team is strong enough to make a run for the state tournament.

A member of the southern division in the Eastern Pennsylvania Community College league, Bucks will compete against the same ten teams it has faced so far in three more tournaments.

The first of these matches will be Friday, September 19, at Iron Run golf course in Lehigh County. The team then goes to Harrisburg’s Penn National course September 23, and concludes the regular season October 1 at Northeast Philadelphia’s Lulu Country Club.

The team hopes to use the regular season to gain experience for the more difficult regional tournament. Regionals will take place October 6 in Fleetwood, PA, against the best teams in the area.

From there, the squad must finish in the top 5 to qualify for the state tournament either as a full team or as individual players. The states run from October 12-14 at a site yet to be determined.

Coach Bradshaw has scheduled practices as much as possible to help his team prepare for the upcoming events.

Each day, the team reports to the Middletown Country Club in Langhorne after classes. He anticipates this will enable his top players to help the newcomers improve their games and succeed against the tough competition.

“The guys are enjoying themselves and helping each other at the same time,” Bradshaw said. “We are setting the stage and maturing.”

Enjoyment is something Bradshaw frequently preaches to his players. While this could become a struggle for them, he believes it is vital for success.

“The players have to get used to juggling academics with athletics,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw’s optimism has undoubtedly spread to his players. They are confident that neither team putting nor adapting to the upcoming cold weather will hinder their run toward the state tournament.

Riggieri and Ross are the early favorites to get there, though both believe there may be one or two more qualifiers from the team at season’s end.

“If we don’t have the skill yet, we have the class needed to get there,” Ross said.