There were high hopes for the Elizabethtown Area High School golf team this season following last year’s second-place finish in Section Two. The Bears looked to have gotten off on the right foot after taking second behind Warwick in the opening match of the season, and they were hoping to challenge the Warriors further down the line.
That’s not the way the next three matches would go. Struggling to stay consistent, Elizabethtown finished in fourth during two of those outings, barely managing third in the other. As a result, the Bears fell behind Ephrata and Garden Spot in the section standings. They would need a strong push in the final two regular-season matches to try and salvage their season.
The first came at Honeybrook Golf Club, Garden Spot’s home course, on Wednesday, Sept. 11. The match wound up being the tightest of the year, with the top four teams finishing within 11 strokes of each other. Warwick was able to hold on to win with a team score of 341. Ephrata (349) took second, finishing just one stroke ahead of Garden Spot (350). Meanwhile, Elizabethtown stayed in fourth place at 352.
Junior Alex Williams led the Bears with an 80 on the day, fourth among all golfers behind Solanco freshman Logan Wagner (77), Ephrata sophomore Jeet Patel (79) and Garden Spot senior Adam Hershey (79). Williams was generally solid across the board, tallying 9 pars and 5 bogeys overall. He birdied the 14th hole (a par 4) but did hit 3 double-bogeys.
Senior Eric Gilbert made his return to the team after a two-match absence following a disqualification in the second match of the season. He finished second on the Bears with an 86. Like Williams, Gilbert was mostly consistent, hitting just 3 double-bogeys. He had more bogeys (10) than pars (5), however.
Senior Will Schaffer had the best outing of his high school career, shooting a 90 to take third on the team. His score was marred by 3 triple-bogeys, but he did hit 6 pars and 7 bogeys. Junior Westin Kolaric had the other qualifying score (96) for the Bears, while junior Tyler Souders (98) and senior Alex O’Shea (105) also participated.
The final regular-season match took place at Foxchase Golf Club, the home course of Ephrata, on Monday, Sept. 16. Warwick was able to win once again with a team score of 321, completing its second straight undefeated season and winning the section title in the process. Ephrata and Garden Spot were tied for second heading into the match, but the Mounts (343) jumped the Spartans (350) in this one, aided by Elizabethtown (346) finishing in third.
Williams had a career day, leading all players with a 75, just four strokes over par. It was the best score of his high school career. Williams made few errors, finishing with 10 pars and shooting birdies on the 11th hole (a par-5) and the 16th hole (a par-3). He shot a 38 on the front nine and a 37 on the back.
Gilbert played terrifically as well, shooting a 79. That tied for fifth among the field with Warwick senior Ethan Minnich and matched his previous career-best score. Gilbert’s back nine was brought down by a double-bogey and a triple-bogey, but he did shoot even on the front nine, hitting three birdies along the way.
Kolaric and Schaffer shot a 95 and a 97, respectively, to round out Elizabethtown’s qualifying scores. Two triple-bogies hurt Kolaric; he had 3 pars and 8 bogeys otherwise. Schaffer was at least consistent, hitting 8 bogeys and 9 double-bogeys. The Bears also had Souders (100) and senior Nick Walton (104) in competition.
With a final record of 16-14 on the season, Elizabethtown will turn its attention to the Lancaster-Lebanon League Championship. The Bears already got a preview of the host course, as they’ll return to Foxchase for the event on Monday, Sept. 23.