By Greg Phipps
---- — BYFIELD — With its top three players returning this fall, the Triton golf team appears primed and ready to defend its 2012 Division 3 North championship.
But nothing is guaranteed, especially in a sport as unpredictable as golf can be, and Vikings head coach Rich Dube, in his eighth season at the helm, knows the importance of taking each match as it comes and not looking too far ahead.
“Obviously, we had a real good season last year, and we’re looking to build on that,” he said. “But trying to repeat (as North champions), and even winning a state championship is way down the road for us right now.”
The Vikings hosted Saugus in their season opener at Ould Newbury yesterday.
Of course, the coach does expect to contend for the Cape Ann League Division 1 title and a spot in the postseason tournament.
Last season, the Vikings, who finished 15-5, saved their best for the playoffs, as their top three players — junior captain Jon Seward, senior captain Kyle Hillick and junior Mike Shea — placed second, third and fourth overall in the North Sectional round. Seward carded a 73, followed by Hillick’s 74 and Shea’s 76 at the 18-hole Hillview course in North Reading.
Newburyport’s Brendan Crowther won the individual title by shooting a 70.
The performance of the Triton threesome helped the Vikings finish an imposing 11 strokes ahead of runner-up Arlington Catholic, 15 over third-place Weston, and 17 better than CAL foes Manchester Essex and Newburyport.
“We just had a great day all around (at the North sectionals),” Dube recalls. “The way I see last year is that we had a good season and a great couple of days in the tournament.”
To achieve continued success in 2013, Triton will need consistently solid outings from not only the top trio of Seward, Hillick and Shea, but varsity returnees Ryan Manning, a senior, Adam Chatterton and Brett Greenberg, both juniors, and Brad Small, a sophomore. Finding that consistency is not always easy to accomplish.
“Golf is unlike any other sport, I think, in that it’s harder to be consistent from one match to the next,” Dube said. “The best players in the world aren’t always consistent, and these are just kids. So they have to continue to work on their game and try to get better.”
The impressive depth and experience of this year’s squad, for the most part, seems to trump any trepidations about steady play.
Seven of Triton’s top eight players have varsity experience, with the one exception being junior Jake Aponas.
“All of the players have worked hard at their golf games during the summer, and I expect us to be competitive in every match we play,” Dube said. “As always, it will be a challenge. There are many strong teams in our league, so obviously we’ll have to play well to get it done.”
Triton's Tradition The Triton golf team has proven to be the top program in the River Rival Region over the last 14 years. Here are some facts about the program: The Vikings have won seven of the last 14 River Rival Championships. The Vikings are 91-32 under eighth-year coach Rich Dube. The Vikings are the defending Division 3 North champions.