EAST BRANDYWINE – Balancing individual aspirations and team goals can be a challenge at a golf tournament like the Ches-Mont Championships. But for a squad like Unionville – who dominated every facet of the 18-hole competition on Tuesday at Applecross Country Club – it was a breeze.
On a sun-splashed afternoon, the Indians completed a rare sweep by winning the overall team crown, securing the Ches-Mont American title in the process and grabbing medalist honors in both the boys’ and the girls’ categories.
“It was a great day for Unionville,” said first year head coach James O’Rourke, who took over for legendary mentor Greg Kanaskie following his retirement.
“It’s hard to imagine it going much better for us.”
With four of its top five scorers in the 70s, Unionville cruised to the program’s fourth consecutive Ches-Mont team championship, topping C-M National champ West Chester East by 13 strokes. The Indians (380) and the Vikings (393) were the only teams to break 400
“We have 16 players on the team, and I just marvel at the scores we have top-to-bottom,” O’Rourke said. “It’s a blessing to have a group this competitive. They really push each other. My job is easy as a coach – the only hard part is figuring out who to play because the depth is there.”
There is little question who is number one, however. Senior Nick Gianelos cruised to the boys’ individual title a year after being the runner-up. The West Chester resident was the only player in the field to break par, and his 2-under 70 was four strokes better than his Unionville teammate, Connor Bennick and West Chester East’s Cole Chew.
“It’s nice to be able to say we’ve won it all four years,” Gianelos said. “We now have big goals for (the upcoming) districts and states.
“It gives the team more confidence knowing what we’ve done here and knowing we can do it again. We feel like we are better than everyone else here.”
On the girls’ side, Indians’ freshman Charlotte Scully carded an 84 to take the crown by five strokes over West Chester East’s Sophia Amoroso.
“It’s been really exciting to see all of this happen,” said Scully, who lives in Chadds Ford and has been playing the game for five years.
With Scully leading the way, the Ches-Mont is sending a total of four girls to the District 1 Tournament, which will begin on Oct. 9 at Gilbertsville Golf Club, and will conclude the next day at Turtle Creek Golf Club. The others are Amoroso, Faith Rule (Bishop Shanahan) and Nimah Naringsingh-Smith (Kennett).
“For a freshman to come out and do what Charlotte did on a difficult course, that’s the sign of a great player,” O’Rourke said. “She pushes herself all year. She will often play from the same tees as the boys, which I think is awesome.”
A total of 25 boys qualified for districts, which will take place on Oct. 9-10 at Turtle Creek. Unionville, West Chester East and Bishop Shanahan – the top runner-up — have all qualified as teams.
“These kids take golf seriously,” O’Rourke pointed out. “The average golfer may pick up a driver on every hole, but these kids are thinking about where they want to be for their second shot, and that’s how you score. Their short games are unbelievable.”
That brings us to Gianelos, who hit 15 greens in regulation, avoided any three-putts and registered four birdies on Tuesday. Starting on the sixth hole, Gianelos moved to the top of the leaderboard with a birdie on the par-5 ninth and added another at the difficult par-4 16th.
“I didn’t make any big mistakes. In the past, I’d shank a chip or three-putt. But (Tuesday) I was very focused,” he said.
“It was a hard day to score, so to shoot two-under is mind-blowing,” O’Rourke added.
“Nick has the makeup to be something special. The best golfers you see, on every level, are people who keep an even head at all times. His temperament is what you look for in every player. I don’t see many flaws in his game at all.”
Gianelos then finished strong. He nearly drove the par-4 first hole for an easy birdie, and then buried a five-foot putt at No. 2 for another.
“It felt nice because the first two years I played here I really struggled,” Gianelos acknowledged. “And last year I missed out winning by one (stroke). I’ve been thinking about it ever since then.”
Unionville boasted four of the top 10 individual finishers, with junior twins Connor (74) and Will Bennick (78) leading the way, along with Ritchie Kline (78). West Chester East had three in the top-10 en route to wrapping up the division crown, with Chew (74), Jack Hamilton (76) and Damon Spatacco (79).
The highlight for Scully, who plays out of Penn Oaks Golf Club, came at the par-4 seventh. Her 80-yard approach shot stopped about three feet from the cup and she converted the birdie putt.
“Since we were playing from the front tees, I expected to shoot in the low 80s,” Scully said. “I did that, so I am pretty happy.
“I never really thought about winning this tournament. But I played well. I had some good putts and chips for some up-and-downs for pars.”
Ches-Mont Golf Championships
Par 72 at Applecross CC
- Unionville 380; 2. West Chester East 393; 3. Bishop Shahanan 417; 3. Downingtown East 417; 5. West Chester Henderson 418; 6. Avon Grove 443; 7. Great Valley 444; 8. Downingtown West 449; 9. Kennett 455; 10. Coatesville 465; 11. West Chester Rustin 468; 12. Octorara 493.
- Gianelos (U) 70; 2. Cole Chew (WCE) 74; (2) C. Bennick (U) 74; 4. Hamilton (WCE) 76; 5. Conners (BS) 77; 6. W. Bennick (U) 78; 6. Ford (DE) 78; 6. Robinson (DW) 78; 6. Kline (U) 78; 10. Spatacco (WCE) 79.
- Scully (U) 84; 2. Amoroso (WCE) 89; 3. Rule (BS) 94; 4. Naringsingh-Smith (K) 96.