Division II Golf State Championship Cancelled

It was tough to accept the fact that after all the work I put in this summer and after all the work as a team we put in, that we don’t even get a chance,” said Oyster River golf member Jack Poitras (‘22).

The Oyster River golf team’s season ended short, when the state meet was cancelled due to weather conditions on Thursday, October 17th. The championship was scheduled to be at Beaver Meadow Country Club in Concord before the forecast for heavy rain and high winds made the course unplayable. According to the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) rules, the team in first seed after the regular season automatically wins the division state title in the event the championship is cancelled due to poor weather conditions. Oyster River ended the regular season as the third seed team, but Poitras and other players believed they had the best chance to win the Division II state title, with the most momentum leading up to the championship.

The NHIAA policies and procedures includes a Contingency Rain Plan which states, “in the event that the team championship round cannot be played, it would be canceled and the #1 seed of the regular season would be declared the NHIAA Team Champion. In case of a tie for the #1 seed, the Team Champion would be determined by NHIAA Tie-Breaking procedures.” The number 1 seed was a tie between Kennett and Hollis-Brookline. Based on the ratings against tournament opponents, Kennett High School was ultimately announced as the Division II State Champions. This was not how the ORHS golf team intended to end their season.

Members of Oyster River’s golf team and other teams across Division II were dissatisfied with how the season ended. Poitras stated “we hadn’t lost a match in about three weeks and we beat the number one ranked team twice in the last three weeks. They were kind of faltering to the end, and we had the most momentum of anyone in the state.”

Oyster River’s head coach Paul Bamford stated that this is still a sensitive topic for many. “I equate it to Christmas, and all of a sudden they can’t do Christmas. We thought that we had a really good chance to raise the trophy, and not to have that was extremely disappointing.” The Wednesday night when it was cancelled, the team was in the parking lot of the high school and Bamford had to inform them that it was cancelled. He added, “ it was excruciating to me and to all of them. We were all crying and I hugged every one of them. I love every single member of the team and I wanted them to have the opportunity because I believed in them.”

Liam Fillion (‘21), was part of the JV golf team and watched the varsity team throughout the season. “They definitely deserved a chance. They were there every single day. They put in the time and effort to go out on the course and try their best to improve their game. Even in free time, a good amount of them would stay after and practice putting and chipping and hitting off the range, after our practices were done and most people had left.” 

Many of the competing teams, including Kennett, worked together to try and put together an alternate venue. According to Poitras, there were four courses who offered to host. Bamford said that the only reason the NHIAA denied them was because, “the rule was in place, and to override the rule was to be overriding the rulebook. To override the rulebook you have to amend the rulebook, and that takes votes by the executive committee.” Despite that, Bamford was pleased with the support he had from both the principal and the athletic director at ORHS.

Many golf members including Poitras and Fillion believe that NHIAA’s rules against a rain date for the state championship is unfair, not giving the players an opportunity to show what they worked for all season long.

Ty Mountain (‘20) and Jack Poitras (‘22) had the opportunity to represent Oyster River at the 2019 NHIAA Boys Golf Individual Championships at Beaver Meadow Golf Club. Due to the cancellation, each team’s top two individuals had the chance to compete, representing their high school. If the state championship had not been cancelled, then there would have been an opportunity for more than two players from the team to compete. Poitras said that there were at least three or four players who had a chance at placing well enough in the state championship to qualify for the individual championship. Mountain finished 8th, 13 over par (85) and Poitras finished 9th, 14 over par (86).

Bamford thought the team handled their disappointment well. “I’m very proud of them. I think they handled it like anybody else would, or better than anybody else would. They were upset and very disappointed, and rightfully so. But, those are the rules […] and this is the way it is. They have to live with it.”

Featured Image by Greg Poitras

Written by Zak Jones