Viking golfers finally ready to hit the links

By Kevin Sjoberg, Special to the Aroostook Republican and News

CARIBOU, Maine — Nick Blais enjoys passing along knowledge of a sport he loves and is thrilled to have that opportunity as the new head coach of the Caribou varsity golf team.

With a relatively new squad, the Caribou High School math teacher jumped at the chance to coach the Vikings when he learned of the opening and he took over a group that includes 15 golfers that he said are proving to be “quick learners.”

The team had nine practices before the school went into the “Red Model” for 10 days due to some positive COVID-19 cases. As a result, the team missed out on four scheduled matches, but was able to finally resume practices on Saturday. 

The Vikings were scheduled to compete in their first two matches of the season this week, including one at Caribou Country Club against Bangor and Presque Isle Sept. 8.

“So far the golf team has really demonstrated their passion for the game,” Blais said. “They ask questions and take direction well and it is not uncommon that after practice a lot of the team will go out and play another nine holes.

“They know that playing is the key to improving and they all make it a point to play as often as they can. This breeds some healthy competition, which I’m hoping will translate into a few wins.”

Caribou’s top golfers are sophomore Lars Spooner and freshman Matt Pelletier. 

“Lars is extremely hard-working and is never satisfied with anything but his absolute best,” Blais said. “Matt is a quiet young man with one heck of a golf swing. His club speed far exceeds anyone else’s on the team but his control of the ball is unparalleled.”

Blais’s No. 3 and 4 players are juniors Jacob Walton and Avery Thibodeau.

“These two have worked very hard over the summer to improve their game and they are extremely dedicated to the sport,” said the coach. “Just over the last few weeks, they have both managed to lower their handicaps by at least three or four strokes.”

The Vikings’ next five players (freshmen Ty Hunter and Luke Beidelman and juniors Griffen McNeal, Logan Griffeth and Justin Walton) all have handicaps that are within one stroke of each other. 

“They all consistently shot in the low 50s and we’re hoping by the end of the season we can get them all down into the 40s,” Blais said.

The remainder of the roster includes Dawson Whitten, Alex Belanger, Cameron Belanger, Jayden Fournier and Jeremiah Holmes and freshman Parker Wark.

“We have a young team this year but they are striving to improve everyday,” Blais said. “My main goal this year is to qualify for the [Class B] state competition. I know this is a lofty goal but I believe that if we continue to improve, we have a really good chance to qualify.”

The Class B championship/regional qualifier will take place Sept. 25 at Presque Isle Country Club, with the state championships at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro Oct. 8.

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