The Morristown golf team has exploded out to a 12-2 record thus far, winning the West Division title of the recent High Bridge Golf Club tournament championship and finishing fourth overall at last week’s Morris County Tournament at Flanders Valley.
Some of the names on the Colonials’ roster — Mongey, Stambi and Haralampoudis — sound very familiar from years past. However, these are not the same golfers that helped the Colonials capture the overall NJSIAA Group III championship last year.
In fact, it’s their younger brothers.
That’s right, three of the main golfers from last year’s state champions have been replaced by their younger brothers in the Colonials’ rotation.
Senior Jack Mongey has stepped in for older brother James, who was an All Daily Record first-team honoree last year. Junior Steve Strambi has filled in for older brother Matt, a mainstay on the Colonials’ roster for the past two years. Sophomore Luke Haralampoudis has taken the spot left open by graduated Chris, who shot a 79 last year to help the Colonials capture the NJSIAA state sectional championship.
“James was a big influence on me,” Jack Mongey said. “We used to play a lot together growing up. He’s a bit better than me. I’m just trying to be nearly as good as he was. But it was good to have someone to play with and learn from. … There’s a little bit of pressure, because I want to be successful now. I wanted to have a positive season and I think we’re off to a good start.”
Steve Strambi used to spend a lot of time growing up playing with his older brother and his father. Haralampoudis, too, played with his older brother.
“It was a lot of fun,” Strambi said. “I learned a lot from them. I knew that I wanted to come in this year and be as successful as last year’s team. There is a level of excellence that we have to maintain. I’m happy that we’re doing a pretty good job right now.”
Of course, it helps that the other returning player is junior Evan Quinn, one of the top golfers in New Jersey who finished second this past week at the Morris County Championships.
The Colonials will be among the favorites to repeat as NJSIAA sectional champions and possibly the overall Group III title at the Tournament of Champions later this month, but no one is getting ahead of themselves.
“Evan is always going to play well. It’s good to have someone like Evan to keep us going,” Luke Haralampoudis said. “We had our three brothers lead us and now we have to carry the torch.”
Friday was the last day for qualifying for the NJSIAA state sectionals. The last look at the NJSIAA North 2 Group III rankings showed dominance from the local teams, as West Morris, Mendham and Morristown occupy the top three positions. It makes for an interesting day at Darlington on May 11.
Veteran coach Rich Attonito has the Minutemen (9-1) right in the mix. Mendham is led by Joe Goryeb, Colin Peters and Ryle Heraghty, all of whom shot impressive scores of 81 at the MCT, as well as steady leader Nate Biery.
Sectionals will take place on May 11 and 12, with most of the locals hitting the links the first day.
Roxbury, with its 7-2 record and led by MCT champion Nick Axelson, will be battling for North 1 Group III honors. Chatham will be one of the teams to watch at the North 1 and 2 Group II sectional at Rockleigh. Pequannock will try to defend its sectional title at the North 1 and 2 Group I sectional at Bowling Green. The Group IV golfers will play on May 12 at Trump National in Bedminster. Delbarton faces Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco Prep at the Non-Public North sectional at Forest Hill Golf Club in Bloomfield on May 12. The Tournament of Champions is at Hopewell Valley Golf Club on May 18.
Golfer of the Week
Blake DiPaola, West Morris, senior
DiPaola returned to West Morris after a year at a golf academy in Florida and has certainly made his mark. DiPaola fired a round of 77, good for fourth overall at the Morris County Championships. He also shot a 71 to lead West Morris to the East Division championship at the High Bridge Tournament. DiPaola had a nine-hole score of 37 in a win over Morristown, a 35 in a two-stroke win over Roxbury and a 34 in a win over Randolph.