The Lo-Ellen Park Knights will be bringing a one-two punch and then some to the OFSAA Boys Golf Championship in Bolton next week.
Johnny Svalina and Ethan Mulligan secured the top two spots at the NOSSA playdowns two weeks ago, just as they had at the city championships.
This time around, the order was reversed for the Lo-Ellen tandem as Svalina edged Mulligan by two strokes, with Sudbury golfers Jake Dubowsky (St Ben's - 76), Griffin Jones (LOE - 78), Nik Harry (LOE - 79), Atom Thususka (LCS - 79) and Ben Hickey (Sacre-Coeur - 79) just a little further off the pace.
"When we go to a team event, we're really not focused on beating anyone on our team," suggested Svalina. "We're just trying to do our best to help our team win. Obviously I'm happy to finish first, but especially happy that we won as a team and are heading to OFSAA."
Mulligan held the advantage through the opening nine, with Svalina making up ground later in the round. "I was able to have a really good back nine and then hold on for the last three or four holes," he said.
The event was hosted at the Stoneridge Golf Course in Elliot Lake, which might not enjoy the same popularity as other courses between Sudbury and Sault Ste Marie, but still earned a big thumbs up from the golfers.
"It's kind of a hidden gem out there," said Svalina. "We were all very pleased with the layout of the course and what kind of shape it was in. We were just trying to hit the right line; hit driver and give ourselves a lot of looks at birdies."
"And we were able to make some putts."
Finishing 37 shots clear of the second place Lockerby Vikings, the Knights quartet of Svalina, Mulligan, Jones and Harry are an optimistic bunch heading to tackle OFSAA and the Glen Eagle Golf Course, even if Sudbury success, historically, has been limited at the event.
"It's definitely very competitive," said Mulligan, who attended the 2019 championship with Mulligan and current Wagner College (Staten Island, NY) sophomore Josh Hayes.
"We know that it we play our best golf on any given day that we can give ourselves a chance to win," added Mulligan, who is also keenly aware of the environmental challenges that exist for the mid-October tournament.
"Preparation is key, not only with the golf course, but also with what you're wearing and what you bring," he said. "It can get really cold out there and the moment your hands freeze up, you're done."
As for the girls division, Lockerby freshman sensation Lea Lemieux added a NOSSA title to her city crown, shooting a round of 82 and leading the Open Division northern brigade.
With girls golf now including a "high-school division" (more recreational) in line with the "Festival" format of their playdowns, both Zoe Asselin (Notre-Dame - 102) and Julia Hayes (Lo-Ellen - 107) will join Tori Jarmovitch of Elliot Lake (106) in representing NOSSA in Fenwick.