ALL-RJ GOLF: Returning underclassmen should make for a tight ’22 leaderboard

MERIDEN — No, you didn’t miss it. A Record-Journal Golfer of the Year was not named this spring. 

That won’t be the case a year from now.

Area teams will return an array of skilled underclassmen, and if none of them were far and away the best this season, it doesn’t take much foresight to see a logjam atop the leaderboard in 2022.

In the meantime, we do have an 2021 All-Record-Journal Team, a team that is co-ed. Three area girls — junior Brooke Zajac of Southington and the Hidalgo sisters, junior Mia and sophomore Sydney, of Cheshire — made this year’s State Open.

So did sophomore A.J. DePaolo, the leading player on the Cheshire boys team.

The Rams and Blue Knights hold all the slots on this year’s All-RJ squad. The two programs had the area’s best stroke averages. Both qualified for the Division I state tournament.

A number of Meriden golfers do warrant Honorable Mention:

■Wilcox Tech seniors Cole Maluszewski and Colin Fletcher were the 1-2 punch in the Tribe’s 8-0 run to the CTC Nutmeg Division title and overall record of 15-4.■Maloney junior Kory London and sophomore teammate Dylan Miller led the 14-3 Spartans to the city title and took turns winning a playoff to cop individual honors. Miller took the city high school medal; London captured the Hunter Men’s Club junior title.■Platt freshman Tyler Cessario was among the area’s leading rookies. The freshman scored four medals and was one stroke off the pace in the city championship.

In Wallingford, Sheehan went 13-3 in SCC Division II and qualified for the Division III Tournament.

The Titans were a collaborative effort. On any given day, they could be led by Anthony DeFilio, Dylan Hennessey, Trevor Held, Drew Dellipoali, Billy Totz, first-year senior captain, Andrew Carey or their freshman phenom, Miss Giada Izzo.

For our All-RJ Team, we go with two foursomes: the Southington quartet of Callan Angelo, Ryan O’Donnell, Devin McKnerney and Brook Zajac and the Cheshire grouping of A.J. DePaolo, Nick Fortunato, Mia Hidalgo and Sydney Hidalgo.

Angelo, a senior, led the Blue Knights through a grueling CCC West schedule by scoring four medals, including with a season-low 37 at Hawks Landing against Hall.

O’Donnell, a sophomore, also shot a 37 at Hawks. He carded an 87 in the Division I state tournament at Tallwood Country Club in Hebron.

McKnerney won or shared two medals, including with a season-low 38 at Hawk’s Landing. McKnerney was one stroke behind O’Donnell in Division I with an 88.

As for Zajac, she tied for fourth with an 84 at the girls Division I tourney at Grassy Hill Country Club. Zajac advanced to the State Open and carded a 91 at the Black Hall Club in Old Lyme.

The Hidalgo sisters were also at the Open. Sydney shot an 87 to tie for eighth, while Mia shot an 89.

Sydney Hidalgo was coming off a tie for sixth (85) in the Division I girls tournament. Mia Hidalgo had been co-medalist at the SCC girls championship with an 83 at Oronoque Country Club, which led the Lady Rams to the conference team title.

Coach John Williams called this year’s 16-1 Cheshire girls team far and away the best he’s had in his tenure. Syndey Hidalgo, with seven medals during the regular season, was named the SCC Girls Golfer of the Year.

As for the Cheshire boys team, DePaolo and Fortunato came to the fore.

DePaolo pocketed medals with rounds of 35 and 38 on Cheshire’s home greens at The Farms Country Club. He went on to shoot a 5-over-par 77 at the Division I state tourney. It was the best area score in the postseason.

The lone area boy to advance to the State Open, DePaolo carded an 80 at Black Hall Club.

Fortunto made All-SCC by placing ninth in the conference championship with an 82 at Grassy Hill. Fortunato shot 82 again in the Division I tournament.

The Rams are fortunate. Fortunato was only a junior this spring. Look for him to be in the R-J Golfer of the Year hunt a year from now.

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