As the Division I South Sectional golf tournament started winding to a close on Tuesday afternoon, four golfers from both Burr and Burton Academy and Rutland had submitted their scorecards to be counted -- and Rutland led by one stroke.
But as the fifth golfers from both schools, Kyle Boucher for BBA and James Mee for Rutland, walked up the final hill at the Golf Club at Equinox, Boucher had a smirk stretched across his face.
Boucher was about to wrap up shooting a 79 on the day, the fourth lowest score at the sectional, and in turn swing the result from a close win for Rutland to a six-stroke win for BBA, 320-326.
"I was watching as [Boucher] was coming up the hill, and he had a little smirk on his face," said BBA coach Jeff Houghton. "I'm saying 'ok,' I didn't know it was a 79, but I was like 'ok.' Nothing surprises me with these guys. At any given time, somebody is going to pop out a great score, and you just hope the other guys will shoot what they should."
After tying Rutland in the sectional last season then finishing runner-up in the state tournament, the win at Equinox felt that much better.
"We have been after them for a while," said BBA's Hunter Caler, who led the Bulldogs with a 78 along with Drew Herbert. "This is huge for us. Last year at sectionals we tied them, and to beat them means a lot, and it will carry a lot. This is what we have been working toward for the last two years, and to finally see it come full circle is huge.
BBA's fourth scorer was Joey Shehadi, who shot an 85. For Rutland, Drake Hull took the medalist honors with a 74, two strokes lower than Mount Anthony Union High School's Ethan Anderson in second, while Max Major (80), Tristan Stoutes (86) and Jack Slysarczyk (86) rounded out the Raiders' team. MAU finished third with 360, with Logan Ripley (85), Isaac Salem (99) and Ty Galle (100) rounding out the four scorers, and Hartford was last with a team score of 388.
For Caler, the familiarity that he and Boucher share with the course helped, as did the depth of the Bulldogs.
"[Boucher] and I grew up on this course, so we know it well," Caler said. "I was hoping he would do well, and that was huge for the team. That's what our team is, we have five players who, on any given day, can score well."
Houghton also acknowledged how deep his team can be, and noted that was part of the reasoning for switching Boucher to the fifth spot on the team.
"Realistically, our threes, fours and fives all year long have flipped and flopped in terms of scores," Houghton said. "Kyle, the last two outings, hasn't shot well, so we moved him down to five in the order. I was hoping that would sort him out a bit so he could golf better. He is always capable."
Both BBA and Rutland will compete as teams in the state tournament next Wednesday at the Country Club of Vermont, and Anderson will compete individually. Anderson qualified by having one of the five lowest scores on the day.
"I felt solid about my round," Anderson said. "All-around solid besides a few holes, but I was able to come back and score pretty well.
"[The 10th hole] was a good hole for me. I was able to get up-and-down for birdie after a pretty rough score on nine. On [No. 9], I took a tough seven, but then I came back for the birdie and that helped me gain some momentum."
The venue for the state tournament will be the third different course in three years, after Division I left Middlebury's Ralph Myhre Golf Course last year for Woodstock Country Club. In the D-I North Sectional, Essex took first and will be joined at states by St. Johnsbury, CVU and South Burlington.
"From what I've been told, the front nine is totally different from the back nine," said Houghton when asked for his view on the new course. "It is interesting, but we will see. It is supposed to be a nice, challenging course, but it doesn't matter. We will take our chances. We are going, so, we will give it our best shot."