Matt van Niekerk anchors the squad, earning medalist honors in each match this fall

Rochester, N.Y. — Tony Tepedino always had fond memories of coaching the Harley-Allendale Columbia junior varsity boys golf team. Personal reasons forced Tepedino to step aside though.

The desire to coach never left though. Tepedino has not only earned his chance to resume his coaching career this fall, but he is helping to keep one of the Finger Lakes’ best golf programs on top of the standings for another season.

The H-AC boys golf team entered this week 6-1 overall, battling with Honeoye for the top spot in the Finger Lakes West. The Wolves are back in action at 4:15 p.m. Thursday when they host South Seneca/Romulus at Eagle Vale.

“I was familiar some of the guys and I knew some of them because I teach at Allendale Columbia,” Tepedino said. “I knew that they were going to be competitive, I thought it would be a lot of fun. They are a  nice group of kids who work well together.”

H-AC boasts far more experience than their Finger Lakes West counterparts as six of their seven players are upper classmen. Eighth grader Nate Morse is in his second season on varsity.

Senior Matt van Niekerk anchors the squad, earning medalist honors in each match this fall. van Niekerk entered this week with a 36.17 scoring average for the fall.

Davey Jarrell and Will Hampson often battle for second on the team, to join van Niekerek and Morse in a strong top four for the Wolves.

“We have all played together for a while, we know what to expect of our teammates and of ourselves,” said Hampson, a junior at Allendale Columbia. “We keep it fun and we get along really well.”

van Niekerk entered the fall with plenty of unfinished business following a disappointing ending to his junior year.

The Allendale Columbia senior nearly won a state title in his sophomore year, losing to Pittsford Mendon’s Gavin Hall by one shot. van Niekerk’s road to a redemption at states didn’t get started last spring as he failed to qualify for the tournament.

van Niekerk’s game appears to be back to where it was before last spring when his swing was being overhauled.

“I think we want to win every match that we play,” said van Niekerk, who has won the Finger Lakes Golf Championship the last two seasons. “Our biggest challenge is the match that was suspended (against Honeoye). This is the one that is going to clinch it for us. If we could show them that our team is better that would be huge for us going into the spring.”

If the Wolves can defeat Honeoye in their suspended match, it would tie them for the top spot in the Finger Lakes West. A tie would give both teams a berth into the Section 5 team championships in the spring.

H-AC has played in the tournament the last two seasons.

“We have the ability to be there and I think we could be competitive,” Tepedino said. “We think we have the potential to win.”

The Wolves and Bulldogs each face an unusual challenge in the spring, as they will not know who can play during the Section 5 team and individual tournaments. While most of the leagues in Section 5, including the Monroe County league, play boys golf in the spring, the Finger Lakes is one of the few where the players compete in the fall.

Several H-AC players, including Hampson and Jarrell, compete on spring teams. Neither player is disappointed with the current arrangement.

“It is hard for people like me and Will who don’t really play during the winter to get our games going for the spring,” Jarrell said. “We are lucky to get out before the spring tournaments.”

[Source: Brighton-Pittsford Post]