Golf: Mainland Regional 1st, Middle Township 2nd in their South-Central sectional tournaments
The Mainland Regional and Middle Township High School golf teams each assured themselves on Monday of a return trip to next week's Tournament of Champions.
Southern Regional's Jackson Fiel and Vineland's Eric Dargis will each be going for the first time.
The top two teams and top five individuals (with ties) on non-qualifying teams in each sectional tournament Monday qualified for the TOC to be held May 20 at Hopewell Valley Golf Club at 11 a.m.
Mainland, which is ranked No. 1 in The Press Elite 11, won the South-Central Group III title at Running Deer Golf Course in impressive fashion.
Jay Feldman led the Mustangs with a 79 to finish third among individuals. John Petronis, Colin Roche and Henry Jungels each carded 81s to sweep spots 4-5-6, meaning all four would have qualified as individuals had the team not made it.
"I'm very proud of them," Mainland coach Dan Reardon said. "It's always our goal to get to the TOC. We did that, so now our goal is to win Group III in the state and hopefully be in contention for the overall TOC title."
Mainland shot a 322 with Wall Township eight strokes behind in second with a 330. The Mustangs finished second in the sectional last season.
Three-time defending champ Middle Township had to settle for second in South-Central Group II this time around. The Panthers, No. 9 in the Elite 11, were led by David Hicks' and Kevin O'Donnell's top-five finishes.
Hicks, who won the sectional last season as a freshman, finished second with a 77 at Wildwood Golf & Country Club. O'Donnell, who took third with a 78, earned his second straight top-five finish at sectionals.
"It's definitely nice," Hicks said. "The goal this year was to make it as a team. That was the most important thing. Individually, I wanted to play well for the team. It was nice to play a good round along with Kevin. It's nice being able to go up there as a team."
Fiel and Dargis finished second and fifth, respectively, in South-Central Group IV and will each make the trip to the TOC for the first time.
Fiel is the third person from Southern to reach the TOC, joining former standouts Anthony Campanile (2002) and Conner O'Brien (2011).
"It means a lot," Fiel said. "It's a great accomplishment. Just to be up there with those two names means a lot. I just look forward to playing on Monday. I'm going to do what I can do and see how it turns out."
Fiel got off to a hot start (1-under after seven) and finished with a 75 to tie for second (ties settled on match of cards).
Dargis grabbed the last qualifier spot, draining a 20-foot putt on his final hole to finish tied for fourth with a 77.
Dargis started on the 10th hole with his older brother, former Vineland standout Scott Dargis, in his gallery. Dargis double-bogeyed seven and was on the outside looking in with two holes to play.
He made a 15-foot-putt on No. 8 for a par and then drained the 20-footer on the ninth.
"Halfway there, I knew I made it," Dargis said of the putt on No. 9. "When my brother roared, I knew it was something special."
Dargis birdied holes 12, 14 and 17 and said he is excited he will get to play in the TOC for the first time.
"I just have to go out there and play a solid game," Dargis said. "I'm not going to put a number on it or anything. I know if I play a solid game I'll be pretty good."
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