MPH’s Gruninger wins at boys golf sectional state qualifier
With each week, and each title he gains, Manlius-Pebble Hill boys golfer Johnny Gruninger only adds to his reputation, one he hoped will translate into a New York State Public High School Athletic Association title this weekend.
Gruninger earned his place in the field at Cornell University’s Robert Trent Jones course in Ithaca with a victory in the Section III state qualifier held last week at Seven Oaks in Hamilton.
And what made it more special was that Gruninger’s teammate, Grant Lewis, would also advance, meaning that the Trojans would be the lone Section III team with two golfers in the state tournament field.
As if all that wasn’t enough, East Syracuse Minoa’s Ian Rivers and Fayetteville-Manlius’ Adam Butch earned the final two spots on the sectional team headed for Cornell, beating out Jamesville-DeWitt’s Peter Hatton, who nearly reached the state tournament in two individual sports in the same season, a rare feat.
This tournament united spring season qualifiers such as Gruninger and Grant Lewis, plus the sectional champions from Bishop Grimes, with fall season qualifiers from the large schools.
Gruninger went out in front in the opening round with an even-par 72, two shots ahead of Nick Bove (West Genesee) and four shots ahead of Shawn Colella (Marcellus) at the midway point.
Lewis, meanwhile, joined Hatton in a tie for sixth place at 79, made more remarkable by the fact that Hatton, that very same day, was earning a berth in the state boys tennis tournament in singles. Hatton’s teammate, Punn Chittaralert, was alone in 12th place with an 82.
Two golfers from F-M survived the opening round, too, as Butch shot an 80 and freshman Velton Perry made the cut on the number with an 84, while Rivers posted an 83.
The drama in the final round was twofold – who would finish on top, and who would earn the last spots in the state tournament field.
Gruninger shot a two-over-par 74, while Bove, with a 72, caught him. Though both finished at 146, a comparison of Cards gave Gruninger medalist honors without a playoff, since both were heading for the state tournament.
Lewis maintained his poise, too, and with a second consecutive 79, he finished alone in seventh place at 158, three shots above the cut line, where three local golfers would battle it out for two spots.
Shooting a 78, Rivers finished at 161, which helped him catch Butch, who shot an 81, and Hatton, whose 82 left him also at 161.
The three golfers headed to a playoff, and it was Rivers and Butch prevailing over Hatton, the pair joining Gruninger, Lewis, Bove, Colella, Max Dec (Baldwinsville) and Ty Jones (Sknaeateles) on the state tournament team.
Further back, Perry shot a second consecutive 84 to finish at 168, while Chittaralert had an 88 to finish at 170.
F-M’s Mike Millimaci and Andrew Heyman, Bishop Grimes’ Anthony Falgiatano, Connor Alexander, Louis Pelose and Ben Schultz. J-D’s Tanner Burns and Max Schulman missed the 18-hole cut, as did three golfers from Christian Brothers Academy, Joe Nicholson, Peter Scuderi and Chris Bushnell.