By Dom Nicastro
The Saugus High School golf team is off to a 1-2 start but likes its chances to finish .500 and get into the postseason this fall. The standard for golf is different than in other sports in the Bay State, which play under the MIAA postseason rankings system. For golf, it’s .500 and you’re in.
Saugus beat Salem and lost to Peabody, Gloucester and Marblehead. So, they have some catching up to do, but they’re feeling confident.
“Our goal is to be .500,” said third-year Saugus coach John Sievens, who works alongside co-coach Dan Bertrand. “We’re competitive this year. And I’m hopeful that we can be and bring some golf pride back.”
Ryan Jones, senior, Dom Chianca, senior, and Hunter Arsenault, sophomore, led the way for the Sachems against Salem. “They carried our team,” Sievens said.
Jones has been with the team since he was an eighth-grader. He’s been playing very well right out of the gate coming off a season in which he competed in the Northeastern Conference Open. “He’s gained a lot of distance this year,” Sievens said. “He’s learning still, but he’s our number one and he’s also our captain. I would say that he’s a very even-tempered kid who doesn’t have highs and doesn’t have lows. But he’s a wonderful, wonderful student athlete that I love having on our team.”
Chianca, the team’s No. 2, came to Saugus from Malden Catholic and hits the ball a ton. He’s very aggressive, his coach said. “He’s not afraid to challenge a pin,” Sievens said. “He again like most of the kids are learning the game. They’re learning to know when to dial down and not use the driver and when to go with like a hybrid or just a 4-iron so they can put themselves in good position. But he’s been a wonderful addition. He knows all the boys because all the boys on my team play hockey.”
Arsenault is No. 3 and wins a lot of points on the greens. “He will probably most likely be our No. 1 next year,” Sievens said.
Saugus’ No. 4 is Artie Leary, a freshman and an athlete who loves to play anything and do anything for the team. He’s a lacrosse player and a hockey player, and he just came out for golf after he was recruited by Sievens. “He’s turned out to be a great golfer. He enjoys the game,” Sievens said. “He’s not a big hitter. He’s very mellow, a fun kid to have on the team. He crafts a lot of jokes and goofs around a lot. He fit right and is another hockey player.”
The No. 5 spot for the Sachems rotates between Jake Ferraro, a senior, and Breyden Wells, a senior. “It floats back and forth, and they have never really played golf before,” Sievens said. “This is their first year, and they’re learning the game. They’re excited to be on the team, and they’re doing well.”
Sophomore Brayden Verone is in his second year of golf. And he has come so far, the coach said. “He’s come a long way, and he won his first match,” Sievens said. “Last year, I mean he got beat up. He had never really played golf. So, he was getting beat up a lot, but he won his first match against Salem. I was proud of him. Brayden has been for the last two years just a great addition to our team.”
Eighth-graders Drew Ferreira and Jack Cuddy are also learning the game. “Drew is a lefty and has tremendous potential,” Sievens said. “He’s stepped right up and he’s been playing against seniors and juniors the whole year. Jack Cuddy is also full of potential as well.”