LYNN — The St. Mary’s golf team comes into the 2018 season with a bit of a target on its back after winning the Division 3 state title as a team last year. Luckily for coach Jay Fiste, the Spartans are built to fight back.
“We should be very competitive this year for sure,” said Fiste, now in his 10th year as head coach. “Before last year, we (the coaching staff) actually thought that this year would be our big year. We thought we were still one year away. But all the guys played so well down the stretch and the young guys came into their own, and we were able to ride that all the way to a state championship.”
A couple of key figures in that state championship run were Aedan Leydon and Chris Fioravanti, who also happen to be the only two players gone from last year’s title team after graduating this spring. Leydon, a team captain, kept every player focused on the task at hand during the state tournament last year. Meanwhile Fioravanti, the team’s longest hitter last season, fired an even-par 70 in the state final to help the Spartans clinch their championship.
“Both of those guys were a huge part of last year’s team success,” Fiste said. “They both came up big when we needed them most and they’ll be missed.”
But just because those two have left the program doesn’t mean St. Mary’s is hurting for talent. The Spartans’ top three players return to the lineup in 2018, including No. 1 player Christian Emmerich. Now in his senior year, Christian Emmerich is coming off an incredible 12-month stretch of golf. In addition to helping the Spartans win the team state title, Christian Emmerich also won the Division 3 individual state title last season. He took that momentum right into the summer, where he won six tournaments including his second straight Kernwood Country Club Championship and the Bay State Cup Invitational. He also made it to the semifinal round of the Massachusetts Junior Amateur, and he’s now on the radar of several Division I college golf programs.
“Christian is coming off of an unbelievable summer,” Fiste said. “He was our main guy last year and he’ll continue to be our top player this season. He’s got all the tools necessary to take home another individual title and to help lead our team back to the state tournament.”
Rounding out the top three players for St. Mary’s this year are Christian’s younger brother, Aidan Emmerich, a freshman, and sophomore Luke Smith.
“To be honest, I expect those three, our top three guys, to be just as good if not better than every other team’s top three in the state,” Fiste said. “Our top group is incredibly talented and all of them have deep tournament experience now, so I’ve got a lot of confidence in those guys.”
The Spartans have been working through sorting out the bottom half of the varsity lineup during the preseason with a series of tryouts, trying to pare down the team to 12 players.
They open the season Wednesday afternoon against Matignon at Newton Commonwealth Golf Course. The Spartans will have their home opener Thursday against Cardinal Spellman at Gannon Golf Course.
“All the guys are very excited to get the new season underway,” Fiste said. “As long as we stay focused on our goals and keep grinding every day, there’s no reason why we can’t have another great year this season.”