Thursday, May 23, 2024

Driving to Elmira

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Dunkirk’s Robert Kozlowski tees off at the Section VI Golf Championships at Bartlett Country Club in Olean on Monday. Kozlowski qualified for the state tournament at Mark Twain Golf Course in Elmira from June 1-3.
OBSERVER Photo by Tim Frank

OLEAN — Two members of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association will be making a trip to Elmira in a couple weeks, courtesy of their performances in the Section VI Golf Championship at Bartlett Country Club on Monday.

Junior Evan Steffen of Maple Grove was the medalist in the field of 75, shooting a 27-hole score of 113, while senior Robert Kozlowski of Dunkirk finished in a tie for fifth with a 118. The duo will join seven other Section VI golfers and a first alternate at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championship June 1-3 at Mark Twain Golf Course.

If both Steffen and Kozlowski continue to play as they have of late, well, anything is possible once they reach Elmira.

“It’s awesome,” Maple Grove coach Justin Hanft said of Steffen. “It couldn’t happen to a better kid. He puts the time in and is just a student of the game. He’s passionate about it, and lives and breathes it every single day.”

Steffen, the first Red Dragon to qualify for the states since Wil Lockwood in 2013, was tied for third after shooting a 77 on the first 18 holes.

Maple Grove’s Evan Steffen shot a 27-hole score of 113 for medalist honors at the Section VI Golf Championship at Bartlett Country Club in Olean on Monday.
OBSERVER Photo by Tim Frank

“I wouldn’t say he struggled, but on the second nine he had back-to-back bogeys on 10 and 11, parred 12, bogeyed 13, and then that’s when he started to turn it on,” Hanft said. “He birdied 14 and 17.”

On the final nine — Bartlett CC’s back nine — he fired a 1-over 36.

“Overall he was extremely consistent,” Hanft said. “He limited the damage on the couple holes he struggled. He got off the tee really well, especially the last 18 holes. Even when he was in trouble, he took his medicine and continued to play his game.”

Meanwhile, Dunkirk coach Adam Wolfley said Kozlowski is “going out with a bang” after shooting a 77 on the first 18 and a 41 on the third nine which placed him in a tie for fifth.

Last year, Kozlowski was an alternate, just missing out on a trip to states.

Fredonia’s Grant Abbey watches his tee shot during the Section VI Golf Championship at Bartlett Country on Monday in Olean.
OBSERVER Photo by Tim Frank

“I think he’s just relieved,” Wolfley said. ” … The greens were incredibly fast and hard to read, and he did a very good job scrambling to get himself in position to save bogey in a couple spots.”

The trip to states caps a six-year varsity career for Kozlowski, who recently announced his commitment to Mercyhurst University where he will continue his golf and academic career beginning this fall.

“Two years ago, he didn’t make the cut for the final nine (holes at sectionals),” Wolfley said, “and he was putting on the (practice) green for two hours (after).”

For both Steffen and Kozlowski, practice has made perfect in 2024.

Now it’s on to Elmira.

Chautauqua Lake/Westfield’s Carson Swanson watches his tee shot during the Section VI Golf Championship at Bartlett Country on Monday in Olean.
OBSERVER Photo by Tim Frank

NOTES: Following are the players who will make up the Section VI team at Mark Twain Golf Course:

Evan Steffen Maple Grove 77-36-113

Garrett Senfield Orchard Park 81-34-115

Tyler Delisant Will. East 74-42-116

Adam Cichowski Iroquois 76-40-116

Robert Kozlowski Dunkirk 77-41-118

Landon Arnold Orchard Park 79-39-118

David Brooks Clarence 80-38-118

Enzo Clerici Jamestown 80-40-120

Ben Northman Orchard Park 82-38-120

* Tyler Grimm Starpoint 79-42-121

* First alternate


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