On a warm Monday morning, Christian Brothers Academy boys golf junior Jack Bellardini teed off at Cornell University’s course in Ithaca in hot pursuit of a state championship.
And though Bellardini didn’t quite get to the top, he did post the best finish among the nine individual Section III golfers in the tournament, including Fayetteville-Manlius teammates Mike Lee and Jack Santaro.
Bellardini put himself in contention during the June 1 opening round, where windy conditions assured that no one would break par on the Robert Trent Jones-designed Cornell layout.
Teeing off on the 10th hole, Bellardini bogeyed that hole, but followed with eight consecutive pars to turn in 37. Bogeys on four of the next five holes followed before Bellardini posted his lone birdie on the 8th hole, his 17th of the day.
By finishing at five-over-par 76, Bellardini found himself in a tie for eighth place after 18 holes, just three shots behind the quartet of Pittsford Mendon teammates Will Thomson and Gunnar Doyle, along with Pittsford Sutherland’s Jack Gianniny and Shenendehowa’s Kyle Mathews.
In fact, several Section III golfers were in state title contention. Joe Petrin (Cicero-North Syracuse), who shot a 75, was tied for sixth, two shots back. New Hartford’s Tom Mandel (78), Baldwinsville’s Christian Nizamis and Frankfort-Schuyler’s Dante Migliore (79 each) all lurked, too.
Meanwhile, Santaro and Lee both shot matching totals of 83, leaving them tied for 48th, exactly in the middle of the 99-golfer field as they all headed toward the final round.
As he went off in the fourth-to-last group from the 1st tee, Bellardini started well, with birdies on 1 and 3 that got him to two over par, near the top of the leaderboard. But he played the rest of the front nine in five over, including a double bogey on 6, to turn in 38.