MASSENA — Before practice earlier this week Massena golf coach Mike Matejcik received a text from two-time All-Northern Athletic Conference selection and senior Jake Amo.
The text message didn’t surprise him one bit.
“Jake texted me and said that he would like to play with some of our younger guys so he could help them with some of the new rules which will be in effect this year,” Matejcik said.
“That is just the way Jake is. He is a great leader and one of the players which I trust the most. He knows that we are going to have a young team this year and we will need our young players to come along.”
Amo, fellow senior Terrell Thomas and junior Nick Linstad are the only players returning from last year’s team that overcame two regular-match losses to undefeated Ogdensburg Free Academy to win the Section 10 Division I and Overall Section 10 Championships at the Malone Country Club.
The Raiders were led by rounds of 80 from Amo and Thomas. Thomas came on to win the individual title in the medalist round and Amo secured the sixth spot on the Section 10 state tournament contingent.
“We had one of those days when everyone played to their ability or better. It was just a great performance,” Matejcik said.
Amo looks to play a major role as the Raiders try to repeat as they will host this season’s Section 10 Championships.
He believes that a vital part of his role will be mentoring some of the young players on the Raider squad.
“When I was a freshman, one of the seniors on the team, Kendrick Swamp, really helped me a great deal,” Amo said.
“We have some young guys who are going to be good and I want to help them along. Hosting the championships in my senior year is awesome and I want us to do well. But we know it will tough, we will face some very tough teams.”
Amo has lived right across the road from the Massena Golf and Country Club all his life but never made the short trip to take up the game seriously until he was in seventh grade. He approached it with the same intensity and athleticism he has shown on the ice as a hockey player for Massenal and the Charland, Ontario, Junior B team.
“My mom encouraged me to play golf because she thought it was be a very positive atmosphere for me,” Amo said.
Christine Amo’s intuition proved to be dead center in the fairway.
“I liked golf right away because it is so personal. It is you against the course,” said Amo, who progressed quickly from a relatively late start in the sport.
He began playing for the Massena as an eighth grader and has made the state tournament twice. He also plays as the junior representative for the Massena Golf and Country Club in tournaments and for the past two summers he has competed in the Central New York Junior Golf Trail.
Next year he plans to start his collegiate playing career with SUNY Canton.
“Playing in the Central New York tour has really helped me because the competition is so good,” Amo said. “I think my biggest improvement has been in the mental aspects of the game. I am really looking forward to playing in college.”
But first he is looking forward to playing his final high season with fellow senior Thomas, who was just cleared by his doctor to begin practicing after dealing with illness.
“Terrell started practicing today and it was great to have him back,” said Amo on Tuesday. “He was looking good and that will definitely be a big plus for us.”
Parity was a watchword in both Division I and Division II last season and several All-NAC performers are returning led by Division I MVP Jake VanHouse of OFA and Division II MVP Adam Szlamczynski of Clifton-Fine.
OFA went 10-0 in Division I last season followed by Massena and Madrid-Waddington at 7-3. Other returning All-NAC Division I selections are: Drew Mills and Kelson Hooper of OFA, Jake Amo and Terrell Thomas of Massena, Lucas Ryan of M-W, Dylan Farr of Gouverneur and Matt Delisle of Malone.
Clifton-Fine went 9-1 to lead Division II followed by Norwood-Norfolk and Salmon River 8-3. Both races are expected to be very close this season. Trent Tatom and St. Lawrence Central student athletes Jacob Dutch and Jace Dutch give Norwood-Norfolk three All-NAC Division performers.