They sat on top of the hill at the 18th hole of the Bethpage Blue golf course, and waited.
And waited. And waited some more. It had been a long, long time since the Port Washington boys golf team had had a season like this.
Not since 1989 had the Vikings won the team county title. But now, as they waited for other golfers to finish their rounds on May 24 at the Nassau County championship, all they could do was watch and hope.
“We were pretty sure that the last golfer from Friends Academy was over par going into 18, and would’ve needed an eagle or something to have us lose,” Port Washington senior James Fabrikant said. “But we didn’t have, like, live scoring or anything so we really didn’t know. It felt like a really long wait, and it was very nerve-wracking.”
When the waiting was over, the Vikings had won, and a championship 34 years in the making had come true.
A week later, Port Washington came through again, beating Suffolk champ Comsewogue/Miller Place, 7-1, to clinch the Long Island crown as well.
“I really thought this could be our year, and the kids were so steady and so poised all season,” said head coach Michael Killoran.
When the spring began, Killoran had a feeling this year just might be different.
“We’ve always had one or two strong golfers at the top of the lineup, but our depth hasn’t always been there, and we’ve had some difficulties,” Killoran said. “But this year, we were strong everywhere in the lineup.”
The Port golfers were led by No.1 Fabrikant and No. 2 Bryce Karty, with Max Baum sliding in at No. 3. Noah Lapter and Ian Mandelbaum were No. 4 and 5 in the lineup, respectively, while eighth-grader Dylan Reyes played at No. 6.
“I think we all knew we had the team to win this year, but playing two days at counties was still going to be tough,” Reyes said. “But we were so motivated to win because it had been a long time.”
After the county crown, Fabrikant said his teammates were motivated to finish the job and prove they had Long Island superiority.
“Counties was the first step but winning in a blowout (at the LIC) was a surprise to us, especially playing on Bethpage Black,” Fabrikant said, referring to one of the toughest golf courses in America.
For Killoran, as exciting as the team win was were the comments from officials and opposing parents at the LI championship.
“I had so many people come up to me and tell me how impressed with how our kids behaved and competed, and how much class they showed,” Killoran said. “This was a special group.”
At the state championships held in Elmira, The Wheatley School’s Joseph Dolezal finished 9th, shooting a pair of 76’s on the Mark Twain course, for a total of 152. Port Washington’s Karty tied for 37th with a two-day score of 161, while Fabrikant tied for 54th with a 165.
On the female side, it was Madison Chen’s season and everyone else was just trying to catch up.
The precociously-talented Indians freshmen dominated the Nassau County meet, shooting an eye-popping 66 on the second day, to win her first individual crown on May 23.
“To play 18 holes, hit every green, and not bogey any hole? That’s absurd!” Manhasset coach Lauren Sadeh said with a laugh. “Just incredible. The best she’s every played.”
“After the first hole on the second day (of counties), I made a birdie and it gave me a lot of confidence and some separation from the rest of the group behind me,” Chen said. “I was able to really play really steady golf.”
Chen said she didn’t truly believe she’d win until making a six-foot birdie put on the 17th hole.
“I saw the ball go in and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I just won, I just won!”
Chen, who’s been playing tournaments since she was 7, said she hopes the county win is “only the beginning,” as she hopes to get a college scholarship from the sport she loves.
“She can drive the ball far, like 250 yards, and she’s got great mechanics,” Sadeh said.
At the state championships June 3-4, Chen improved by one spot on her state appearance last year, finishing 8th with a 10-over 154. It matched the 8th place finish her sister Lauren achieved in 2019. At the Federation meet on June 11, bringing together the top six golfers in private, public and Catholic schools, Chen finished third.
“You can always improve, and I know there are a lot of shots I left out there,” she said. “But I set a goal of winning counties at the start of the year so I was very happy I got to do that.”