Notre Dame’s Michael Martel and Denis Morris’ Ben Hebert carded 77s at Twenty Valley to top the boys division at the Niagara Catholic Athletic Association golf tournament.

Blessed Trinity’s Mya Mackey topped the girls division with a 99 and Blessed Trinity (Cole Thompson 78, Caleb Shorthouse 80, Hudson Mielko 81, John Kingdon 82, Ben Kelly 82) won the boys team title.

Boys co-champ Ben Hebert

As a Grade 9 student at Denis Morris in 2019, Ben Hebert was low man on his team at the NCAA golf championships helping Denis Morris advance to the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association championships.

On Friday, he took the next step, tying Martel for low medalist honours. The 16-year-old Thorold resident came in to the tournament on a high after finishing fourth overall this past summer in the under-19 division of the Niagara Junior Golf Tour.

“I definitely felt that I could have been better,” the Lookout Point member said. “I had a strong set of rounds but some people just had better days at those tournaments.”

He was pleased with how his game developed this summer.

“I didn’t win any tournaments but I had some really good rounds and I shot my personal best at Willodell. I shot 69 so I was happy with that,” he said. “I have been working with my coach, Travis Glass, and he has really helped me the last few years to become the golfer that I am today.”

Hebert is planning to do winter training with Glass.

“We are going to work on swing speed and trying to hit the ball farther so we are ready for the upcoming season,” he said. “I need to improve everything. I could definitely work on my putting and I am really looking to fine-tune my game so I am ready for the upcoming Golf Ontario season.”

He is also planning to compete in some American Junior Golf Association events.

“I am looking forward to playing well in them because I know those are the ones that the college scouts are looking to find good players at.”

Hebert won the junior boys championship at Lookout Point and was scheduled to play in Saturday’s 72nd Annual Walt McCollum Niagara District Champion of Champions golf tournament at Niagara National Golf and Country but the tournament was postponed because of wet conditions.

“I was really looking forward to playing well that day and I had a lot friends playing as well. But I understand if the weather calls for it to be moved, that’s just the way it is.”

Playing at Twenty Valley would have been good practice for that event.

“It was pretty wet but the greens were quite dry and they were rolling pretty well,” he said. “It was lift, clean and place so we had that going for us.”

Boys co-champ Michael Martel

Michael Martel’s first round of high school golf was definitely interesting, the Grade 10 student at Notre Dame said.

“The first five holes were a rocky start and then I was even from then on.”

Nerves weren’t the issue.

“I didn’t come in thinking this was a big tournament,” the 15-year-old Fonthill resident said. “When I am playing [Golf Association of Ontario] it is a different story. It was exciting to play because I haven’t played a tournament in over a month.”

He blamed the layoff for his slow start.

“It is difficult to transition back into it after being away from it for so long,” he said.

Martel finished second overall in the under-19 boys division on the Niagara Junior Golf Tour this past summer and won two events.

“At the beginning, I had a lot to work on,” he said. “It was nice gaining the distance I gained over the winter but I was working on accuracy over all other things. And I feel my short game got a lot better,” he said.

That short game continues to be a work in progress.

“I need to work on my short game a lot more,” he said. “Today that was a struggle and it took me almost nine holes to figure out the greens. I have to keep working hard and I will get there.”

To further sharpen his game this winner, Martel will be training multiple times a week at John White’s training facility at Brock Golf.

“Eventually the goal is to go to a Division 1 school and that has been the ultimate goal since I started playing.”

Girls champ Mya Mackey

After winning the individual girls title at the NCAA golf championship, Mya Mackey had words of warning for Blessed Trinity coach and NCAA golf convenor Mark Mazzetti.

“If you put my score in the announcements, I will find you,” the 16-year-old Grimsby resident said with a laugh. “I actually golfed a lot since I was in Grade 7 and my scores were in the low 80s but then I took a year off and now they are really high. I need to get back to the lower scores before we put them out there.”

The Grade 11 student played on the Niagara Junior Tour for a couple of years but decided to step away from the game.

“I wasn’t getting along with some of the kids and I golfed every day for years,” she said. “I needed a little break and I thought this year would be the perfect time to do it because I wasn’t too far into high school and I could get back into it this year.”

The time off seemed to have recharged her passion for the game.

“I came out today and I just loved it,” she said.

Coach Mazzetti encouraged her to try out.

“I went out with the team last week and it was ‘Yeah. This is the place I want to be.’ I had played once before with my mom and friend but other than that, I hadn’t golfed at all this summer.”

She is looking forward to getting back into playing tournaments starting with the SOSSA tournament Oct. 4.

Other boys teams advancing to the SOSSA Oct. 4 at Twenty Valley were Denis Morris (Hebert, Anthony Sartor 79, Christian Rotundo 90, Andrew Burciul 92, Declan Whittard 97) and Notre Dame (Michael Martel 77, Michael Abdelmaksoud 91, Jeremy Narvaez 92, Nicholas Obdeyn 96, Jacob Gaspari 98).

Individual players advancing to SOSSA on the boys side were Saint Michael’s Alec Linton (82), Saint Francis’ Matthew Hitchcock (84) and Saint Francis’ Sammy Rootes (86).

Other girls advancing to SOSSA were Blessed Trinity’s Maddison Wickman (107) and Denis Morris’ Alexis Alderson (115).