MHS's Erika (left) and Vertti Hamalainen. (MONTCLAIR GOLF TEAM)
MHS’s Erika (left) and Vertti Hamalainen. (MONTCLAIR GOLF TEAM)

The Montclair golf team made moves up the ladder in the county this past season with sights set on next spring to make bigger strides.

While the Mounties finished near the bottom of the Super Essex Conference top division, the American, during the regular season, they were able to pull out a third-place finish at the Essex County Tournament on May 3 only behind the county winner Newark Academy and Seton Hall Prep.

“Our team goal was to improve in the county tournament this year,” said Montclair head coach Taryn Schnell.  “We went from fifth place last year to third place this year… The team shot really low scores that day and took advantage of the short course.”

Overall, Montclair finished with a 9-8 record, but six of the eight defeats were by 10 or fewer strokes.

Schnell believes that the close matches this past spring will turn into their favor in 2024.

“I was happy with our overall success being that we compete in the toughest division in the conference,” said the Montclair head coach. “We had some tight matches within the division that we lost by a few strokes. I think with more experience and depth next year, we will win more matches within our division. Ultimately, I am proud of the teamwork we displayed throughout the course of the season and look forward to next year.”

For Schnell she can point to an upset victory over Millburn, who finished above them in the regular season standings (fourth to the Mounties fifth place), as the match that her team really had their clubs on fire. Montclair would take the match, 160-169 (lower score wins).

The young Montclair High School golf team finished with a 9-8 record and third in the Essex County Tournament. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MONTCLAIR HIGH SCHOOL GOLF TEAM)
The young Montclair High School golf team finished with a 9-8 record and third in the Essex County Tournament. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MONTCLAIR HIGH SCHOOL GOLF TEAM)

“We played away at Canoe Brook Country Club and Millburn was undefeated at the time,” the Montclair coach explained. “Millburn was a top contender in the division, this was a huge upset victory.”

In that victory, one of the top freshmen in the county, Montclair’s Vertti Hamalainen, had the best score of the day with a 33, four under par.

“Vertti is not only an exceptional golfer, but an amazing teammate and kid. He put in a lot of time on his own practicing and improving his game to compete at a higher level. Vertti is a very mature and dedicated teammate, I am excited to see what the future holds for him.”

In the county tournament junior Felix Hoerrner finished eighth overall of the individual golfers with a score of 75 in the 18-hole event. For the season Hoerrner improved his overall game with a score of 39 in nine holes over the 41.77 average last season.

“Felix put a lot of time and effort into his golf game this year,” Schnell said. “Felix was constantly putting in extra work after practice at the putting green and driving range on his own time. I am really proud of his efforts.”

And for the Mounties, junior Peppi (Erika) Hamalainen, the sister of Vertti, was the third best golfer at the county meet with an 80, good for 20th in Essex County. “Erika was an excellent team player this season,” said Schnell. “What I love most about Erika is her positivity and attitude. She continues to put her best foot forward for the sake of the team.”

Montclair was also helped this spring by other golfers including sophomore Jude Pepper and senior Liam Kearns who finished 24th and 35th respectively in the county meet with scores of 82 and 87 respectively. 


Edward Kensick writes sports, news and features for Montclair Local.