Golf is very much a sport with a present and future at both New Milford and Shepaug Valley high schools.
The 2012 season has, to date, been a memorable one for the Green Wave and Spartans.
Coach Jim Mullin's remarkably well balanced New Milford links crew owned a 13-2 record Tuesday as it headed to Oronoque County Club in Stratford to challenge host Bunnell in the Green Wave's regular-season finale.
The Green Wave has been led all spring by senior Charlie Maizel and junior Tim Mondonedo, frequent visitors to the 30s for their nine-hole matches at Candlewood Valley Country Club and other area courses.
Seniors Connor Case, Dylan Harris, Nick Jimenez and Karl Lindberg, junior Sandro Leite Jr. and sophomore Cole Case are among those who have contributed their improving skills to the New Milford cause.
Coach Mullin and Company won their first six matches, mostly by comfortable margins, before bowing April 23 to talented Pomperaug at Heritage Village in Southbury.
Weston outplayed the Green Wave two days later at Candlewood, but since, the New Milford golfers have strung together seven straight wins.
Four times during a two-week stretch the Green Wave broke 160 for its best four nine-hole scores.
When New Milford stepped outside the South-West Conference to play neighboring Shepaug, the Green Wave rode its superior balance twice to victory.
An early season duel April 17 at Lake Waramaug Country Club resulted in a 160-183 win for the New Milford squad as Charlie Maizel fired a two-over par 37 and Tim Mondonedo chipped with a 39.
The Spartans' Mia Landegren, a junior who won last spring's New England girls' title, countered with a 39, but received little support that day.
When the two teams got together again May 16 at Candlewood, coach Mullin's Green Wave put together its best round of the spring to emerge on top, 151-169 (see photos).
New Milford's Sandro Leite Jr. rode an eagle on the par-five 1st hole to a 36, Cole Case shot 37 and Charlie Maizel and Tim Mondonedo added respective 39s.
Erik Meglio countered with a 37, Landegren carded 39 and Shepaug frosh Griffin Ylagan contributed 44.
The Spartans have proven the surprise of the Berkshire League this spring, taking a giant step forward from the 5-13 ledger of 2011.
"We are now right where I thought we had the potential to be," said coach Ciarlo. "I took some ribbing from the other league coaches about my bold pre-season prediction of finishing no worse then second."
"But I stood by my prediction," he chuckled, "because I knew what I had (and) they didn't."
What the Spartans have is a potent 1-2 punch of Landegren and Meglio, who has several times matched or bettered his more accomplished teammate for medalist honors in the mid to upper 30s.
Landegren has averaged a steady 38.3 this spring, and would have entered the Berkshire League tournament and state tournament as a strong contender.
She will, however, be competing for the next week-plus with the Swedish junior national team.
Landegren and Megio have proven the backbone of the Spartan lineup, but junior Spencer Ylagan and brother Griffin teamed Monday with the Spartans' 1-2 to fire a solid 161 at Crestbrook Park in Watertown.
Spencer has shown flashes of form, breaking 40 for the first time Monday with a 39 to complement Landegren's even-par 35, while Griffin has consistently been in the low to mid-40s during his first Shepaug golf campaign.
"All in all a very exciting season for us," said coach Ciarlo.
"I'm proud of the way they have come together as a team," he concluded, "because realistically the only returning members were Mia and Spencer."
The Green Wave is gearing up for the SWC tournament next week at Ridgewood Country Club in Danbury and a possible state tournament appearance. The Spartans will compete Tuesday in the Berkshire tournament at Fairview Farm in Harwinton and then head to the states, albeit without Landegren.
Both local squads were expected Thursday to send two-player tandems to the prestigious Chappa Memorial tournament at the Longshore Club in Westport.
For more photos, check www.newmilfordspectrum.com.