VASSALBORO — Caleb Manuel bogeyed the par-4 11th hole, making him even-par for his round. Armand Ouellette was closing.
“But every time I got within a couple (of shots), he would come back with a big putt,” Ouellette said. “He made a ton of huge putts on the back nine.”
Manuel, a Mt. Ararat senior, successfully defended his Class A golf state championship, shooting a 3-under 69 on a raw, damp Saturday at Natanis Golf Course.
Ouellette, a Thornton Academy senior, placed third with a 73. Portland junior Bennett Berg, playing two groups ahead of Manuel and Ouellette, finished second with a 71.
York senior Tyler Rivers won the Class B title with a 77. The Class C champion, Kents Hill senior Mitch Tarrio, shot a 71 to join Manuel and Berg as the only players under par.
In the girls’ competition, Leavitt teammates Morghan Dutil and Ruby Haylock were co-champions, each with a 75.
Manuel, headed to the University of Connecticut on scholarship, entered as the favorite and came out firing with two birdies. Two bogeys later, however, Manuel was trailing Berg, who was at 1 under, though neither Manuel nor Ouellette knew.
“We don’t have a leaderboard,” Manuel said. “I know Bennett can play, but I was just trying to play my game.”
Manuel faced a 12-footer for birdie on No. 12 and drained it.
“I studied it pretty well,” he said.
The birdies kept coming, on 14 and 15, and Manuel was in the lead.
“I was hitting decent wedge shots, but I was making putts when I needed to,” Manuel said.
Berg stayed close. He birdied 15 with a 25-foot putt, but three-putted 18 for a bogey.
“It was a good round,” Berg said. “I was driving the ball into the fairway almost every hole, and I hit some really good wedges.”
Class B champion Rivers wasn’t thrilled with his round, despite his victory.
“Not really,” he said. “I didn’t get into too much trouble, but it was not great.”
Rivers won by three strokes over teammate Jonathan Donovan and Waterville’s Brandon Bearce, who rebounded from a triple-bogey on his first hole.
“I hit a driver, and I should not have hit a driver. I hit it in the woods,” Bearce said. “But I was feeling good (and came back). It was a good round.”
Tarrio cruised to an eight-stroke win, finally winning the Class C title after placing second the previous three years. Isaac Vega of Houlton and Neil Larochelle of St. Dominic/Lisbon each shot 79.
In the girls’ division, it was a battle between teammates, who both started their round on the back nine. Dutil, a junior, shot an even par-36 with a birdie on No. 12 — hitting a 9-iron to within 3 feet. She scored a 39 on the front nine.
“The conditions weren’t great, but this was the best I’ve ever played,” Dutil said. “I just wasn’t getting into a lot of trouble. I tried to focus on staying in the fairways and hitting greens, and it paid off.”
Haylock, a sophomore, was 4-over through nine holes but slowly crept back. With two holes to play, she was a shot behind Dutil.
“I was really stressed going into the last two holes. I knew Morghan was 3-over and I had to birdie one hole to tie,” Haylock said.
Haylock drove into the fairway on No. 8, and her approach landed 5 feet from the hole. She studied her birdie putt and sank it.
“It broke to the right,” said Haylock, who finished second last year.
Lindsay Cote of Nokomis and Gould Academy’s Mia Wang tied for third at 82.