By: Richard L. Smith
Holy Angels' golfers capped an exceptional season by earning the Academy's first state title in this sport.
AHA officials said golfers who participated in the May 16 tournament at Raritan Valley Golf Course included senior Amelia Shen of Demarest; sophomores Sharanya Agarwal of West New York, Inha Jun of Edgewater, and Angelina Kim of Tenafly; and ninth grader Olivia Lee of Closter.
The Angels' score of 325 was 14 strokes better than their next closest competitor, Bergen Tech. Angelina Kim led the squad with a score of 80.
"All of the Angels in the program, past and present, are part of this victory," said AHA Varsity Golf Coach Patrick Dunne. "They were quietly confident," he said of his state champs.
Dunne is pleased with the state championship and the team's second undefeated season (14-0 in 2022 and 2023) but shared that he never takes anything for granted going into a match.
"If a team plays better than you do, there's nothing you can do. You can't play defense," he noted.
This is also AHA's second consecutive triple crown, an elusive honor that involves winning division, league (Big North Championship), and Bergen County titles.
"They won by a convincing margin every time," Dunne said.
In 2022 and again in 2023, the Angels won the State Sectionals. This year, the team scored 307, head and shoulders above Bergen Tech, which finished second with a score of 331.
Inha Jun finished first overall with a score of 73. Angelina Kim shot a 75, which earned her a second-place finish. SharanyaAgarwal completed the event in sixth place with a score of 79.
While only five players from each team participated in the tournaments, several varsity golfers propelled AHA to the state championship. Varsity golfers include Faith Youn, Serin Hwang, Christine Hur, Reese Orlofsky, Alice Lee, Sidney Chung, and Emma Bang.
The junior varsity squad includes Anna Donnely, Haedyn Brigati, Regan Garrity, Eva Jurcevic, Emily Kim, and Jane Langan.
This year's sparkling season confirms the strength of the 2022 Angel team, which achieved AHA's first undefeated season and the triple crown. In fact, Coach Dunne's teams have remained competitive throughout his two-plus decades at the helm.
AHA officials said over the years, the Angels have won the Big North, earned several division titles, and made several trips to the state finals. Some of Dunne's teams with stars like Kelly Sim (who won three individual state titles), Erica Repetto, Terry Ra, Meredith Dwyer, Sam Han, Kirstyn Barsola, and others significantly contributed to AHA's program.
"Once you're successful, it breeds success," he observed.
Hours after earning the title, Sharanya Agarwal said, "I just wanted to say that I am incredibly proud of our team for winning the state finals and for coming all this way. I am excited to see what we do next year. This season was an incredible experience."
Inha Jun, who had just completed her second season as an AHA golfer, observed that the team members bonded quickly and encouraged each other to be positive and patient.
"We all had outstanding and balanced performances from every teammate, with each person stepping up to her game when we needed one another," Jun shared. "Looking back at how far we've come, we are motivated to play even better for the coming years."
Team member Amelia Shen added, "This season, I knew we had a good chance at being undefeated again and placing well in our tournaments. I am so happy that we could win all of our matches, set a new record of 147, and pull through at Arcola, Big North, Counties, State Sectionals, and finally, States. Given the nature of golf, it is not easy to always do well, but I am grateful everyone on the team was always able to pick each other up.
Especially being a senior, I am also thankful we were able to do this and win states for the first time in school history. Being on the AHA Golf Team is something I will never forget. I also want to thank Mr. Dunne for being a great coach.
Holy Angel's golf would never be the same without him!"