By BRIAN CUNNIFF
The Lower Cape May Regional and Middle Township high school golf teams experienced a rather long, but rewarding, day on Wednesday.
The two clubs competed in the 18-hole South-Central Jersey Group I championship match hours away at Cream Ridge Golf Course in Upper Freehold Township in the morning and early afternoon. Later, after traveling 1 ½ hours back to Cape May County, the teams competed against one another in the late afternoon at Cape May National Golf Club for the Paul Yerk Cup.
Lower Cape May finished a solid fifth out of 11 teams at the sectional championship with a combined score of 396. Kevin Coulter (95), Andrew Barber (96), Jake Gardner (102) and Randy Duley (105) were the Caper Tiger scorers.
Middle Township placed seventh at 400. Jake Riggs led the way with a 91, good for 11th overall out of 53 finishers. Middle’s other scorers were Dylan Zimmerman (95), Haley Cohn (104) and Evan Rinier (110).
Middle then edged Lower, 182-184 in the Paul Yerk Cup match at Cape May National. Middle was led by Riggs (39), Cohn (47), Zimmerman (47) and Jacob Radzieta (49). Duley (42), Coulter (44), Matthew Riess (48) and Gardner (50) were the scorers for the Tigers.
The Paul Yerk Cup is named in honor of the former longtime successful Middle Township High School head golf and assistant football coach Paul Yerk, who passed away in January 2021 at age 77. He posted a career golf coaching record of 350-238 in more than 30 seasons as coach, leading the Panthers to two Cape-Atlantic League titles along the way. An Army veteran who also served as a longtime member of the Lower Township Board of Education, Yerk was an English and special education teacher at Middle Township.
Yerk’s wife, Sally, was on hand at Cape May National for the festivities.
In addition to honoring Yerk, the match also serves as the lone chance for players’ parents to watch their sons and daughters compete. Although fans are usually not permitted on the course during a high school match, the teams and Cape May National allow the parents to do so for this match each season.
The day culminated with the teams and parents sharing dinner at Cape May National.