Mark Gutman/Daily News Due to a misclassification on part of the Section V Golf committee, Elba/Oakfield-Alabama’s C.J. Gottler has been awarded the Class C Title weeks after the sectional tournament was played.

ELBA — In an unprecedented scenario, an error in classification on the part of the Section V Golf committee has resulted in Elba’s C.J. Gottler being awarded the 2021 Class C Title weeks after the tournament concluded.

The original winner over Gottler, Bloomfield’s Gabe Ward, had initially been awarded the ‘C’ patch, but it turns out Ward was misclassified as he was instead supposed to be placed in the Class B bracket, where Bloomfield is positioned for the team tournament coming up this week.

Bloomfield is the smallest ‘B’ school in Section V Golf, listed in the sectional handbook with a BEDs number of 221. Warsaw, the largest Class C school, is listed with a BEDS number of 212.

Bloomfield’s Ward was mistakenly listed as a ‘C’ participant on the list of sectional classifications sent to coaches for individual sectionals weeks ago. The mix-up was no fault of Ward’s nor Bloomfield Central School, as the Section V Committee simply misplaced Ward for the individual championships and scheduled him to tee off with the other Class C golfers.

“With a team being on the bubble (in terms of BEDS numbers), it’s a mistake that can be made,” said Elba/Oakfield-Alabama head coach Mike Cintorino. “I’m just glad that between (Genesee Region League golf coordinator Rich Hannan) and (Section V Golf chairperson Charlie Webster) they worked it out.”

The issue with Ward’s classification didn’t arise until last week, when Hannan was alerted that, at the upcoming team championships, Bloomfield was scheduled to compete in Class B, contrary to where Ward was placed for the individual tournament.

During a Genesee Region League quad match between Attica/Alexander, Holley, Pembroke and Elba/Oakfield-Alabama early last week, coaches Lance Bannister of A/A and Cintorino of Elba/O-A began to discuss the upcoming team sectionals and their respective teams’ outlook.

Attica-Alexander needed a couple of victories that day to perhaps remain in the hunt for a spot in the upcoming tournament. The Blue Devils were hovering around a six or seven-seed at the time, with only eight teams per classification advancing to the ’21 Section V Golf postseason.

In preparation for the quad match, Bannister had surveyed the sectional standings and discovered that Bloomfield was a few spots ahead of them in the Class B playoff race. Throughout his conversation with Cintorino during their team’s quad match, the two discovered the discrepancy between Ward’s entry in the Class C individual tournament and his team’s entry into the Class B tournament.

Cintorino then prompted Hannan to reach out to Sec. V to clarify Ward’s participation in the Class C tournament during the individual sectionals a few weeks prior. After a quick review, the appropriate changes were made and later announced on the Sec. V Athletics website.

During the individual tournament, Ward went low with a four-over 76, defeating Gottler (78) by two strokes. With the correction, Ward will now be classified as a Class B champ, with Gottler being provided a patch for the ‘C’ crown. Initial Class B winner, Dominic Nicastro of Attica/Alexander, will keep his patch, and it appears as if he and Ward will be considered co-champions despite Nicastro shooting 10-over 82, which is six strokes off Ward’s now-winning number.

Ward’s elimination from the Class C field not only gave Elba/O-A’s Gottler the win, but it bumped Elba/O-A’s Travis Wiedrich and Brayden Smith up to second and third place, respectively.

“For our program, it’s fantastic,” said Cintorino about his group’s 1-2-3 finish in ‘C.’ “These guys are in constant competition. Even when it’s not golf season, they’re always playing golf and always trying to beat each other. The fact they’re able to finish 1-2-3, at least at our school, that’s never been done. It’s a true testament to their work, their effort and their competitiveness.”

For Gottler, this is his second consecutive sectional title, as he also won the 2019 Class C Championship. No sectional titles were awarded last year, as the ’20 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This win puts him in that echelon of some of the great golfers that have come out of Genesee Region League,” added Cintorino. “Whether it was Matt Genaway from Attica/Alexander, Evan Gaesser of Kendall, or the Pflaumer’s from Elba or the many other great golfers over the years. He is right up there with them. He is one of those golfers that when you talk about GR golf, his name is always going to be up there.”

Gottler and the Lancers look ahead to the Sec. V Team Championships on Friday, June 11 at Caledonia Country Club.

“It would cap off a great season,” said Cintorino about his team’s quest for their first sectional title since 2017. “A league championship, individual championship and team championship - we did that in ’17. It’s kind of the hat trick of Sec. V golf and to pull that off, it would be a great feat for our districts and team.”

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