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May 21, 2019 5:00 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Oakley And Coady Headed To States

May 21, 2019 5:16 PM

Caraline Oakley and Paigue Diecidue have developed a rivalry in Suffolk County high school girls golf over the years—and the fiercer it gets, the friendlier they become.

Diecidue, who plays for Smithtown West, won the Suffolk County title at Middle Island Country Club in Yaphank on Tuesday, pulling away from the field with a two-day total of 148. She beat Southampton’s Oakley, last year’s county champ, who shot a 162, carding an 80 on Monday and an 82 on Tuesday.

Diecidue, a senior, won the county title as a sophomore before Oakley, now a junior, came on the scene in what was Southampton’s first year with a varsity girls golf program. Oakley had played for the Southampton boys golf team in years prior; because she played on the boys team, she was not eligible for the girls tournament in the spring.

Oakley and Diecidue have been playing against each other at Metropolitan Golf Association junior events since their early teens, but Oakley said she has become good friends with Diecidue in recent years. It’s a result of being paired together in competitions—they played in the same foursome on Monday and the same threesome on Tuesday—and also just a genuine shared love and appreciation for the game, and for supporting and encouraging fellow players.

Oakley said that while she would have liked to defend her title, she wasn’t bitter about the outcome. Far from it.

“I’m so happy for her,” Oakley said of Diecidue. “We have a lot in common and have a good connection. I knew coming into the tournament that she had improved a lot, and that I was going to have to work really hard to beat her.”

In assessing her own performance, Oakley said she played “okay,” and that she felt her short game let her down. But she said she was still proud of finishing second, especially because the top nine golfers advance to the state tournament, set for May 31 through June 2 at Deerfield Golf and Country Club in Brockport, near Rochester.

She will be joined by a teammate this year as well—eighth-grader Ella Coady shot 91 on both days to finish seventh overall. Junior Mia Wilutis finished 10th, and is an alternate for states.

Overall, Southampton finished second as a team, as it did last year. The Lady Mariners have had a girls golf program for only two years, and are unbeaten in matches in those two years, with two second-place finishes at the county tournament.

“It’s amazing to be undefeated again,” Oakley said. “There’s so much Mariner pride at school. All the teachers have been saying, ‘Wow!’ We’re all so proud of one another, and our team bond has grown so strong. We’re like a little family.”

The Lady Mariners should be strong for years to come, as there are no seniors on the team, and Oakley and Wilutis are the oldest, as juniors.

Head coach Kim Hannigan said she is proud of the team’s continued success, especially considering it lost one of its top golfers, Kaitlyn Browne, after last season when she transferred to St. Anthony’s. Brown recently won the Catholic League individual title in a playoff.

She was the number-two golfer on the team last year, behind Oakley, but this season other golfers stepped up to offset her loss. Hannigan pointed out that even golfers who did not earn All-County status showed vast improvement in the two-day tournament, with Caroline Wilutis shooting a 94 on Tuesday after carding a 110 on Monday.

“With Kaitlyn going to St. Anthony’s, I wasn’t sure where we would be overall as a team,” Hannigan said. “But to have three girls in the top 10, it showed that they can really hold their own.”

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