Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 27 March 2012 15:17
With one state qualifier and three additional letter-winners returning, Hillsboro golf coach Scott O’Hare is hopeful the Trojans can field a competitive four-man team this spring.
For that to happen, though, O’Hare is looking for two things to emerge: the first is more consistent play among his returners, and the second is for one or two of his three freshmen to play well enough to contribute at the varsity level as the season progresses.
Consistency begins at the top with the Trojans’ No. 1 golfer, Devin Dick, who tied for 40th among 101 competitors at the Class 3A state tournament last season.
“He’s the one I’m expecting a lot from,” O’Hare said of the senior. “He has the potential to score really well. His tendency the past couple of years is to play pretty solid for the majority of a round. But it’s usually two or three holes where he scores some big numbers. If he can eliminate those big-number holes, he’s going to shoot pretty good scores.”
O’Hare said Dick played quite a bit of golf this summer and seems to be hitting the ball pretty well in the preseason.
“We’ll just continually work on fine-tuning some things and getting more consistency in the way he plays,” O’Hare said.
The three teammates likely to join Dick on a Trojan foursome are fellow seniors Kyler Borg and Casie Allen and sophomore Evan Ollenburger.
“Kyler has been playing throughout high school and has continually gotten better,” O’Hare said. “He’s never really grown a lot (physically), so his length off the tee is never going to be huge. But as long as he can keep the ball in play he has potential to score. He did pretty well in a few tournaments last year.”
Allen has made strides since taking up the sport in high school.
“He’s gotten to where he hits a pretty good ball,” O’Hare said. “He sprays it a little bit, so you never quite know if he’s going to go left or right. But he’s making much better contact all the time. We’re just trying to fine-tune some things so he knows what to expect all the time.”
Allen also will need to improve his chipping and putting.
“He knows full well the weakest part of his game is his short game, but he’s grinding away at it and is continuing to get better.”
Ollenburger, meanwhile, is only in his second year of golf, but made huge strides toward competitiveness during his first season a year ago.
“He played quite a bit this summer and is hitting the ball really well,” O’Hare said. “Again, consistency is going to be the key for him.”
The advantage of entering five or six players in a four-man format is that it allows for a substitute score when one of the top four players has an off day.
But O’Hare knows that goal may be asking a lot of his freshmen—Phillip Ediger, Graham Pankratz and Jordan Simmonds—who have limited experience in the sport.
“We’re kind of starting from scratch there,” O’Hare said. “Phillip and Graham have very little experience at all. They’re starting to pick up some things and starting to make contact.”
Simmonds, meanwhile, has played some golf with family, but hasn’t had formal instruction.
“I’m still waiting to see where he falls in terms of scores he can shoot,” O’Hare said. “He can hit the ball a ton, but you’re never sure where’s it’s going. I’m having to revamp his swing a little bit to make it something he can do consistently.”
Only time will tell how the freshmen develop through their junior-varsity tournaments early in the season.
“The ideal situation would be for a couple of those freshmen to come along to a point where by mid-season I can take six to the varsity competitions and hopefully get four pretty decent scores out of the mix,” O’Hare said.
The Trojans are scheduled to open their season April 3 at the Herington Invitational, then will play their annual home invitational two days later.
The only other varsity competition on the home course will be half of the 36-hole Marion County Invitational May 4.
Marion is expected to host the other 18 holes as usual, despite some course damage that occurred last summer and fall.
Last season in the inaugural Central Kansas League tournament, the Trojans placed fifth among seven schools. Hesston won the title and O’Hare looks for the Swathers to be a favorite again this year.
This year’s league tournament will be at Halstead, which may help the Trojans compete for a state berth if they are assigned to the Halstead Class 3A regional tournament the following week.
The Class 3A state tournament will be May 21 at the Sugar Hills course in Goodland.