ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
First-year Tabor golf coach Randy Keck doesn’t mince words when he describes his expectations for his men’s and women’s golf teams this spring.
“We wanted to possibly win the conference,” Keck said about his men’s team. And he expects his women’s team to be contenders, too.
Keck comes to Tabor from Altus, Okla., where he was the men’s and women’s coach.
Keck played professionally for seven years after graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma. His professional career was cut short by a rotator-cuff injury.
Keck said as a result of competitive experiences, his athletes at Tabor are willing to listen to him because “they know I know what it takes.”
Not only does Keck have high hopes for his men’s team in the KCAC, he said his team could be among the top five or six teams in the nation.
Fueling his lofty expectations are a group of returning athletes who Keck said have made every effort to improve their game.
Included in the regimen is a five-day-per-week 6:30 a.m. workout, with three days lifting weights and two days for conditioning runs.
“When we first started the morning workouts, they complained,” Keck said. “But they’ve been doing it long enough that they are seeing the benefits of it.
“They’ve absolutely killed themselves,” he added. “We have a great group of kids, and they’ve worked very hard and are growing very rapidly.”
Tabor is able to practice in the challenging winter weather because of its new indoor practice facility. Keck is proud of the facility and said it will enhance his recruiting capabilities.
Heading this year’s group of seven golfers is lone senior Brad Shields. The Lindsborg native returns with All-KCAC credentials.
In the abbreviated fall schedule, Shields won individual honors at the Hesston Invitational and Tabor finished second as a team.
Shields is joined by Matt Bauer, a junior who was an honorable-mention All-KCAC pick last year.
Cameron Conant is the other junior on this year’s team.
Mike Jamieson is the lone returning sophomore. He is a transfer from Southern Colorado.
Ryan Clement, Cody Kelley and Hesston native Tyler Skidmore are the freshmen who round out the squad.
Keck is quick to praise his women’s golf team, too. With the program somewhat in its infancy stage, the Bluejays still are building their numbers.
This year’s team, even with few members, still has lofty goals.
Four golfers comprise the women’s team. Brandy Jo Nix, a sophomore, plays the role of “upperclassman” on this year’s team.
Three freshman constitute the remaining members: Diane Soldan, Kelsy Wint and Porsche Davis.
“Southwestern has been in the top 10 in the nation in women’s golf,” Keck said. “Our girls are probably better than they are. I think we can beat them.
“We’ve gone from being very mediocre to being very strong.”
Keck hopes to someday soon, field a team of 10 golfers on both teams.
He said his squad has a tough schedule this spring, but knows competition is normally a positive thing, and “baptism by fire” indicates what the teams need to do to be competitive.
Keck maintains a simple coaching philosophy: Get better everyday.
“We’re kind of taking baby steps,” he said. “We’re trying to build a little bit at a time.”