HHS threesome will form a foundation for Trojan golf aspirations this season


For Hillsboro High golf coach Scott O’Hare, the more things change the more they stay the same.

Last season, O’Hare had the core of a strong four-man team with three pretty consistent low scorers, but also a big question mark for a fourth score low enough to vault the Trojans into medal contention.

The same is true this season, though the names have changed slightly and the question mark may be a bit smaller.

Returning at the core of this year’s squad is sophomore Elliot Soyez and junior Justin Kent.

“Certainly, we’re pretty positive about getting Elliot and Justin back,” O’Hare said. “Elliot comes back as the defending regional champ and the state runner-up as a freshman. He’s a pretty consistent player with a good head on his shoulders.

“Justin’s been the type of player who can be in the same position,” he added. “He has the ability to be, but has just never found his own in tournament competition yet.

“He’s played very well in some tournaments but just hasn’t done it consistently. He’s close, though. We’re trying to do a lot of things with the mental part of his game.”

O’Hare lost a tough competitor in senior Andrew Bina from a year ago, but he will fill that vacancy more than capably with freshman Daniel Kunantaev.

“I normally wouldn’t talk about having a freshman in the mix this soon, but with losing Andrew, who was a very good player for us, we pick up Daniel Kunantaev as a freshman who has a ton of golf experience and loves to play the game,” O’Hare said.

“He’s hitting the ball very well. He’s physically very mature as a freshman. He has good size, so distance isn’t an issue for him. Because he’s played so much, he’s got a good head on his shoulders and is very knowledgeable about what he can do and what he wants to do.

“He’s a very solid player for a freshman.”

That leaves O’Hare still looking for that fourth score—but he’ll be looking to two seniors who return with an extra year of experience.

“Last year, Darren Enns and Zach Magnuson both stepped up,” O’Hare said. “Both had improved quite a bit from their sophomore seasons.

“Darren’s probably the one I’m looking at most to be consistently in that fourth spot. He’s hitting the ball pretty well, he wants to get better and he wants to help those three be successful.

“Zach is much the same way.”

A couple of other players may be in the mix as well.

“Daniel Miller is a returning senior who played a little bit of varsity last year. He’s been struggling a little early on (this spring), but is starting to find a swing that is working for him.”

Others who could contribute include Jake Kenney, a sophomore, and Daniel Dick, a freshman.

“(Kenney) has really made a lot of progress from where he started last year,” O’Hare said. “He’s hitting the ball pretty well. He had some issues with the short game, which is always the toughest thing to teach kids. But he’s starting to pick that up a lot better and is excited about competing for one of those six spots.

“Daniel Dick also has some golf experience, obviously with his dad (Doug) being a former coach (at Marion),” he added. “He’s played quite a bit with his family and has done a few tournaments in summer.

“He has a very nice swing. He’s just really small, so distance is an issue with him. But he has grown and is getting stronger, and that will help him a lot.”

Because of having greater depth at the lower end of the varsity lineup, O’Hare feels his team will be stronger than a year ago.

“The nice thing this year compared to last year is that we had the top three, and then we were really counting on Darren to have a good score. But if he was having a bad day, it just wasn’t going to happen (for the team).

“This year I think we have three or four guys who have the potential to contribute the fourth score we need.”

Of course, getting good scores from the top three players is likely, but not automatic.

“Those three have the ability to consistently shoot in the 70s,” O’Hare said.

“If they can get to the place where they feel confident doing that, a fourth score in the upper 80s is going to be good enough to put us in contention in any tournament we play.

“And really, any one of those three could shoot in the low 70s. They have the ability. It’s just a matter of executing.”

O’Hare expects a four-way battle for the league title this season with Marion, Hesston and Wichita Collegiate.

“Marion’s got everybody coming back, and we had a lot close tournaments with them last year,” O’Hare said.

“I would anticipate those three being the ones we have the biggest challenge with. If we play the way we’re capable of, I think we’ll be in the mix with all of them.”

Another highlight of this year’s schedule is the prospect of hosting a Class 3A regional.

“You’d think our kids will be well prepared for it,” O’Hare said.

“The scary part of that is that it is on our home course and so they feel they should play well, and then they put on that added pressure that doesn’t need to be there.”

The Trojans open their 2007 schedule April 3 at the Centre Invitational at Herington.


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