As the Geneseo boys’ golf team kicked off the 2012 season this week, the Leafs hope returning experience and depth will be big assets of this year’s squad.
“I don’t think there is any question about it, we are deeper than in the past,” said head coach Darren Hall.
“We have good experience coming back and have a nice mix of experienced players and younger guys, who will push the varsity guys pretty quick.”
Hall said the first couple of days of practice went well and noticed that several of his golfers put the time in over the summer to get better.
While the team hasn’t established their team goals for the season, Hall would like to see his team again advance out of regionals and then see if they can get some to advance out of sectionals to the state meet, if not the team.
“I think what is really going to decide how well we do this season is getting one or two low scorers every match,” said Hall. “We have guys who are solid and dependable who can do that. We will just have to find out who it will be.”
The seniors set to lead the way for the Leafs this season are: Dylan Dale, Tyler Ford, Dugan?Kuffel and Rich Snell.
“Rich and Dugan have both played pretty consistently for me and are our two captains,” said Hall. “I would like to see them keep the guys motivated and wanting to work hard throughout the season. The other two seniors, Tyler?Ford and Dylan?Dale, I would love to see them contend for varsity spots.”
The juniors looking to make an impact this season are: Chase Braack, Billy Converse, Collin Medley, Damon?VanRycke and Kevin Wolak.
“We have three juniors who played varsity most of the year last year in Collin, Kevin and Billy, and I want to see them maintain and become more consistent,”?said Hall. “We need to reduce our mistakes and avoid the ups and downs. If we can maintain more consistency that would help.”
The sophomores joining the team include: Brian Bozzer, Jacob Decker, Eric Dellett, Ian VanHerzeele and Tyler Williams.
The freshmen in their first year of high school golf include: Grant Chaney, Ryan Ford, Trace Johnson, Austin Jump, Nathan Lauritzen, Donte Nystrom and Wyatt Wade.
Coach?Hall views the biggest strength of this year’s squad is the Leafs’ depth.
“We do have a number of guys who are pretty good golfers,” said Hall. “The problem I am going to have is figuring out the right guy to play at the right time. If we can have a couple of guys play exceptionally well then we can have others play just solid.
“A lot of our players this year had a chance to play golf away from Maple Bluff, so hopefully that experience will pay off because we tend to be very good at home and struggle outside of home.
“Our challenge will be accepting a bogey is OK opposed to trying to play the perfect shot. Sometimes you just have to take a bogey to avoid the big numbers. We just need to avoid the big holes and big mistakes.”
Coach Hall said what will help the team be successful this season is having a couple of his golfers really play well every match and the others to have solid outings every round.
“We do have a bigger pool of golfers to choose from and that will test their mental make up because they will be fighting for a spot all year long,” he said. “Mentally it will be great and it will make them more competitive, but also challenging every day at practice.
“All competition is healthy. Every practice we work on fundamentals and also do something competitive.?It is important to always compete and always try to better someone else.”
As far as the outlook of the conference this season, Streator and Sterling continue to be strong teams, while Ottawa is still young but is getting better, said Hall.
“Our conference is awfully good again this year and it is a pretty open race,” he said. “There are going to be three or four good teams in the conference.”
Last season, the Leafs tied for third in regionals and Kevin Wolak’s 80 beat Streator’s fifth score to send Geneseo to sectionals. The Leafs placed 11th in sectionals and failed to send anyone to state.
The Leafs opened their season on the road against Kewanee and Hall Aug. 14 where they earned a first-place finish with a team score of 167.
Leading the varsity was Kevin?Wolak with a 41, followed by Rich Snell, Billy?Converse, Dugan Kuffel and Collin Medley, all carding 42s. Ryan?Ford shot a 43 for the day.
The junior varsity also took home first place with a team score of 162.
Austin Jump and Dylan?Dale were the medalists for Geneseo with 40s, while Brian Bozzer and Damon VanRycke shot 41s. Ian VanHerzeele finished with a 45 and Eric Dellett a 47.
Geneseo will next host Rock Falls at 4 p.m. Aug. 21 at Maple Bluff Golf Course.