The Creston/Orient-Macksburg boys golf season ended in disappointment last year, with the team falling short of its goal of making a trip to state.
Two seniors are gone from that team, and the returners are led by junior Carson Whittington, who qualified for state as an individual, leaving the Panthers with hopes of making it as a team this year.
Depth will be a big key for the Panthers this year, as head coach Jan Lesan says there are four players who can compete for the top spot on the team on any given day, and a number of players who can compete for varsity spots.
“We lost two good players, but the group we have back is very capable of getting to where we needed to be last year, and that is to state,” Lesan said. “Everybody knows Carson is going to be there. The one some of them are really fearing right now is Trey Thomsen.
“If Trey comes in as a solid second right behind Carson or beats Carson, then we know we’re going to have a one-two punch that’s very hard to beat. Then you also have Hunter Sickels right there. Kainen Somers will be right in the mix fighting for it.”
Lesan also mentioned Christian Groumoutis, Sam Hartsock, Jordan Thompson, Maxx Walters, Evan Nielsen and Coleton Hoepker as players who will be competing for varsity spots.
That depth will make the competition for varsity positions intense throughout the season.
“Again, there’ s going to be some disappointment, because we’re going to have some very good golfers who are pushing each other very much,” Lesan said. “It makes them push each other. That just makes them better.”
Thomsen, a senior this year, said the competition for varsity spots on the team can sometimes be more intense than competition with other teams.
“It’ll keep the varsity guys on their toes, for sure,” Thomsen said. “Everybody will know they have to play a good round just to make the team. It will help everyone be focused all the time and be ready to go every day in practice as well as in meets.”
Last season, the Creston/O-M girls team did not have enough members on the team to count in team scores, with only three golfers.
Those three golfers all return in Sarah Waigand, Ashtyn Riley and Maranda Ford.
This year, the Panthers also add in freshmen Madison Hance and Shelby Palser, giving the Panthers a scoring five.
“Again, we will have Sarah, Maranda and Ashtyn, but we picked up Shelby Palser and Madison Hance,” Lesan said. “Both young ladies know how to play the game, and with the combination of the three we had, we might surprise some people.”
Lesan noted the three returners, who all improved throughout last year, are heading into the season much improved.
“They’ve been hitting the ball well,” she said. “We’ve been down to the chipping green, making sure we’re not going to three-putt or play any over. They’re responding well and hitting the ball well. Hopefully we can be in the high 50s, low 60s.”
Lesan also expects the two newcomers to be able to challenge for the top individual spot.
The Panthers open the season today with the girls hosting Atlantic and the boys traveling to Atlantic.
Boys — Dillon Bailey, Blake Eddy, Christian Groumoutis, Sam Hartsock, Coleton Hoepker, Jaaron Kautz, Evan Nielsen, Nick Noecker, Jake Routh, Keenan Reese, Hunter Sickels, Kainen Somers, Trey Thomsen, Jordan Thompson, Maxx Walters, Albert Weis, Carson Whittington and Jacob Wolf.
Girls — Maranda Ford, Madison Hance, Shelby Palser, Ashtyn Riley, Sarah Waigand.
April 4 — vs. Atlantic (boys away, girls home)
April 5 — vs. ADM (girls and JV boys)
April 9 — vs. Clarke, Winterset (boys and girls varsity)
April 13 — at Winterset tournament (girls)
April 15 — vs. Clarinda (boys away, girls home)
April 16 — at Ballard tournament (boys)
April 18 — at Corning (boys and girls)
April 19 — vs. Clarke (boys and girls)
April 22 — vs. Glenwood (boys away, girls home)
April 25 — vs. Chariton (girls home)
April 29 — vs. Red Oak (boys home, girls away)
April 30 — at Atlantic tournament (boys and girls)
May 4 — at Chariton tournament (boys)
May 6 — Hawkeye 10 Conference (boys at Creston, girls at Harlan)
May 10 — Boys sectional (TBD)
May 13 — Girls district (TBD)
May 17 — Boys district (TBD)
May 20 — Girls regional (TBD)
May 24 — Boys state
May 28 — Girls state