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Big expectations for Panther golfers

Published: Thursday, April 10, 2014 1:19 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, April 10, 2014 1:47 a.m. CST
Caption
(CNA file photo by LARRY PETERSON)
Creston/O-M won the 2013 state championship in Class 2A, and Carson Whittington was individual medalist.

Coming off a season that saw the Creston/Orient-Macksburg boys golf team claim the Class 2A state championship, along with Carson Whittington winning the individual state championship, there’s plenty to be excited about this year for head coach Jan Lesan.

Four of the six golfers from that state championship team return this year, losing only Trey Thomsen and Kainen Somers to graduation.

Whittington, Christian Groumoutis, Sam Hartsock and Hunter Sickels all return.

“Four great kids that love this game,” Lesan said. “You don’t have to force them to be out here. Then our fifth kid is Coleton Hoepker, who lost in a playoff not to be on that team. So really, we have five kids that are playing very, very tough right now.”

One of the big reasons for Creston/O-M’s success last year was the high level of competition between team members just to make the varsity lineup.

That looks to be a strength of this year’s team as well, with a host of golfers capable of cracking the varsity lineup on any given day.

“We have Maxx Walters and Evan Nielsen going for those top six (spots),” Lesan said. “Then we have Nick Noecker and Jaaron Kautz, who should be there. We have two freshmen who are looking real good, and those are Kyle Somers and Michael Stults.”

Competition

The Panther golfers can’t lose focus, even for a little bit, or there could very well be someone stepping up to take their spot on the varsity lineup.

“I feel like we have a lot of depth still with our JV team,” Sickels said. “We’re going to have a lot of competition with our qualifying rounds. It will be good for us to keep that great feeling going into meets.”

“I feel like that’s what gets us to where we are,” Whittington added. “Perfect practice makes perfect, so I think that helps.”

Whittington said the competition for the top spots on varsity will be just as vital as the competition for the final spots on the varsity lineup.

“I think Christian is stepping it up a bunch from last year,” he said. “I think he’s going to be the one or two man the whole year. He’s stepped it up a lot. Sam, Hunter and I, we have the experience. It’s going to be nice having that experience going into sectionals, districts and state.”

Repeat

The big question surrounding this Panther golf team is can it repeat as state champion?

“What I’ve been hearing a lot about is ‘are you guys going to repeat? Are you guys going to do it again?’” Sickels said. “It’d be great to. We’ve got a great shot. We want to be that top team again. It’s as simple as that. We want to win.”

When Whittington wrote down his career goals as a freshman, he listed winning an individual state championship twice and winning a team title.

“I’ve still got those goals in mind,” he said. “We want to be right back there. We want to get a repeat.”

Lesan said the conference tournament could provide a good test for the Panthers, who will be traveling to a course they have not seen in the past.

“Denison is an awesome course, so we’ve got to get up there and play,” she said. “We’re not going to get up there and play it for the first time and do awesome. Atlantic, Kuemper and Harlan will be in it there, too. There will be some good competition.”

Girls

The Creston/O-M girls golf team will feature a mix of experienced and inexperienced golfers, but it’s a group that Lesan believes can compete when they’re all together.

Senior Sarah Waigand, along with sophomores Madison Hance and Shelby Palser return from last year’s team.

Hance is a dual-sport athlete with track and field and Palser is a dual participant with soccer.

“Sarah Waigand is our senior leading us, but then we have Madison Hance and Shelby Palser, who are very good golfers, but they’re also talented in track and soccer,” Lesan said. “So when we have them, we should be pretty strong.”

Two new golfers on the team this year are sophomore Camryn Somers and junior Hannah Hagle.

“Camryn Somers, who is in her first year of golfing, but an athlete,” Lesan said. “She’s learning fast and wants to compete. Then Hannah Hagle has come out, also. Again, a beginner, but she listens and tries.”

Needing four golfers to score in team competitions, Lesan noted that the biggest key for the girls team this year will be getting the whole team together for competition.

“If we can get them all there, they should be in the middle of the pack to the upper pack,” she said. “Madison was medalist a few times (last year) and Shelby was right behind her. Sarah is hitting a ton out of the ball. If we can get one more score in there, they should do pretty good.”

The Hawkeye 10 Conference girls meet is at Fox Run in Council Bluffs this year.

“Kuemper will be tough,” Lesan said. “Atlantic lost one good girl, but when I talked to her the other day, they should be a contender in there, too.”

The Panthers open Thursday, with the boys hosting Atlantic at Pine Valley and the girls traveling to Atlantic.

Roster

Seniors — Evan Nielsen, Hunter Sickels, Maxx Walters, Carson Whittington, Sarah Waigand.

Juniors — Dillon Bailey, Christian Groumoutis, Sam Hartsock, Coleton Hoepker, Jaaron Kautz, Nick Noecker, Tyson Tucker, Hannah Hagle.

Sophomores — Blake Eddy, Jake Routh, Madison Hance, Shelby Palser, Camryn Somers.

Freshmen — Tyler Downey, Brendan McDowell, Michael Stults, Kyle Somers.

Boys schedule

April 10 — vs. Atlantic (at Pine Valley)

April 15 — at Winterset

April 21 — at Clarinda

April 22 — at Ballard

April 24 — vs. Southwest Valley

April 25 — vs. Clarke

April 28 — vs. Glenwood

May 5 — at Red Oak

May 6 — at Atlantic

May 8 — at Nodaway Valley

May 10 — at Chariton

May 12 — at Hawkeye 10 Conference Tournament (Denison)

May 16 — at Atlantic

May 23 — at Carroll

Girls schedule

April 10 — at Atlantic

April 11 — at ADM

April 15 — at Winterset

April 19 — at Winterset

April 21 — vs. Clarinda

April 24 — vs. Southwest Valley

April 25 — vs. Clarke

April 28 — at Glenwood

May 1 — vs. Chariton

May 5 — vs. Red Oak

May 6 — at Atlantic

May 12 — at Hawkeye 10 Conference Tournament (Lewis Central)

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