Golf must start over without state qualifiers
The sky was overcast and a light rain drizzled. Still, De Soto golf coach Scott Sharp persisted. The weather had been a tremendous ally over the winter and that may quickly become obvious when his team takes to the tee box to open its season.
"We've been real fortunate with the weather, but I'm waiting for the mid-March snow storm," Sharp said. "Guys have been getting out and playing for weeks now on their own, and now with practice starting, we've been getting out every day."
Short the two best players from a year ago, it may seem the De Soto golf team needs the extra advantage. Zach Bader, who qualified for state with a third-place finish at regionals, graduated to play at Ottawa University, while Payne Wilkie, then a freshman, moved to Austin, Texas, after finishing second at regionals.
Sharp said while the losses will be evident, he's confident the Cats will find a way to continue their four-year streak of sending at least one competitor to the state meet.
Matt Woywod may present the best opportunity for the Cats to return to the state stage. Woywod missed much of last season, but scored in the 80s when he was able to play. Wilkie hit an 81 and Bader hit an 82 at regionals.
"Matt Woywod is going to be our top guy this year," Sharp said. "He should be shooting in the low 80s. He looks good. He's been playing a lot this summer."
Offering a bit of senior leadership, Tim Oswald could also emerge as one of the team's leaders. Oswald played great at times a year ago, but his season is as memorable for its inconsistency as it is for anything else.
"Tim shot some in the low 80s and some in the 100s," Sharp said. "He had some blow up rounds and he had some really good ones."
Obviously finding a bit more consistency is the primary mission, Sharp said. Once there, Oswald could easily be one of the team's top threats.
"Our primary focus is working on the short game and consistency," Sharp said.
Nick Bergman represents De Soto's only other senior. Entering his second season with the team, Bergman said he doesn't want one or two Cats to make the trip to state. He's set on helping the entire team go.
"I just want to make state as a team, so we need to play some good golf and have some fun with a lot of the guys," Bergman said. "(Bader and Wilkie) were really good players, but we have some good guys and it pressures us to be better this year."
De Soto was scheduled to open the season Monday, but host Mill Valley was forced to move the meet to the end of the season, making De Soto's March 30 trip to the Sunflower Hills golf course, a meet hosted by Bonner Springs, the season opener.
The Cats are then in action again only days later, playing in the Blazer Invitational April 3 in Gardner.