|Coach discusses boys' golf prospects, 2013 season|
by Norv and Mary Coblentz · April 04, 2013
The West Liberty boys' golf team hopes to improve this year after a pretty good 2012 season. Last season, the team's record was 23-44, but they placed fourth at the home invitational and were four strokes away from moving on to the district meet.
According to West Liberty golf coach Jason Iske, the boys are going to have to work hard for those improvements.
"Our focus skill-wise needs to be in the area of chipping/putting and course management," Iske said. "These aren't always the most fun to work on, but they are no doubt the most important, and could give us the most immediate improvements to our scores."
Two seniors who made significant varsity contributions last year were lost to graduation –Bernardo Partida and Erik McKillip, who was the number one golfer on last year's team. "Replacing McKillip's scoring will be a must," Iske said.
There are four seniors on the 2013 squad. Cole Rozell will play his third year of golf.
"Cole improved quite a bit between his sophomore and junior seasons, and he earned his varsity letter last year," Iske said. "Last year, his scores were pretty inconsistent. However, I expect him to be in the mix for the varsity squad again this year as he's capable of shooting some solid scores. He'll need to work on his chipping and course management."
This is also Juan Martinez's third year in golf.
"Like Cole, Juan improved a lot from his sophomore and junior seasons," Iske said. "He started last year with some promise, earning a spot on varsity in our first handful of meets. However, he developed some swing problems and couldn't maintain the level of play he started the year with. I also expect Juan to be in the mix for varsity action this year, but he'll need to work on consistent ball contact."
Tanner Nolan will be playing golf for the third year as well.
"When Tanner started as a sophomore, he had never played golf before," Iske said. "His improvement from that time has been tremendous, especially considering he doesn't play a ton in the summer. His improvement is due to hard work and his willingness to listen and learn the game of golf. I expect Tanner to continue to improve throughout the year."
Tyler Newsom will go out for golf for the first time as a senior.
"He has participated in track the last three years and decided to do both sports this year," Iske said. "I've seen Tyler hit some balls a couple of times, and he has a pretty nice, natural swing. Time will tell whether Tyler can contribute to the varsity squad, but he does show some promise."
The team returns all but one golfer from last season's final varsity squad. Elliot Henderson, Kohl Wheeler, and Sergio Zamora are juniors. Austin Newton is a sophomore, and Roszell is the senior returning. "We also have guys like Juan Martinez and Damien Collins (a junior) who will return and could vie for a varsity spot."
Promising new golfers include Tyler Newsom, Kyle Miller (a junior), and Brice Page (a freshman).
"Right now, I see about eight to 10 guys who could compete for varsity and junior varsity spots. I feel that our top 10 golfers are the best all-around that we've had here in my four years. We really need one or two of them to step up and consistently score around 40. If we can do that, we have a chance at making some noise around the area."
In the Cedar Valley Conference, Durant and Regina will be strong.
"Durant returns a lot of talent and bring in a freshman who will help them immediately," Iske said. "Regina returns two terrific golfers but may have to rely on them too much to be able to really challenge. Columbus Junction, although not in our conference, should be tough again as they bring back most of their team that went to the state tournament last year."
Iske has hope for this year's team. "I think our motto needs to be consistency," Iske said. "We have guys who are capable of posting good scores. However, I don't know what I'm going to get out of them from day to day. The good news is we have a great mix of returners with a lot of varsity experience and newcomers who can provide some good scores and competition in practice.
"In all, I look for us to compete with the top teams in our conference and put ourselves in position to made it beyond the sectional meet."
This is Iske's fourth year coaching golf. He has no assistants, but he would like some help if anyone is interested.
"We have 20 boys out for golf which makes it tough to get around to everybody," Iske said.