Golf team builds for future
Having two coaches can be an advantage for teams and Sandy boys golf coaches John Smith and Seth McCraken know how to use it to their advantage.
'Between the two of us you have a lot of experience in athletics,' McCraken said. 'We are both single digit handicap golfers and have a passion for the sport.'
Sandy returns their top five golfers from last season when the Pioneers finished fifth in the Mount Hood Conference.
Seniors Josh Hardin, Jarad Spencer, Jamie Woods, Jordan Frost and junior Forest Wagoner return to lead this year's team.
'Last year we finished as high as third in a few tournaments so the success is possible,' McCraken said. 'Everyone has been participating in our optional practices and they are eager to improve.'
Last season, no member of the Pioneers advanced to state and they struggled in district, but McCraken thinks this year it may change.
'We have four or five that, if they get hot, could really make a run to the state tournament.'
McCraken said the goal this season is to battle for the league title and, after last year's fifth place finish, third is the lowest they expect this year.
'Central Catholic, Barlow and Centennial are all going to be very strong, but we have a lot of experience and are eager to show what we can do.'
Sandy's top three golfers, Harden, Spencer and Wagner all come in averaging in the high 70's to low 80's and expect to lower those scores as the season progresses.
Among the newcomers, McCraken said they expect big things from sophomore Adrian Spencer and freshman Kyle Kao-Muller and Mike Montgomery who all average in the mid 80's.
'We have a very deep team, but in the end we hope to only need our top four or five to compete for a league title,' McCraken said.
Team scores are taken from the top four scores of five golfers at each tournament.
'The kids are really focused on eliminating high scores and getting the feel of the game back,' McCraken said. 'We have been working on the short game, chipping and putting which should help cut strokes of their scores.'
While the team has high hopes, McCraken said it is difficult to get the kids to focus on the team atmosphere of such an individual sport.
'It's hard but we (McCraken and Smith) try to get them involved in the team atmosphere as much as possible. Before each meet we will ask them what they want to shoot (as a team) and that gets them involved in the total team concept.'
McCraken said he could see as many as five Pioneers advancing to state if everything falls into place during the season.
'If they focus on their game and continue to work hard, we could send as many as five guys to the state tournament,' McCraken said. 'If everything is perfect this season, we finish first or second as a team and advance four or five guys to state.'