Co-Co leads solid boys golf team in 2007

Co-coaches John Smith and Seth McCracken guide junior Josh Hardin and the rest of the Pioneer boys
by: Bill Wilson, Josh Hardin enters the 2007 campaign as Sandy's top golfer despite a recent leg injury.

'Koko' is the name of a famous gorilla that knows sign language, and it's also the name of a well-known blues singer. And 'Coco' is the name of a Major League Baseball player.

But not too many people know that 'Co-Co' is the nickname of both John Smith and Seth McCracken, the men who jointly lead Sandy's boys golf team.

'We actually named them Co-Co,' senior golfer Logan Meade said, 'because they're co-coaches.'

Smith and McCracken are both counselors at Sandy High School, but neither man has had to dish out a whole lot of psychological advice to a level-headed group of varsity golfers.

'I'm very appreciative that I don't have to use Psychology 101 on them,' Smith said of his team. 'They have a pretty good head for the game.'

Sandy's top golfer looks to be Josh Hardin, who played behind last year's No.1, Tyler Hendershot.

With Hendershot - a state qualifier - lost to graduation, Hardin steps into the spotlight, a role he's ready for.

'He's very solid,' Smith said. 'He has a lot of golf background.'

Hardin is still working himself into game shape, though, as he is in the process of recovering from a broken leg.

'It just gets tender and sore in the early part of the season,' Smith said. 'A couple times we've provided him with a golf cart just because of the stiffness. It was in a pretty extensive cast for most of the winter, so obviously atrophy and getting rid of that stiffness is going to be an issue.'

Hardin's excellent swing is still fully intact though, and his leg has shown definite improvement in the last few weeks, Smith said.

An intriguing addition to the team is sophomore Forrest Wagoner, who returns to golf after a freshman-year hiatus.

Wagoner, despite his youth, has an extensive golf background and could be Sandy's secret weapon in 2007.

'The thing I like about Forrest,' Smith said, 'he's got a very natural swing. He's one of those kids who has great flexibility. You can tell somebody taught him how to play golf in the early years. He has full extension, great flexibility. Both he and Josh have very good temperaments for the game.'

Rounding out Sandy's top five are sophomore Jerad Spencer, junior Jamie Wood and Meade.

Meade is confident that the current Sandy golf team might have the depth and consistency to challenge its conference foes.

'I think - as a team - we could win every time if we all shoot consistently,' Meade said. 'I think, as group, we're going to do well this year.'

Meade has taken an active leadership role with the team this year, something that hasn't escaped Smith.

'Logan Meade has a very stable personality for the game,' Smith said. 'He's a great leader, the only senior in our top five. His leadership has been appreciated tremendously over the first month of the season.'

Smith is fond of Spencer and Wood too, and he believes that the former could provide the same sort of 'secret-weapon' dimension that Wagoner does.

'(Spencer) has a very good build for golf,' Smith said. 'He's tall, flexible, lanky and hits the ball very hard. He's going to be kind of a sleeper for us, I think.'

So far, the Pioneers appear to be a tight-knit unit, and they exhibit the sort of traits that one would expect from hardy Pacific Northwest golfers.

In fact, Smith indicated that the boys' enthusiasm for the sport never wanes - even on rainy days - and he told a story of how the boys were disappointed when practice was canceled one day due to hail landing on the course.

'The kids don't seem to mind,' Smith said. '(But) I've already caught two colds in four weeks.'