Southridge to deal with youth on greensMarch 26, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG — It’s not a limited quantity for Southridge.
The Raiders will have 14 golfers if and when there is a season, but they will have a young team. Eleven out of their 14 golfers are underclassmen, but six sophomores return from 2019 with a season under their belt. Five freshmen will be part of the squad, but some have gone to camps and partaken in Dubois County Junior Golf.
The opportunity to break in is aided following the graduation of Carson Mundy, Michael Kappner and Tristan Boerner from last season.
“I would expect a lot of fluctuation in the lineup this year,” Southridge golf coach Brock Matthews said.
The challenge, though, is getting to practice and play. March 16 was supposed to be the first day of practice, but the COVID-19 outbreak has caused postponements of school and local sports. Southridge was originally supposed to open the season April 9 against Tecumseh and Perry Central. However, school is out until May 1.
Matthews views seniors Aidan Blessinger and Owen Kinker as his best returning golfers. Blessinger and Kinker consisted of the varsity lineup all season long as juniors last year, and Matthews will be turning to them if and when the season finally does get underway. He added that sophomore Cory Abell had the best year out of the freshmen last year.
“He really, from the beginning of the season to the end, showed a lot of improvement,” he said of Abell. “I’m expecting some big things out of him and him to step into the lineup and help us out as well.”
Matthews anticipates the numbers being a good thing. He thinks those numbers will provide competition within the team and added the No. 5 and No. 6 slots are wide open for the taking. Matthews thinks it could be any given person at any given time, and he hopes his golfers put in the extra time.
He expects that Blessinger, Kinker and Abell would all be part of the top five. Matthews thinks some sophomores, Eli Buse and Luke Trout, could find their way in there as well. The same is true for freshman Gabe Boeglin, whom Matthews praised as athletic with a nice swing.
Southridge finished fifth at the Pocket Athletic Conference meet last year, and seventh out of eight teams at sectional. Matthews wasn’t happy with how his team did in the latter event, and told the Herald afterward that people won’t improve if they go from the end of the season to the beginning of next season without playing.
“It definitely got a little better in terms of people practicing in the offseason,” he said. “It’s still got a long way to go. I’d like it to get to a point where everybody’s doing it, but we’re getting to the point where we did we did the range sessions. I was getting five or six kids out there regularly. I got about three guys that will regularly use the simulator, indoor simulator that we have here at school. So, it’s better than it was. Hopefully, we’re starting...trying to change the culture a little bit, but we got a long way to go as far as putting in the work, the necessary work, to improve.”
Matthews thinks the Pocket Athletic Conference is wide open, with a lot of parity and some stacked teams. Heritage Hills has won the PAC 11 years in a row, and while the coach of the Raiders thinks the Patriots were the front-runner heading into the season, “things happen, you never know.”
The Raiders have a strength of numbers, but Matthews also believes he has golfers buying in and wanting to get better. He thought past golfers went through the motions and just wanted something to do, rather than have the drive to get better. Matthews believes the game means something to his current team, that they’ve taken a liking to the sport with a desire to improve.
“It’s definitely a learning year, but I don’t see why we can’t be learning and winning at the same time,” he said. “You’re definitely going to have some younger guys that you’re trying to build, and we’ve got some pieces there that have been around and are improving. Definitely, I’d like to be competitive and get those guys to perform well.”
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