Senior Stephen Sowers practices his swing during practice March 7. at L.A Nickel golf course. Sowers, a member of the team since his freshman year, has been an integral part of the squads’ two consecutive state titles in 2014 and 2015.
About to tee off at the district tournament May 2 at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, the boys’ golf team is hunting for their seventh straight district title.
It hasn’t all been smooth swinging, however, since past leaders Matt Echelmeier, Jack Knoesel and Ben Humphreys passed the torch to a squad made up of mostly underclassmen, head coach Douglas Daniels said.
“Because we had to replace three players due to graduation, inexperience is the biggest obstacle,” Daniels said. “But we try to play a full slate of matches so the jitters that come with inexperience may disappear the more matches we play.”
JV player freshman Kavi Patel said initially it was hard to acclimate to the team environment but that the boys connected quickly.
“I didn’t know anybody so when I played it kind of was like I was playing by myself,” Patel said. “But then after the first match I became pretty close friends with a lot of the guys.”
With a record of 9-1-3, however, the five unseasoned varsity members have shown maturity and determination after quickly defeating their “jitters,” Daniels said.
“The year has gone well. We are a young team with a five-man varsity squad that features one senior, one junior, two sophomores and one freshman,” Daniels said. “The freshman Ross Steelman has made quite a splash, placing first in a few matches. I would also add that sophomore Hudson Dubinski is starting to show the form that resulted in him earning all-state honors by placing second at last year’s state championship.”
Steelman attributes his success and his teammates’ success to their “good team chemistry,” and their desire to improve their abilities. He also said Daniels’ excellent coaching has helped to tee off their drive.
“We all get along really well as a team,” Steelman said. “We all also want to improve and beat each other, and Doug gives us the best chances to get better.”
While the youth has come on strong, team veterans such as senior Stephen Sowers and junior Ben Knoesel have not let their command over the sport dwindle.
“Sowers is our only player who played on both state championship teams of 2014 and 2015, and we expect him to be at the top of his game when district play begins May 2,” Daniels said. “Along with Ross Steelman, junior Ben Knoesel and sophomore Sam Rentschler, are the other players on the Bruin varsity to be playing in their first season of a full varsity schedule. Both are gaining confidence with each event and are becoming more consistent with their play.”
Steelman anticipates a victory, saying they are “rounding into shape at the right time.” While Daniels has reservations about the foreign course, he knows his squad is ready for the challenge.
“I believe in this team,” Daniels said. “I anticipate they will rise to the occasion and bring RBHS its seventh straight district title.”
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