Four Hillsboro High School golfers who competed at state last year will be joined this year by some fresh faces on the team with varied levels of experience.
Senior Carson Herbel and juniors Colin Settle, Elliot Ollenburger, and Elias Werth posted a 409 to place 10th of 12 teams last year at the 2A state golf meet in Salina.
Coach Scott O’Hare hopes the team can make a run at state again this year.
“They’re a little older and more experienced,” O’Hare said. “Each seems to understand their own golf swing better. They’re adding consistency to their games and have a better sense of how to correct some errors in their game they made in the past.”
While it is still early in the season and somewhat hard to tell where each player stands, O’Hare said Herbel, whose first year playing high school golf was last year, made tremendous improvement by the end of the season.
“Carson has been hitting the ball well in practice,” O’Hare said. “Eliot and Elias are in the same boat. They all hit solid golf shots last year, but tended to one or two shots per hole that ended up that might have turned a par into a boogie.”
He said they’re closer to breaking through to play a more consistent game this year.
“Consistency takes focus and time on the course,” he said. “They’re getting to the point where they know what to expect from each club when they hit.”
He said Settle, a left-handed player, is working on a different aspect of consistency in his game.
“He has a really nice swing and hits well,” O’Hare said. “He had a fair number of good holes last year but he was the type of player that had a few bad holes holding him back. He’d lose focus for a few holes and then recover.”
Five new players will join the four veterans.
Senior Alex Dalke played as a freshman and sophomore then sat out of golf his junior year but continued to play with friends and family, O’Hare said.
“He’s got experience,” O’Hare said. “He’s been hitting the ball well and could vie for a varsity spot.”
Senior Caroline Roth, a German foreign exchange student, has five years of formal instruction from a German golf club.
“She seems to know a lot about the game,” he said. “It’s hard to say how she will play from the men’s tees but she strikes the ball well and will certainly add depth to the team, and could press to get a varsity spot.”
Senior Jeff Jorgenson doesn’t have much golf experience, but O’Hare said he seems to be picking the game up well, as he is eager to learn, athletic, and highly coachable.
Where sophomore Joe Knoll has played in Hillsboro’s junior golf club and with family and friends, sophomore Darian Ratzlaff is starting from scratch learning the basics of the game.
The added depth will give the team more options for good scores this year, as having a team of six varsity players will allow the team to drop the two lowest scores at tournaments; a luxury the Trojans did not have last year.
O’Hare hopes to bring the team down to about the mid-300s from the 400s scores they frequently hovered around last year.
“Overall, this is really a good group of hardworking kids,” O’Hare said. “They have a good chemistry. They all get along and want to improve. I think with their athleticism and desire to improve we will have a pretty solid year.”