KALIDA – For the third straight year, Kalida is heading back to state.
While that might seem like it was a given now that it has happened there were some who believed at the beginning of the season the Wildcats would not make what has become an annual trek to the state tournament.
Division III state competition tee at Northstar Golf Club in Sunbury at 8:30 a.m Friday.
“We got lucky and made it back again,” Kalida head coach Ken Schnipke said. “A lot people people probably thought we couldn’t do it.”
Kalida came out of districts with a score of 334 tied with two other schools and two strokes behind Division III district champions Minster.
Schnipke said he expected the scores to be a little lower but added that the wind conditions, especially on the back nine, was definitely a factor in the higher scores
“I was hoping for the 320 range thinking you might have four teams in the 320 range but the way it turned out as windy as it was the scores were a little higher than I thought they would be,” Schnipke said. “We played good. Christian (Nartker) played excellent. Josh (Recker) played excellent and the other three did what they have been doing all year.”
The way the team played at districts has followed the pattern that had occurred during the regular season.
The Wildcats opened the season with the Defiance Invitational where the squad shot in the 340s but by the end of the week had shaved nearly 30 strokes off that score.
Schnipke admits that his team was way ahead of scheduled than he anticipated.
“We actually started playing better than I thought we would,” Schnipke said. “I thought we were six weeks away from when we started were playing,” Schnipke said. “Somebody even made the comment we were peaking too early. I looked at it that we are shooting this week can get better and improve on that. We have been pretty consistent all season.”
Schnipke added that one pleasant surprise this season is the play of freshman Ryan Klausing and averaging around an 85.
“That has been a real big surprise,” Schnipke said. “It was almost like when golf season started he took a jump from higher scores to shooting in that range so that was real nice to see.’
Nartker, who is making his third trip to state, has been the leader all year and proved it by firing a 74 to take medalist honors at district.
Schnipke said Nartker’s seeds of success this season were planted during the offseason when the standout senior diligiently worked during the off season and played in tournaments as far away as Tennessee.
“Christian has put so much work into it,” Schipke said. “He is into the fitness part of it by eating right and lifting weights. It might know in bulk because of his height but he just loves the game and his put a lot of work into it.”
As good as he is as a golfer, Schnipke sees him as an even better leader and teammate.
“He has been great as a leader and you cannot ask for anything more,” Schnipke said. “He has done everything you want him to do. I didn’t have to tell him to do it. He just does it. He wanted to see the team do good and he is all about the team.”
Schnipke added that Nartker works with the younger golfers and charitable with his time and often gives some of the younger Wildcats rides to practice or back home. This was important to the three other golfers Klausing, David Peck and Grace Miller that were new to the varsity experience.
As the leader Nartker has set the example of Wildcat pride and because of this Schnipke said this team has been on of the closest he has seen in the last few years.
“These guys can rib each other and give each other a rough time,” Schnipke said. “They can take it as well as they can give it. This is a really good group and the chemistry is really good.”
Schnipke is hoping the team chemistry can help them finish in the top five at state. Last year, the Wildcats finished seventh overall.
As has been tradition, Schnipke actually eases up on practice leading up to the week at state in order for them to regroup, refocus and hopefully relax a little.
“They have only had two days off since labor day so I push them pretty hard,” Schnipke said. “They don’t complain and I think it pays off in the long run and it has in the last few years. They put a lot of time in.”
Schnipke added that he has to thank the school for allowing the team to play in multiple invitationals throughout the year.
Expectation wise, Schnipke said everyone goes down there to win but in reality he understand the competition is going to be as tough as ever as teams like Worthington Christian and Wellington come into the state tournament with scores under 300.
“I think we go down there relax and play and throw score up and see what happens,” Schnipke said. “Realistically we could finish in the top four or five.”