KALIDA — Kalida longtime boys golf coach Ken Schnipke was not surprised on how well his team fared last season.
The Wildcats finished 11th at last year’s Division III state tournament.
Last season marked the third consecutive year Kalida made it to the state tournament. Kalida finished seventh in both 2017 and 2016.
Leading the way for Kalida at last year’s state tournament was Christian Nartker, who shot a two-day total of 170. Josh Recker (179), David Peck (189), Ryan Klausing (202) and Alec Edelbrock (207) rounded out the Wildcats’ five golfers.
Schnipke had a great deal of confidence in last year’s team.
“I expected it. I knew they were capable of doing it,” Schnipke said.
Schnipke is hopeful his team can make it back down to Columbus this fall. However, with Nartker graduated, Schnipke knows getting back to the state tournament won’t be easy.
“This year, it will be hard to fill Christian’s shoes,” Schnipke said. “He had a great season. I think it’s going to have to be more of a team effort. One through five – they’re going to do it that way. It’s not going to be one person carrying the load.
“They have the experience. They can hit the golf ball. So, it’s just a matter of working on the short game.”
Schnipke said with his athletes competing in other sports, it’s a challenge for them to find the extra time to put the work in during the offseason.
“It’s exciting to have that kind of experience coming back,” Schnipke said. “I kind of wished they could have put more time in during the offseason, but kids are busy nowadays. They all play baseball, so it’s tough.”
Schnipke points to having depth as the key to the upcoming season.
“I think I’ll have probably seven kids that will be fighting for five spots.,” he said. “Josh Recker’s an athletic kid. He has really good eye/hand coordination. Ryan Klausing has been working hard over the summer. He (Klausing) is going to be a sophomore. He was the third man last year. I’m looking for good things out of him. The other ones in the mix will be David Peck and Alec Edelbrock. By the end of the season, I think we will be pretty decent. Hopefully, we’ll give the better teams a run for their money.”
Harmons at Elida
Because Spencerville did not have enough for a complete varsity team, seniors Gavin Harmon and this year’s Lima Junior Golf Association McDonald’s Series male player of the year Ethan Harmon, who both competed at last year’s Division III state tournament, along with freshman brother Carson will be playing for Elida.
“It’s our home district,” said the Harmon’s dad, Mike, who also served as Spencerville’s head coach. “They’ve got a lot of friends there (in the district where they have lived all their lives).”
“Our program is very excited to have them join us,” said Elida coach Denny Thompson, who will have Harmon serve as an assistant coach. “It puts us in a position to challenge the area at every level. The competition between the returning starters and the Harmons will make everyone better.”
Minster looks strong
The Wildcats return four of the five letter winners in seniors Grant Voisard, Grant Koenig and Ethan Lehmkuhl and junior Joseph Magoto, the LJGA Oscar Schuefler Sportsmanship Award winner, that tied Spencerville for eighth at Division III at state last year.
“We are looking to build on the success from last season, which included a (Midwest Athletic Conference) championship, district championship and a finish in the top 10 in the state in D-III,” coach Jim Stubbs said. “We are returning five varsity players and a lot of experience this season. We also have a nice influx of younger players.”
Bath’s Britton Hall reached Division II state as a freshman.
“As long as he keeps his mind clear and just focuses on this year, not last, there is no reason he shouldn’t be able to accomplish the same if not more and hopefully the guys around him can help out with some good golf and keep us competitive this year,” Bath coach Matt Gillett said.
Varsity letter winners seniors Austin Boley and Reese Sweigart and sophomore Calvin Caywood return for defending Western Buckeye League champion St. Marys.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.