KALIDA – Too laid back.
That is how Kalida head coach Ken Schnipke describes this year’s squad. But don’t let that easy-going demeanor fool you. Even though they don’t show a lot of emotion, the Kalida team is as good as past Wildcat teams and proved it by earning a berth in the state tournament.
For the fourth straight season, Kalida will be competing for a state tournament after the Wildcats captured the Division III title with a score of 328 last week at Stone Ridge Golf Club in Bowling Green.
Kalida will play the Ohio State University Scarlet Course beginning Friday.
“They are pretty laid back,” Schnipke said. “If they get nervous I don’t see it. They like to have to have fun and it is good fun. There is nothing mean about it and they like to joke around and they are all good friends and that is good too.”
Schnipke added that the team benefits from the friendly competition on the team.
“You want to beat the other guy’s brains out but you still want to be friends,” Schnipke said. “They are pretty tight group.”
Senior Josh Recker, who is making his third trip to state, echoed his coach’s sentiment and said this team is really close.
“We bond together really well and we always have fun,” Recker said. “We are always competing against each other but always having fun which makes the season a lot of fun.
Kalida has made it a habit of competing at state but at the onset and prior to and during the season Schnipke was not so sure his team would be returning to Columbus even though four of his top six golfers were seniors. One of Schnipke’s concerns was replacing standout Christian Nartker who was the Wildcats’ top golfer last season.
“It kind of surprised me a little that we were up and down (throughout the season),” Schnipke said. “We would shoot 318 one time and the next day or two days later shoot a 340 and it surprised me we weren’t a little more consistent. I always thought one through six that we were better than a lot of other teams.”
But as the season has progressed the Wildcats have appeared to settle into a groove at the right time.
The Wildcats began postseason play by capturing the Putnam County League title with a 333 and then followed it up with a third place showing at sectionals and then proceeded to win the district title.
At districts, Josh Recker led the way with a 76 followed by Alec Edelbrock’s 82 and Ryan Klausing’s 84. Justin Siebeneck rounded out the scoring with an 86.
“I think a couple of the guys are getting more comfortable,” Schnipke said. “Alec (Elderbrock) shot an 82 and Josh shot a 76 so hopefully it is coming around just at the right time.”
Recker added that he thinks the team exceeded its expectations and he figured they are right where he expected them to be and that is back in Columbus.
“We’ve all been playing our best towards the end of the season when it really matters which is good,” Recker said.
Schnipke admits that he thought Minster was the best team at districts and his expectations were for the team to shoot around 340 and hopefully that would be good enough.
Kalida’s rough start at districts had the longtime Wildcat coach a little worried if they were going to even qualify for state but true to form, the team remained poised and persevered to come away with the win.
“We were 10 over on the first hole,” Schnipke said. “We had triple, double, par, triple, double so it wasn’t looking very good so I talked to each one of them after the third hole and they seem to settle down. They didn’t play the first three holes pretty good and they didn’t play the last three holes very good but in between they played really well.”
Kalida will try to find that same stroke when competing at Columbus but Schnipke said like every year the competition will be tough. Last year, the Wildcats finished 11th and the prior two seasons before that the Wildcats placed seventh overall.
“Berlin Hiland shot 295 in their districts and I don’t think we can do that but then this is the state tournament and a different course and the Scarlet (course) is a beast,” Schnipke said. “We just want to eliminate the mistakes and keep it in play and keep it middle or front and don’t go over. It’s just little stuff like that and hopefully they can handle the nerves. They are all going to be nervous. It is the state tournament and if you are not nervous maybe you shouldn’t be there.”
Elderbrock and Recker are familiar with the Scarlett course having played there two years ago.
“They know what is going on and hopefully they can help the other guys,” Schnipke said. “Four of the five played at the state tournament last year so hopefully that helps.”
True to this team’s label, Recker said the team is approaching state to have fun and do their best and hopefully that translates into a top finish.
“Most of us our pretty familiar with the atmosphere so we kind of like know what to expect and I think we will be all right if we just play our game,” Recker said.