ENID, Okla. —
By Bruce Campbell
Enid’s boys have one major asset in their bid to qualify for the state golf tournament as a team for the first time since 2007.
The Plainsmen have 22 players out, including returning starters Stephen Nicholas and Chris Hayes. Competition, second-year coach David Lee hopes, will push the Plainsmen to a state berth.
“We have 10 to 12 kids who are only a few shots apart,’’ Lee said. “Out of that 22, hopefully we can find some kids with talent. We have more depth than we have had in the past. Hopefully, they will push each other in practice and make each other better.’’
Lee has been encouraged by the first two tournaments of the season. He took one group to Ponca City and another to Guthrie’s International course.
Freshman Alex Vaverka had an 83 at Guthrie to shoot the only sub-90 round of the 10 players who participated in the two tournaments.
“He had a solid day in all phases — with his driver, approach shots and his short game,’’ Lee said. “That was an impressive round for a freshman. I’m encouraged for his opportunity to grow in our program and develop his skills where he can shoot lower scores.’’
Stephen Nicholas, who averaged 86 strokes per round as a junior, shot 93 at Ponca City last Monday. However, his fall qualifying scores were solid.
“His scores were very consistent in the fall,’’ Lee said. “He was on pace to qualify for state as an individual last year, but he had a couple of triple bogeys at the end which cost him. I look for good things from him. He’s our leader and a great kid. I look for him to provide everything you want from a senior. I expect him to play at state, hopefully as a team, but certainly as an individual.’’
Hayes averaged 97.3 strokes in nine varsity rounds last year, but did not play in the regionals. He fired a 101 at Ponca City, thanks “to a couple of bad holes which caused his score to go higher than usual,’’ Lee said. “I expect him to play well.’’
Sophomore Haskell Henson had Enid’s low score at Ponca City with a 91. Sophomore Brent Nicholas and junior Jack Batchelder each shot 109.
The other scores at Guthrie were sophomore Brooks Huston, 101; junior Colin Crabbs, 95; junior Patrick Blevins, 96; and freshman J.D. Zuech, 99.
The numbers will allow Lee to take more than one team to some meets. He will have junior varsity and a freshman schedule to offer even more opportunities.
“I hope we can solidify our lineup by mid-April,’’ Lee said. “To make state, we need to make the push two or three tournaments prior to that.’’
Lee said his players need to learn both course management and maturity. In team golf, a player has to have a short memory, Lee said, putting away any frustrations after a bad hole or bad shot.
“We have to stay positive and be tough mentally,’’ Lee said.