After missing the playoffs for the first time in five seasons last year, the Lackawanna Trail golf team finds itself in a similar position of veteran leadership paired with newcomers hoping to make an impact on the links this season.
The Lions, who finished 3-9 last season, are without three core seniors and team captains from last year’s team, including individual district qualifier Ricky Kordish, but are returning three juniors looking to fill their shoes as team leaders.
“We’re looking at a repeat of last year, with three returners and three who have never played in a match, so it’ll be a learning curve,” head coach Harry Powell said. “It comes down to how much those juniors improved and how quickly the freshmen can get experienced and comfortable enough to contribute.”
Howell said that one of the difficulties of having younger players on the team is that they’re almost forced to be ready to play at a competitive level without having much time for practice.
“It’s part of the nature of the sport,” he said. “There’s not a lot of time to get these kids to practice in match play situations because we’re already playing three matches in our second week. But we’ve had junior high kids coming to practices for the last several years, so those freshmen have been with me for three years. That’s a big help for us and we won’t be going into our first match starting from scratch.”
Howell’s decision at a starting six starts with the Irving Jackman Memorial Golf Tournament on Friday, which he makes his players qualify for in order to attend.
“I can take as many as six players, but I set a number in the first week of practice that they have to meet in order to go,” Howell said.
He also said that the biggest challenge his team will face this season will be their lack of experience, but a hurdle that can certainly be overcome with some practice.
“The juniors have limited experience in only having played in 12 matches, but it helped that they were playing with seniors last season,” Howell said. “They still haven’t seen every situation and might be a little nervous, but I’ll be addressing that to make all of them as comfortable as possible. It’s a new dawn for us.”
Juniors Evan Kongzold, Patrick Mason and Cody Stuenzi return as veterans for the Lions, along with junior Patrick Mason, and freshmen Andrew Faist, Owen Hyde and Jacob Wescott.
Aug. 18, at Lakeland, 9 a.m.
Aug. 20, at Holy Cross, 4 p.m.
Aug. 22, Blue Ridge/ Susquehanna, 10 a.m.
Aug. 25, at Forest City, 4 p.m.
Aug. 27, Riverside, 4 p.m.
Aug. 28, Montrose, 4 p.m.
Sept. 2, at Carbondale, 4 p.m.
Sept. 4, Elk Lake, 4 p.m.
Sept. 8, at Mid Valley, 4 p.m.
Sept. 11, at Mt. View, 4 p.m.
Sept. 15, Dunmore, 4 p.m.
Sept. 22, Old Forge (parents day), 4 p.m.