By Kyle Daubs
MHS boys golf coach Brett Poorman had a feeling about this year.
While it is early in the season, Poorman has been enjoying the team’s early successes during his first season as the team’s head coach.
“We met as a team right after school ended last year, and I could tell that the players were excited about this season,” said Poorman.
The team returns two Apollo Conference champions in Stewart Druin and Madden Johnson. Plus, both Johnson and Blaine Powers were state qualifiers last season. Those players help make the Green Wave favorites to win the Apollo Conference.
Several others have stepped us as well.
Like Evan Diedrich, who impressively had MHS’s low score when the team took third place at the Viking Invitational at Turtle Run Golf Course. Four players posted scores in the 70s to lead MHS to a third-place finish in the big tournament, finishing
The team finished two strokes behind second-place Normal Community, which was won by traditional state qualifier Benton.
“I challenged the varsity players to play as many rounds as possible this past summer,” said Poorman. “Those swings leading up to the season are a lot more important than when we start because it gets so busy that it’s hard to fix things during the season. The players deserve all the credit, they rose to the challenge and I know some of them were putting in 18-36 holes per day. They have worked extremely hard this year.”
Diedrich tied Johnson with a score of 73. This has been a big jump for Diedrich, who was behind Johnson, Druin, and Powers most of last year. Poorman said that Diedrich’s rise in his game has pushed his teammates to even higher levels.
“Evan has stepped up in a big way,” said Poorman. “He has been a dependable number three player for us. He has been around 76 all year and posted his personal-best 73 at Danville to help us shoot our best score. I think his consistency has also pushed Stewart and Madden, but, at the same time, given them a little bit of a cushion when they don’t have their best round. He takes a lot of the burden off of their shoulders because they don’t have to post a perfect round every tournament for us to compete.”
Will Pullen and Garrett Miller also had a great round as well. Pullen tied with Druin at 78 to help the Green Wave come within five strokes of the school record.
“We just achieved our first goal by having four players shoot in the 70s for a tournament,” said Poorman. “Our second goal is to shoot 297 or better to break the school record. Our ultimate goal is to make it to state as a team. Last year was bittersweet with only two of our players shooting well enough at sectionals to make it to state. All of our goals are team-oriented; our players have to be more excited for their teammates than for themselves. Stewart was extremely frustrated after struggling at Turtle Run, but he put that aside and celebrated with Will for breaking 80 for the first time.”
The Green Wave enter today’s prestigious Craig Dixon Invitational with a chance to finish among the best of the 41 teams competing in the invitational on Friday and Saturday. Team will alternate between playing at Meadowview Golf Course and Mattoon Country Club.
Both Mattoon and Charleston will tee off at Meadowview today.
“As a coach, I’ve tried to work alongside the players to create comfort on the course,” said Poorman. “During play, if I’m stressed or trying to control them too much, they won’t play well. For practice, we condition when we get a chance. They didn’t enjoy the weighted backpack run last Tuesday, but I think it helps to make sure they don’t get tired during a round. I’ll put them behind a tree and work on creating shots that they may encounter during a tournament. Will pulled this off perfectly at Turtle Run, slicing a 3-wood around a tree. Our short game work has saved us all year since we haven’t been striking the ball that well with our irons. We will look to get better again this weekend.”
Charleston also brings a solid team that features mostly underclassmen.
Freshman Hudson Meister, who won the state middle school championship last season, fired 3-under 33 at Charleston Country Club on Thursday.
Teammates Alex Kuykendall and Andrew Kuykendall posted scores of 37 and 39, respectively, to help the Trojans easily win the tri-meet against Mahomet and Effingham. Jackson Logue capped off the scoring with a 41 while Zach Craig was just one more shot behind.
Coaches Meeting Friday: 12:30 p.m. at both courses
Coaches Meeting Saturday: 7:30 a.m. at both courses
Teams that are assigned to play Meadowview on Friday and Mattoon Country Club on Saturday:
- East Peoria
- Marmion Academy
- Mt. Zion
- Normal Community
- Quincy ND
- Richland Co
- Springfield HS
- St. Anthony
Teams that are scheduled to play at Mattoon Country Club on Friday and at Meadowview on Saturday:
- Alton Marquette
- Bloomington Central Catholic
- Mt. Carmel
- Normal U
- Normal West
- St. Teresa