Chris Peterson Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Last season the Havre High golf team fell just short of achieving a rare sweep of both the boys and girls Class A state championships. Each team finished as the runnerup to go along with a pair of Central A divisional titles. However, with talent such as Class A state individual champion Ali Ward gone from the girls team and all-state performer Matt Hedstrom gone from the boys team, new talent will need to emerge for Havre to stay in the upper echelon of Class A golf. Unfortunately, the program was dealt a swift blow, when just 12 players turned went out for the team. “Its kind of a sad year for the Havre golf team,” HHS head coach Karla Bolken said. “We still have good returning players and we will still be very competitive, but as of now we are only going to carry four players on both of our varsity squads, which is pretty risky in case someone gets hurt or sick, then we would be in trouble, but right now we just don’t have much of a choice.” But regardless of the numbers, the Ponies embark on a new season today, when they travel to the Great Falls Invitational. Despite having just six members, the Pony girls are well-suited for a good showing in 2007, thanks to four returning varsity players. Replacing Ward, who was a dominant player in the program for four years, will not be an easy task, but the combination of Stacey Sheppard, Tabitha Beck, Haley McLain and Danika Patterson gives the team high hopes of immediate success. Sheppard, McLain and Patterson, all seniors, are well equipped for tournament play. Each of them placed at the Central A divisional tournament and played a key role in the runner-up finish at state. “We should have a strong team even though we are so short in numbers,” Bolken said. “We have a lot of experience just not a lot of depth. “I think that right now Stacey is probably our number one golfer,” She added. “But really, all four girls are playing pretty well right now.” Underclassmen Taylor Haas and Rebecca Martin round out the roster and will be competing to fill the final varsity spot. The HHS boys team suffered even more losses due to graduation, with four of the five varsity players from last season gone. Jeremy Jensen is the only returning varsity player. But Bolken feels confident in the abilities of Myles Mazurkiewicz, Dan Pizzini and Brett Normandy, the three players who will fill out the remaining part of the boys varsity roster to start the season. Jensen is the clear number one to open the season and should contend for high individual honors at both the divisional and state tournaments. Pizzini is the lone senior on the squad and should fill the number two spot nicely, leaving Mazurkiewicz, a junior, to be the number three guy and sophomore Normandy to step in at the four spot. “Jeremy has been playing extremely well since the start of practice,” Bolken said. “I think he has the ability to have a really good season, but the rest of the boys have been playing well too. They all have the talent to do well. They just need to work on being more consistent over the course of 18 holes.” The Ponies will see their first competitive action today, when they take part in the Great Falls Invitational. The meet will feature Great Falls High, CMR, Billings West, Billings Senior, Billings Skyview, Helena High, Helena Capital, Kalispell, Bozeman, Missoula Sentinel, Missoula Hellgate, Missoula Big Sky and Butte, among others. How the team does should give Bolken a pretty good indication of where the teams are at right now and how far they will need to go to contend at both the state and divisional levels in the Class A ranks. “It will kind of be an initiation by fire,” Bolken exclaimed. “But I guess we will get a chance to see how we stack up right away.” The Great Falls Invitational is a 36-hole, two-day event with play taking place today at the Meadowlark Country Club. On Tuesday, the tournament's final round will be held at Eagle Falls Gaolf Course.