George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Success is a word synonymous with Havre High School golf over the years. But as the Blue Pony boys and girls golf teams get set to open the 2009 season, success might be measured a little differently. While HHS has as times still found plenty of success on the links in the past few years, it's numbers and depth that have caused the HHS golf teams to come back to the pack of Class A golf so to speak. Still, with several key returning players and better numbers this season, second-year Blue Pony head coach Jeff Jensen is optimistic as the Ponies get set to open their season Monday and Tuesday at the prestigious Great Falls Invitational. "Everything has been good so far," Jensen said. "Our numbers are up from last year, the kids are excited about golf and we have a good group of players. Now, the job is turning these kids into golfers, and it may take some time, but I think with the kids we have out, we can do that." The Blue Pony boys will have to march on this season without four-year star and Class A All-State performer Jeremy Jensen, who is now playing college golf at North Idaho College. But Havre does return a solid All- Conference performer in senior Brett Normandy, who has been a longtime varsity player, and who has plenty of big time high school golf experience. Havre's only other returning players with significant varsity experience are Cody Brunk and Simon McCann. Both were part of HHS's Central A Divisional team a year ago. Also returning to the boys team this season is Blaine Grisak, Caleb Fisher and Rafferty Reddies, along with Sam Lippy. The Pony boys also have a large group of newcomers to the team this season, including Marc Klimas, Rodrigo Valencia, Spencer Morkrid, Austin Christiansen, Thurman Holdsclaw, Isaac Nault, Chase Stoltz and Chance Pitkanen. And as of now, any number of those aforementioned players could vie for varsity spots as the season goes on. "I like how many boys we have out this year," Jeff Jensen said. "We have a good group of kids who are eager to learn and get better, so that's a real positive for us." But on the girls side, HHS will not be able to field a full team for the second straight season, which means the Ponies won't be eligible for the team competition in the Central A or at the Class A state meet. However, Havre does return an All- Conference player in senior Courtney Kinholt, as well as the much-improved Rebekah martin. Both players made great strides on the course a year ago. Rounding out the Pony girl's roster is newcomer Samantha French. "I really have high hopes for Courtney and Rebekah," Jensen said. "They both played well last season, and I think they will both improve again this year." As for the upcoming season, Jensen isn't sure where his team fits in just yet. How the Ponies play in tournament competition instead of practice rounds will give him a better indication. However, as far as the Central A is concerned, he said that Livingston is most likely the team to beat on both the boys and girls side, while Lewistown will also field strong squads this season. "I think our division will be pretty tough on both sides," Jensen said. "So we'll just have to wait and see how we do." Individually however, Jensen is certain that Normandy will be one of the Class A's top players this season, and he believes Kinholt can be there as well. Havre opens its season with the Great Falls Invite, and only Normandy, Brunk and McCann will make the trip for the boys, while Kinholt and Martin will play on the girls side of the all Class AA field in Great Falls. Havre's schedule will also be tough overall. The Ponies not only go to Great Falls, but play at tough venues like Billings and Laurel. They host a pair of meets, starting at Prairie Farms Golf Course on Sept. 10 and Beaver Creek Golf Course on Sept. 12. Everything leads up to the Central A tournament Oct. 3 in Belgrade, while the Class A state meet is slated for Oct. 9-10 at Big Mountain Golf Club (formerly Northern Pines) in Kalispell. Havre kicks off the season with the first 18 holes of the Great Falls Invitational on Monday at Meadowlark Country Club. The final 18 holes of the season-opening tournament will be held Tuesday at Eagle Falls Golf Course.