FIRST TEE: Blue Jays open season today
Motivation is not lacking this season for the Jamestown High School boys golf team.
After missing the state tournament by a single stroke last spring, this year their eyes are squarely on the prize.
"That's kinda been eating at them, but they're trying to turn it into a positive," second-year coach John Samuelson said. "They're pretty excited. They've been out at the course working at it."
The Blue Jays open the season today at the two-day Mandan Invite at Prairie West Golf Course. The core of the team does not lack for experience. Senior Eric DeBoers and Adam Reiten along with juniors Connor Mullowney and Cole Bennion return as key contributors. DeBoer, Mullowney, and Bennion are seasoned varsity vets.
"Those kids have been around a long time. They've played in a lot of tournaments and have gone on a lot of trips together even going back to when they were really young," Samuelson said. "I have really high hopes for those kids. They have the potential to do really well."
While proper technique in golf is obviously critical, and challenging, Samuelson said they've been stressing about what goes on between the ears.
"We've worked a lot and talked a lot about the mental aspect of the game," the coach said. "They've had a tendency to really beat themselves up after meets and it always seems to take an extra day to take a step back and look at the positives in their rounds.
"You really like that they care, that it matters to them, but you also have to be able to let it go and move onto the next hole or the next round or the next tournament. That's what we've been really working on."
While DeBoer, Mullowney, Bennion and Reiten are the undisputed top four, the rest of the lineup remains in flux. Sophomore Jared Kallenbach had his score used last year occasionally. Samuelson is, "Looking for good things from him."
Jeremy Williams posted some good scores last year as an eighth-grader, while sophomore Connor Rene and senior John Schoeler also could play their way into the mix.
"We've seen some positive things already, but it always takes a little time to gel as a team," Samuelson said. "We're excited to see the kids play in that first tournament and then we'll build from there."