The Mitchell High School boys golf team is younger this season, but not without leaders.
It again enters the season with three seniors -- Max Tupper, Kade Clark and Max Dailey -- but will rely on underclassmen for the rest of its team score. However, coach Mark Horan doesn’t think it puts the Kernels at a disadvantage after finishing ninth at the Class AA state meet last season.
“That’s the cycle of the golf team,” he said. “The new ones will step in and are going to do fine. Our three seniors have been solid players for years.”
The Kernels’ three seniors have taken a leadership role to ease the transition as Lincoln Bates, Noah Larson and Jackson Childs round of their top-six golfers.
With three new faces, Mitchell’s focus is on course management and improving its short game, hoping to culminate in it playing its best golf at the tough Hillcrest Golf and Country Club in Yankton on Oct. 7-8.
“We’ll work on our strategies -- what clubs to hit, what clubs to hit where and work on the speedier greens,” Horan said about the state meet’s course.
Mitchell ended last season playing its best golf on the second day of the state meet, leading Horan to believe it can improve on its ninth-place finish. Dailey (33rd), Clark (47th) and Tupper (57th) all had better second-day scores, resulting in the Kernels shooting 24 strokes better and ranking as the sixth-best team on the day.
“We’re hoping for a season like that this year,” Horan said. “… Get on the top of our game and keep it going. We got the potential.”
The Kernels will have plenty of time to practice at Lakeview Golf Course, including during the Eastern South Dakota Conference meet on Sept. 28. However, they open their season at the Sioux Falls Washington invite on Monday.
“Jumping right in there and starting with the competition and play smart,” Horan said about the team’s first invite. “Play with a positive attitude.”