Friday, August 17, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe has shot at 5A East golf title

Leader sportswriter

This year’s Beebe golf program features a pair of talented underclassmen on the boys’ side as part of a seven-player roster while the girl’s side is considerably leaner with returner Taylor Harrell as the only female Badger golfer for 2012.

That puts the focus on competing for a 5A East Conference championship and Class 5A state title on the guys, but second-year coach Justin Moore said all is not lost for Harrell, who finished sixth at state last year as a junior, shooting a solid 82.

Senior Than Kersey returns as the Badgers’ top golfer this season. Kersey stays busy throughout the year, and splits his time in the fall between golf and tennis. He is also on the varsity baseball roster during the spring.

“He pretty much plays everything but football,” Moore said. “He’s pretty solid – a 70’s golfer. We expect him to do well this year.”

Sophomores Cole McNeil and Hunter Davis are classmates who are also both coming off hip injuries last year. McNeil has already seen time on the green in the first two matches this season while Davis is still recovering.

“Combine those two with Kersey, and I think we have a good chance at winning conference this year,” Moore said.

The first match of the season for Beebe at the Red Apple Inn Country Club in Heber Springs on Aug. 2 did not go the way the Badgers had hoped, but their next match at the Harrison Country Club against the Goblins golf team on Aug. 10 showed much improvement.

“Than shot an 81 – had a decent round early and then bogeyed out towards the end,” Moore said. “ McNeil shot an 88. It was his first round in about a month, and he improved as the round progressed. In the last seven holes he shot two over.”

Business will pick up for the Badgers this coming week with three meets, starting at Greystone against Searcy and Heber Springs on Monday, followed by a round at the Tannenbaum course in Fairfield Bay the following day. Beebe will wrap up the busy week with another round in the Fairfield Bay area, this time at the Mountain Ranch Golf Club.

Advancing to the state tournament as a team requires a top-two finish in conference play, and with 5A East foes Paragould and Greene County Tech always in the hunt, Moore said there is still plenty of time for improvement.

“So far, we haven’t played very well yet,” Moore said. “Most of the summer practices, it’s been difficult to let them play 18 holes because it’s been so hot. We haven’t played our best golf yet, but we will average two rounds a week for the next month and a half. That should get us ready for when it really counts.”

For Harrell, there will be no hope for her reaching state as part of a squad, but her chances at returning to the tournament as an individual are strong. Moore, now in his second season, has found building a roster of female players to be one of the more frustrating aspects of leading the program.

“You just have to advertise and hit the hallways and recruit,” Moore said. “I did that, and I had four or five who showed interest. Most of them had played golf before, and I was excited about that, because if you have a girl who’s played before, she’s already a step ahead of a lot other high-school players.

“But no one ever showed up. I’m really going to have to sell it, but it hurts having no course here in Beebe.”