Tuesday, August 14, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot golfers young this year

Leader sports editor

The Cabot golf team features several young players this year. Only three seniors are on the girls and boys teams combined, but each team also returns three players who took part in the state tournament last season. The boys squad consists of 12 players while 11 girls will compete for the Lady Panthers this season.

“We’re pretty green right now,” Cabot coach Ronnie Tollett said. “We have three players on each team have established themselves. We’re hoping they get off to a good start and their game gets better. We hope to fill the other two spots you get in state with our up and comers. We need a few more to step in and fill those roles.”

Austin Huggins, Drake Oaks and Joseph Denomie all competed at the state tournament in Rogers last season for the boys team. Marlena Weatherly, Marley James and Kasie Follett did the same for the girls team.

“The other spots are really competitive right now,” Tollett said. “The kids are shooting about the same but it’s really early right now. We have a lot of golf to play.”

The Cabot squads played a nine-hole practice round at Greystone against Conway last Wednesday. It was not an official match and scores were not recorded, but Tollett believes it gave his team a good indication of where it stands and where it needs to be.

“Conway’s players were a little more experienced than ours,”” Tollett said. “They’re a little better than we are right now and we’re going to have to get better to catch them, but like I said it’s very early. The season is just getting started.”

The hot and persistently dry weather throughout the summer has hampered play this summer during the off-season. And since the golf season was moved from the end of the school year to the beginning a few years ago, the season has become shorter.

“We’re done in the middle of September and this has been a strange year to begin with,” Tollett said. “The courses aren’t in really good shape, but you still have to get a bunch of golf in in a hurry.”

No lights also means very few opportunities to play a full 18 holes of competitive team golf between the time school lets out until dark.

“You just can’t do it unless you play a really short course,” Tollett said. “But it gives the kids a chance to compete and follow tournament rules. The state tournament is always interesting because the Central teams never get a chance to play the West teams until then. So there’s always that suspense and excitement there.”

The Panthers play their first official match of the season on Tuesday at Greystone against Searcy. They will travel to Conway on Wednesday.