Friday, July 18, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville golf set for season two

Leader sports editor

With the high school golf season rapidly approaching, Jacksonville is ready to begin its second year of competition, and will do so with one returning player who qualified for the state tournament last year.

Senior Jeremy Wilson tops the list of three returners and one newcomer to the Red Devil boys golf team. Wilson had very little experience when Jacksonville was an upstart program last season, but head coach Max Hatfield said he was the team’s most improved player from beginning of the season to the end.

“Jeremy worked on it and ended up finishing high enough in conference to qualify for state,” Hatfield said. “He’s been taking lessons and he’s been playing in tournaments. He’s been working hard. He wants to be good and he works at it. And he will be if he keeps working. He just got such a late start at the game he’s got a lot of ground to try to make up.”

Senior John Hermann and sophomore Tyler Cox also return for their second year, while sophomore Cody Anderson joined the team this summer.

“John has a good swing but he’s spent a lot of his summer at football camps and things like that,” Hatfield said. “He’s the kicker and he’s pretty good at that. Cody just joined us so I don’t really have a really good idea of where he’s at right now.”

Junior Haley Elmore is the only female player on the team right now. Hatfield lost his top female golfer, Nicole Hardison, who moved to Highland. Hardison just barely missed qualifying for state last season, but Hatfield said a few rounds with Elmore this summer show a marked improvement from her form last year.

“Haley has taken some lessons from the same guy Jeremy has, Tommy Rutherford,” Hatfield said. “She’s played in some tournaments over the summer, too. I’ve played with her a few times and there’s a noticeable improvement. She’s hitting the driver really well. It’s huge to play in those summer tournaments to get that experience in real competition.”

The season begins on Aug. 4 in a six-team match at Hickory Creek Golf Course outside Jacksonville. Sylvan Hills, North Pulaski, Robinson, Mills and England will compete.

The rosters are not set and more interested students are encouraged to sign up, he said.

“Hopefully we’ll get some more interest once school starts and a few more will come out,” Hatfield said. “If anyone is interested they need to call the high school and they will get them in touch with me. They take the top four scores in boys and the top three in girls for team competition, but you can enter as many as you want into an event, so everyone will get to play.”