By GREG KEIM firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — GOSHEN — The four returning letterwinners bring a renewed optimism to the Goshen High School boys golf team for the 2014 season that begins today in the Harrison Invitational at Coyote Crossing Golf Course near West Lafayette.
“We took some lumps last season,” Goshen coach Brent Randall said. “Experience-wise we were pretty young, now we are a little more mature and it’s time to turn the tables.”
The Redskins finished 8-14 overall, 0-7 in the NLC.
“We are focused on winning in the NLC,” the coach said. “It’s no secret we have not won a conference match the last two seasons. There are never any easy wins in the NLC. You have to be ready to compete at a high level every night.”
The 8-14 mark last season was the first time Goshen finished under .500 for the season in Randall’s seven campaigns at the school. He is 98-44 in those seven seasons. Prior to coming to Goshen he coached Bethany Christian for 15 seasons.
The letterwinners are senior Quinn Albin and Alex Hartsough and juniors Michael Chupp and Joel Moyer.
We have plenty of experience this season,” Randall said.
Hartsough will likely be at No. 1 after averaging 40.5 for nine holes a year ago.
“From tee to green Alex’s game is really solid,” the coach said. “His mental preparation is better this season.”
Albin averaged 41.8 last season and is slotted to play No. 2.
“His iron play and touch around the green are the best parts of his game” Randall said. “His short game might be the best on the team. We had a skill test in practice. We put 10 balls in a bunker. The younger kids got one or two out and on the green while Quinn got all 10 out and five of them were within a 10-foot circle.”
Chupp and Moyer both averaged around 43 a year ago and are competing for the No. 3 and No. 4 spots.
“Joel has the perfect demeanor for the game,” Randall said. “He never gets too high or too low. He has an even-keel approach and that is very hard for a coach to teach. It needs to be more natural.
“Michael is such a physically-gifted athlete. He has good rhythm and timing. He does a good job of using his physical skill to his betterment. I played with him in practice the other day and he is a fun player to watch. He was about 60 to 75 yards longer than I was off the tee.
“He sill makes some bad decisions, but has his athletic skills to help overcome them. We talked about a couple of his double bogeys after the practice round and how if had he chosen a different shot he might not have had a par but he would not have had a double.”
One of the things the coach is looking for is a fifth player. So far it’s a competition between junior Brooks Chupp, sophomores Matthew Stevens and Matt Truex.
“Finding the fifth player is going to be interesting,” the coach said. “Truex is going to get the nod on Saturday at Harrison. Coyote Crossing is a challenging course and of the three of them his game seems to be the best suited for the course.
“After Saturday, I think each one of them will get a decent amount of time at the fifth spot.”
Sophomore Victor Moreno is another player that might be in contention for the spot.
“He did not play last season, but played in middle school,” Randall said. “By the first of May when he has gained some experience he could be ready to challenge for the position.”
Also on the roster are junior Tyler Self, junior Jonathon Stutsman, sophomore Jonathan Salisbury and freshman Taylor Cordell.
“Stutsman is another one that is really fun to watch,” Randall said. “He is a football player and a very good athlete. He is one that could really improve. He is probably not going to challenge for a varsity spot this season, but her could next year.”
The Redskins host their invitational on Saturday, April 19 at Maplecrest Country Club.
Goshen will be traveling a lot this season. After the invitational their next home match is on May 1 with Central Noble and the next one isn’t until May 20 with Concord and Warsaw. Their only other home match is on May 22 with Plymouth.
“We are going to be road warriors this season,” the coach said.
Follow sports reporter Greg Keim on twitter @gkeim_TGN.