Golf preview: Wolves eager to get into the swing of things

Date Opponent Location
Thursday Lincoln McCormick Woods
April 7 Foss McCormick Woods
April 14 Central Kitsap Kitsap Golf Club, Bremerton
April 19 Gig Harbor McCormick Woods
April 21 Mount Tahoma Meadow Park, Tacoma
April 26 Olympia Tumwater Valley
April 28 Shelton McCormick Woods
May 3 Stadium North Shore, Tacoma
May 5 Bellarmine Prep McCormick Woods
• All boys matches tee off at 2:45, while girls start 30 minutes later

Coaches: Sean Duttry (boys), 13th season; Mandy Wood (girls), fifth season.Key returners: Boys: Vince Bachteler, so.; Owen Matheson, jr.; Graham Pernell, sr.; Zach Prince, sr.; Blake Staudenraus, sr.; Steven Wood, sr. Girls: Marissa Casanova, so.; Melissa Pratt, sr.; Kaitlyn Spellman, jr.Key departures: Boys: Michael Lacey, graduated. Girls: Kayla Cole, graduated; Andrea Wessel, graduated.Top newcomers: Boys: Jaron Burbank, so.; Derek Crenshaw, so.; Alex Townsend, fr. Girls: Natalie Feeney, so.; Kylie Wong, so.

They have returned to the links.Here is a look at South Kitsap’s boys and girls golf teams: BoysExperience and depth are not a concern for coach Sean Duttry.

After all, the Wolves feature a trio of seniors — Zach Prince, Blake Staudenraus and Steven Wood — whom he said all could emerge as their No. 1 golfer.

What South might lack, though, is one dominant player. Michael Lacey, who is now attending Washington State University, was the Wolves’ only state qualifier a year ago.

“He was a pretty big asset to the team,” Staudenraus said. “We’ve got to step up.”

Duttry believes each of his seniors has an opportunity to reach that level, but said they must become more consistent.

“This year I want them to eliminate the big numbers in one round,” Duttry said. “I think that was their biggest downfall last year. We kind of have to mature past that.”

Staudenraus believes that will happen. He said he spent part of the summer competing against golfers from Colorado State University, where his grandfather is an assistant coach, and now shoots around 40 per nine holes.

“He smoothed out my stroke,” said Staudenraus, who plans to play tennis at Eastern Washington. “My mechanics have improved a lot.”

Duttry said the trio of seniors do not have a stranglehold on the top positions. He said sophomore Vince Bachteler will begin the season in the No. 4 spot, but could move up.

“He works really hard,” Duttry said. “He might just blossom.”

Junior Owen Matheson is expected to hold the No. 5 position, while senior Graham Pernell competes against four underclassmen for the final varsity spot.

Duttry said that combination of talent and experience should result in a finish near the top of the Class 4A Narrows League.

But he is not certain how many of his competitors will advance to state. That is because 4A Narrows only has five guaranteed spots from the postseason tournament at Lake Spanaway Golf Course to state unlike the dozen it had in the past.

“It’s always tough for us because Bellarmine is always going to take five spots,” Duttry said.

After that tournament, the 4A Narrows’ next seven placers at Lake Spanaway will compete against those who did not automatically qualify from the Greater Saint Helens League and South Puget Sound League for the remaining state spots that were pooled together.

“In the end, we’re supposed to have better players qualifying for state,” said Duttry, adding that he does not have an opinion on the change because he has not experienced it before. GirlsIt is a description that could fit most of the South’s athletic programs: a core of sophomores and few seniors. The Wolves’ girls golf team is no different. Melissa Pratt, who has played on varsity since her freshman year, is the team’s lone senior.

But coach Mandy Wood said Pratt is limited by an injury to a finger on her left hand suffered while working with Future Farmers of America.

Wood said she does not believe the injury will affect Pratt throughout the season. She said sophomore Marissa Casanova will vie with Pratt for the No. 1 position.

“I think that will push both of them in a healthy, positive way,” Wood said.

Casanova leads a core of sophomores who make up four of South’s top seven golfers. But Casanova is the only one among the quartet who is expected to be among the Wolves’ top four competitors.

“I’ve seen growth in her even from last year,” Wood said. “If not this year, (state) is in her future.”

She also is excited about the rest of the group. Wood said Delaney Triplett holds the fifth spot on varsity, while newcomers Natalie Feeney and Kylie Wong are expected to vie for the final position.

“I’m excited we have so many sophomores who want to play,” she said. “They’re really, really dedicated.”

Wood called this season “kind of a building year,” but also is excited about the prospect to further develop her golfers. That includes a pair of juniors — Kaitlyn Spellman and Mayghan Thon — who are expected to earn the third and fourth varsity positions, respectively.

“They both have shown so much improvement from last season,” Wood said. “I couldn’t even believe it.”


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