By Garrett Estrada
Ely Times Staff Writer
Though the White Pine High School golf team claimed state championships last year, coach Randy Long was worried about the programs future at the time. No freshman had come out for the team last year, and with four of his seniors graduating, he was looking at a possibility of being a few golfers short.
“After having no freshman show up last year I was worried where we were headed,” Long said. “I’m excited now to have so many kids that want to play the game. That really bodes well for the future.”
After 10 freshman and one sophomore jointed the team for the first time this year, Long has an entirely different, albeit much better, problem to solve. With six spots open for a meet at Wendover, four positions were already filled by some of Long’s top golfers. To fill the remaining two spots, he left the choice up to the scorecard at practice.
“I refuse to hand pick them,” Long said. “They qualify themselves. They know that if they are good enough that they are going to make it.”
Ty Pickel and Chris Young have already both earned their starting status for the year as Long hopes the two can both make runs at individual state championships. Now a senior, Pickel won individual state championships as a sophomore and placed third last year. According to Long, Young is “hot on his heels” after taking fifth last year as a sophomore.
While Long said the team won state “handily” last year, the loss of his four seniors and the abundance of new, inexperienced players means the team as a whole has its work cut out for it if they want to go all the way again this year. In their first meet of the year, the team collectively shot a 446 in a 9 stroke loss against Battle Mountain, equaling the highest total the team shot all of last season. Mother Nature isn’t helping the team either, with the cold temperatures keeping players off of the covered greens during practice.
“We’ve had weather limiting our practices, which means our guys can’t really work on their short game, an area we’ve always excelled at,” Long said.
The golf team will host its first home meet on April 9 against Battle Mountain.