Heading into the 2019 Blue Jay golf season, a real foundation had been laid for success and growth with strong leadership and a bevy of young talent. Unfortunately, all it takes to set that process back is losing an entire season which is what happened to everyone in 2020.
“You know it was rough,” head coach Brian Sturges said. “We had built on the year before that and the last couple years before that and then you get there, you have a few practices, a week of practices and all the sudden you’re just done. So to not be able to be around those kids and help them out with their golf game (was tough). It also made it tough for this season because you didn’t know who was coming back because there was no previous year. That’s why our roster has kind of been kind of in flux a little bit because we’ve been trying to figure out who’s gonna be here.”
As things stand now, the Junction City boys’ golf team will taut two main returners who will be varsity mainstays with a group of underclassmen who could certainly work their way up to that level as the season and their skill progresses.
“Dylan Hayden is one of my seniors,” Sturges said. “He hasn’t been out here a lot yet, just had some other obligations going on, Fabian Michael’s a junior this year. He was the kid who as a freshman came out and worked hard and would’ve had a chance to play varsity last year so I’m excited for what he’s going to do and those are my two big returners right there. And after that, it comes down to just a lot of new guys who, some have experienced and some don’t.”
Both Hayden and Michael did not let quarantine hinder their progress on the links. Both upperclassmen found ways to get in practice and keep their skills sharp over the year-long hiatus.
“Luckily over quarantine, our core guys really got out and played more,” Sturges said. “That was something that previously had not ever happened. So to hear those guys say that they’ve been out playing golf, that was very promising to hear. That’s just the thing I like about our roster right now is we’ve got a few seniors and several juniors to kind of show the way and we’ve got a lot of freshmen and sophomores. Some have never played golf before but I told them to come out and now I’ve got three or four years to teach them.”
Michael has his eye on making the state field this season and hopes that steady play will be a key in making that jump.
“I want to place in a couple of tournaments and I’d like to qualify for state,” Micheal said. “Next year I want to worry about placing at state but for right now, I’m just focusing on qualifying.
“I need to work on staying consistent. That’s the big thing right now. I can play pretty good when I’m playing consistently but I still need to clean it up a little bit.”
The Blue Jays still have a little less than a month before their season gets started on April 12th with an Invitational at Manhattan Country Club.