March 14, 2008
Sometimes I’ll stop by to visit the Cape Henlopen High School golf team, and become a little jealous.
After all, they spend each weekday afternoon on a golf course. That’s not a schedule I can maintain for my favorite sport.
When I met them on the practice green at Rehoboth Beach Country Club on Monday, March 10, however, there were no such pangs of envy.
It was really, really cold, and really, really windy, with a strong breeze blowing off Rehoboth Bay.
Despite the wintry weather, the Vikings kept busy trying their skills at the challenges set up for them by their head coach, Claudio Smarrelli. On the first test, Smarrelli had the boys try long 7-iron chip shots to a practice hole set at least 30 yards away, over an extended fringe area and a length of green.
On the second challenge I observed, the young golfers attempted long flop shots to the same hole, using their wedges.
As they played, Smarrelli chatted a bit about the upcoming 2008 season.
“We have several players coming back from last year,” he said. “Our returning seniors are Dino Nardo and Travis Shalaby. The others coming back are [juniors] Tristan Karsnitz, Sean Toner, Dan Scrutchfield, and Zachary Murr.”
In addition to the returning Vikings, several new players are joining the varsity squad. Smarrelli said that a new transfer student, sophomore Casey Anderson, “is a real long ball hitter.” He’s accompanied by several freshmen, including Matt Kersey, Devin Medd, and Nick Purnell.
Jack Kersey is Smarrelli’s new assistant coach. Besides helping with the varsity, Kersey will help oversee the junior varsity squad. As in prior years, these golfers will play and practice golf at Marsh Island Golf Course this spring, developing their skills in preparation for their eventual time on the varsity team.
At this point, the JV squad includes Matthew Blackburn, Meghan Colegrove, Shannon Desmond, Christopher Hardy, Paul Jang, James Johnson, Connor Jones, William Makowski, Ryan Nelson, Christopher Ragni, Andrew Ricker, Mark Schatz, and Brett Simmons.
The Vikings’ first match takes place on April 1, a week later than in recent years, most likely due to this year’s early Easter break. They’ll travel to Wild Quail Country Club to face their usual opening day opponents, the Caesar Rodney Riders.
Rehoboth Beach Country Club will continue its tradition of public support for junior golf, by maintaining its status as the Vikings’ regular home course. At least two home matches will also be held at Kings Creek Country Club, showing again how the Cape Region golf community supports its high school team.
The match schedule includes the usual Henlopen Conference golf teams such as Dover, Indian River, Seaford, and Milford. They are also playing non-conference squads, including Delmarva Christian and perennial upstate powerhouse Salesianum. Their regular season ends May 13 against Woodbridge, whose team is making its first appearance on the golf course this year.
If the Vikings play well enough, they will be among the top teams competing for the Henlopen Conference championship. If they finish among the top 16 teams in the state after the regular season, they will qualify for the State Championship tournament. The Vikings have never missed that opportunity, and the current crop of players has every intention of keeping that streak alive.
Windy enough for you?
During the Saturday round at the recent PGA Tour event at the Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course, near Tampa Bay, Florida, the pros drove into a strong wind on the 590-yard, double-dogleg par 5 14th hole. NBC announcer Johnny Miller told his listeners that the average drive on that hole on Saturday was just over 240 yards. With little or no wind on Sunday, however, the pros averaged just over 280 yards off the tee on the same hole.
NBC did amateur golfers a big favor by pointing out this huge difference in results. If PGA Tour pros lose 40 yards in a big headwind, their experience should help the rest of us more readily accept our own less than perfect results, when playing on the typically windy days of the spring golf season.