Nine Grant Union/Prairie City Prospector golfers enjoyed their first sunny days of the season, practicing at the John Day Golf Club last week after holding practice for several days in the Heritage Barn at the Grant County Fairgrounds because of ankle-deep snow.
“They’ve been improving on the green grass for a week,” said head coach Ron Lundbom.
The Prospector boys have three returning state competitors: senior Garrett Lenz and sophomores Devon Stokes and Parker Manitsas. Freshman Maverick Miller practiced with the team last year as an eighth-grader, and freshman Logan Namitz is new to the team.
The girls team includes juniors Emily Springer, Kaytlyn Wells and Maddy Way and freshman Billy Radinovich.
“Our team is really welcoming to new people,” Wells said, adding the members talk with each other on the course and in the hallways at school.
Wells said she’s also looking forward to competing with girls on the other teams.
“I’m getting back into the swing of golf,” she said.
Springer said she’s happy with the progress she’s made each season.
“I’m excited to control my driving,” she said, and was looking forward to an upcoming competition.
Lenz said his personal goal is to make it back to state, at least as an individual.
“From the looks of it, I should be in the top notch of golfers,” he said. “My swing is looking good, and I’m ready to see what the season has to come.”
Stokes said the team is young this year, but he believes the boys have a good chance at districts to qualify for state.
“It’s going to be a really good season,” said Manitsas. “We have strong golfers out this year, and I’m looking forward to the outcome.”
Last season, the boys team placed 12th at state.
Two on that team to state are not returning, including Duane Stokes who graduated and Kellen Shelley who moved.
Lundbom said his returning players, girls and boys, are performing well. He said Lenz has the talent to return to state.
“They seem to be taking off from where they were last year — not a big learning curve,” he said.
The boys team will be in the 3A/2A/1A Special District 3 with 14 opponents.
The girls will be in the 4A/3A/2A/1A Special District 4 with 20 opponents.
A few of the Prospector teams’ shared competition includes Burns, Enterprise, Vale, Heppner and Burnt River.
“Heppner has two to three boys who’ve been improving their score every year,” Lundbom said. “They have good coaching and lots of numbers.”
Cove, Nixyaawii and Echo graduated some of their top golfers, he said.
The Prospectors competed on Friday at the Echo Hills Golf Course in Echo. Several Prospectors were unable to attend the competition because of FFA and FBLA events. The golf tournament had been rescheduled because of previous inclement weather.
Lenz placed third for the boys, scoring a 93. Springer scored 126 for the girls.
“I was pleased with how the kids did out there, having so little practice,” Lundbom said.
He said the team members have good attitudes.
“It’s just dialing it in,” he said. “We’ll wait for the sun and for things to click.”
He said he’s confident they’ll reach their goals for the season.
“I want the boys in the low 80s and the girls in the mid-90s,” he said. “They have the ability.”
Grant Union/Prairie City golf schedule
April 5: @ Pendleton Invite at Pendleton Country Club, 8 a.m.
April 11: @ Heppner Invite at Heppner Golf Course, 11 a.m.
April 12: @ Wildhorse Invite at Wildhorse Golf Course in Pendleton, 10 a.m.
April 17: @ Burns Invitational at Valley Golf Club, 11 a.m.
April 19: GUHS Invitational at the John Day Golf Club, 11 a.m.
April 26: @ Enterprise Invitational at Alpine Meadows, 11 a.m.
May 3: @ 2A Invitational at Buffalo Peaks Golf Course, 10 a.m.
May 5: Districts at Pendleton Country Club, TBA
May 6: Districts at Pendleton Country Club, TBA
May 7: Districts at Pendleton Country Club, TBA
May 12: State Championship at Emerald Valley-Creswell, TBA
May 13: State Championship at Emerald Valley-Creswell, TBA
May 14: State Championship at Emerald Valley-Creswell, TBA