Indians host 5A regional Monday
By AUSTIN COLBERT
What Hays High School junior Lexie Schaben remembers most about last year's regional golf tournament isn't her strong finish, but how nervous she was at the start.
"I whiffed my first shot, so I definitely hope I don't do that again," Schaben said. "That was kind of embarrassing. I just need to have more confidence in my swing and I hope our team does really well this year."
The Indains will host a Class 5A regional golf tournament on Monday at Smoky Hill Country Club, its home course. Hays High will host Great Bend, Liberal, Newton, Salina Central and Salina South.
Of the six varsity golfers, only Schaben and fellow junior Elissa Jensen have experience playing at a regional tournament. The Indians have three freshmen playing varsity in Rhian Patterson, Taylor DeBoer and Katie Brungardt, the team's low scorer this season. Junior Macie Mayo is a newcomer to the team this season.
It will be this inexperienced group that looks to get the Indians back to state, where they finished sixth in Class 5A last season, and were state runner ups in 2011.
"I didn't really expect us to do as well as we did this year," Jensen said. "We are such a young team. I didn't know how much ability they had with golf. We were kind of worried about it, me and Lexie. But it's been a really good year. Some of them are actually really advanced in golf and I think we'll do good at regionals."
Schaben and Jensen have both taken leadership roles this season and their experience could be valuable to the younger players that have never competed at a regional tournament.
Neither has had the season that was expected of them, especially Schaben, who was the team's top finisher at state a year ago, finishing 17th. Nonetheless, expectations are high for each coming into Monday's regional.
"Elissa has our best swing on the golf team. She is going to put it together," Hays High golf coach Mark Watts said. "(Schaben) hasn't had the season that she would have liked to have had, but she's got the tools ... I'm counting on her to put it all together."
The main reason the team, including the freshmen, are confident about Monday is the fact that the regional is played at their home course. Smoky Hill Country Club has a lot more trees and water than what many of the other teams are used to seeing.
With Hays High's knowledge of how to play this course, the Indians expect to have a major advantage over the other teams.
"It's a really big advantage," Jensen said. "Our course is one of the hardest ones we play all year. But since we play it a lot I think we should do pretty well."
Monday's regional is scheduled to tee off at 10 a.m.