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Patterson likes potential of young Vikings

Michael Traum

There’s a youth movement swinging at South Tahoe High.

Six freshmen and no seniors make up this year’s boys golf team. Add to that five returners, and fourth-year coach Mike Patterson sees potential for his Vikings to contend for one of the top eight zone spots in the Northern Nevada 4A league.

“We’re really young. But we should get better as the season rolls along,” said Patterson, whose team has combined to shoot 249 and 250 in two nine-hole matches so far. “We set goals to improve each time out. And the kids want to do their best and beat as many teams as they can.”

Like every other spring sport at STHS, the golf team has had to make concessions for wintry conditions. The Vikes have traveled to the Golf Club at Genoa Lakes four or five times, a club which has traditionally welcomed snow-bound teams to it’s green fairways.

For a team that normally practices in Patterson’s auto shop at the high school, Tahoe has welcomed the outside practice. The 4A season began one week earlier this year.

“We usually have a couple of weeks instead of a couple of days of practice. I don’t think 249 is indicative of how we’ll play once we get accustomed to hitting off grass,” Patterson said.

Sophomore James Petersen, along with juniors Kip Gstettenbauer, Brian Huber, Ricky Wasilchuk, Dan Spencer and Jeff Johnson make up the returning core, while freshmen Patrick Curtis and Brian Ware have seen action early in the season, with Ware posting the Vikes’ low round of 46 on Tuesday at Lakeridge in Reno.

But don’t think it’s a case of senior discrimination for Tahoe. Patterson’s guidelines for a 12th-grader to make the team are to post scores in the group’s top six. And it just didn’t happen.

“Seniors have to help the team by being in the top six. Otherwise, we’re going to give the younger kids some experience,” he said.

The Vikings will play in more than 15 matches against 4A and other Nevada and California teams. But just two zone qualifiers, on May 1 in Elko and May 8 in Dayton or Wingfield Springs, will determine which eight teams out of 13 continue to the zone playoffs May 14 and 15 at Desert Lakes in Fernley.

Last year, South Tahoe was 10th after the first qualifier but failed to improve when it hosted the second qualifier at Lake Tahoe Golf Course and did not make zone.

“It’s going to be just like last year. There will be a handful of us shooting for the sixth, seventh and eighth spots,” said Patterson, who expects Galena, Douglas, Reno and Carson to battle in the top four.

South Tahoe next plays today at Wildcreek in Reno before heading to Pahrump in Southern Nevada for the weekend.

Team note: This is the fourth year of the South Tahoe boys and girls golf program. According to Patterson, the school district originally allotted three years for the team, a time period in which it would have to be self-funded. After the three years, the district would determine if it would fund the team, leave it self-funded or drop the program. Last year’s fund-raiser at Lake Tahoe Golf Course earned enough money for a fourth year. But the course, according to Patterson, has said it can’t offer the same kind of benefit tournament this year. Patterson was unsure whether the team would be funded next year.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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