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Warriors have no weak links going into state tourney

Michael Traum

Experience, depth, attitude, ability … It’s hard to single out a superlative when it comes to describing the 1997 Whittell High boys golf team. But one thing is for sure, as the Warriors enter the Nevada 3A state championships Thursday at Spring Creek – the boys can flat play stick.

“There’s no doubt that all these kids can play golf well,” said Whittell coach Richard Brandt. “Plus they’re an excellent group of kids and their parents are very supportive. All I can ask of them (at state) is to put their best effort forward and I’ll be proud of them.”

The Warriors’ best efforts this season translated into the school’s first division championship since 1994. In a tight, down-to-the-wire race, Whittell won the title last week by just one point over Incline and two points over Manogue.

The group knows that an equal performance at the two-day state finals at Spring Creek Golf Course can only provide more memorable accolades.

“They’ve already got two red placards in the gym that say division champs. They all want one that says state champs,” Brandt said. “This group has bonded quite nicely to become friends and share something they can all talk about for the rest of their lives. Anyone that’s gone through school wants to be able to come back and say I was a part of that.”

Senior Chris Casteleyn knows all to well the meaning behind the weekend’s events. The senior is making his fourth straight trip to the state finals.

“If everybody plays like they’re supposed to, we have a chance to come out victorious. This is the last step,” said Casteleyn, who would’ve finished second as an individual last year if it weren’t for signing an incorrect scorecard, which lead to a disqualification.

“I started off a bit slow this season. But it’s coming around and my swing feels the best it’s been my whole life.”

Joining Casteleyn are seniors Eric Acevedo, Scott Rahbeck and Rocco Bruno, with junior Chad Kolpacoff and freshman Dustin Fox.

Fox, who was the team’s low man in last week’s division title win by carding an 84 at Incline’s championship course, said he’s become increasingly agreeable with his place on the team.

“I was nervous and uncomfortable at first, but I got used to it. I got some help from my dad and I’ve got pretty good confidence on the course now,” Fox said.

Brandt said the team has valued Fox’s effort.

“For a freshman, he’s very mature about the sport. He knows we have a winning tradition the whole process we go through. He’s a very smart, safe player and could be very good in the years to come,” Brandt said.

On May 1, the Warriors (421) finished one stroke behind Truckee (420) and four ahead of Spring Creek (425) in an event at Spring Creek Golf Course. Those teams, along with Moapa Valley, Boulder City and Incline, round out the six teams in the ’97 finals.

Brandt said his squad’s goal will be straightforward – play smart and win the whole thing.

“I’m hoping we can all shoot under 85 the first day. Then we can regroup and analyze the course, see where we can help each other out,” he said. “Every one of these kids wants to succeed and has a tear in their eye when they get a bad score. There’s a lot of pride – these kids are 100 percent Whittell High School.”


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