WHS has a few aces up its sleeve
Coach: Steve Maltase, second year
Last year: Nevada 2A state and zone champions
Top returners: Ryan Salomon, sr., defending individual state champion; Cary White, sr.; Patrick Flanagan, jr.; Parker Fox, jr.; and Brian Jones, jr.
Key to season: How quickly the Warriors find a consistent scorer to fill the sixth spot.
Season opener: On Friday, the Warriors will serve as hosts for five schools in their annual icebreaker tournament at Genoa Lakes.
The deck is already stacked against the Nevada 2A golf teams with Whittell High returning five of six starters from last year’s state championship team. Making matters more difficult for the wanna-be title dethroners is the fact that Lake Tahoe’s balmy late-winter conditions have allowed the Warriors to use nearby Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course’s driving range earlier than any time in recent memory.
“We get a little more practice time up here because you take away the travel time and darkness,” said second-year WHS coach Steve Maltase, whose squad normally makes the 30-minute commute into the valley to practice at the Golf Club at Genoa Lakes. “We’re fortunate the guys at Edgewood are giving us the opportunity this early in the year.”
Of course, with local courses closed for six to seventh months at a time, Whittell players don’t have the opportunity play as often as many other players in Nevada during the off-season.
Still, Maltase sees no reason why his players won’t be tossing him in a lake to celebrate a second straight state title in May.
“There’s a little bit of pressure on the guys. They definitely have every opportunity to repeat,” Maltase said. “But we do need a couple of guys to step up and fill that last spot. We need those five guys to be consistent throughout the year.”
If Maltase is worried about consistency from his yet-to-be determined sixth man, he has little concern with his No. 1 player. Senior Ryan Salomon returns as the defending state champion — a title he won from graduated teammate Keith Truswell in a memorable 36-hole duel that ended with them only two strokes apart.
“You can’t really ask for more than a state champion and MVP returning, not to mention those four other guys who led us to the state title,” Maltase said.
The talented quartet includes junior senior Cary White and juniors Parker Fox, Patrick Flanagan and Brian Jones Jr.
Salomon was the best closer in the state a year ago. After not finishing atop the leaderboard in any of the regular-season events, Salomon concluded the campaign by taking medalist honors at zone and state.
“He has a big influence on our whole team,” Fox said. “He’s a leader … a real positive guy who never puts anyone down. He helps a lot of guys out with the game mentally and their golf games as well.”
A larger than normal turnout by the freshman class has added a couple of foursomes to this week’s tryouts. Last year, only 16 players tried to make the squad, but 24 turned out Monday when practice began.
There will be little time to fine-tune the swings as the Warriors tee it up Friday in their annual icebreaker tournament at Genoa Lakes. South Tahoe, Incline, Lowry, Manogue and Truckee will also compete in the 11 a.m. event.
“I’m real excited for the season. I think we’re going to do just as well as last year,” Fox said. “We do have a little pressure because we have this big reputation now, but I don’t think most of the guys are worried about it.”
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