Basalt boys golf wins opener
After his team’s 11th-place result at the 4A state golf championships last fall, Basalt coach Pat Riley said expectations for 2006 were high.His players must’ve been listening. The Longhorns, who return all four players from last year’s state squad, opened the new season Thursday by winning the Grand Valley Invitational at Battlement Mesa. Two Basalt golfers – juniors Connor Rakowski (75) and Jim Knous (75) – finished one shot back of winner Eric Farmer of Delta.The Longhorns’ combined score of 228 was six strokes better than that of Steamboat Springs. Aspen, led by senior Matt Butler’s 76, finished eighth in the 21-team field.”I expected them to play this well,” Riley said. “My goal for the season was to have Connor and Jim shoot around par, and for Nick [Johnson] to shoot between 76 and 78. If we do that, we’ll should always be in contention – and we will.”Surprisingly, Basalt’s debut could’ve been even more impressive. Rakowski was well on his way to winning the tournament,Riley said, when he was derailed by an errant tee shot on No. 11 that sailed out of bounds. Rakowski regrouped, but bogeyed 18 and finished 3-over par.”It wasn’t one of his better driving days,” Riley said. “I know [Rakowski and Knous] expect to do better.”Despite the miscues, three Longhorns finished in the top 10, and four finished in the top 20. Senior Johnson shot a 78, and senior Bryan Mason recorded an 81.While he didn’t record any points for the Longhorns, Riley said he was thoroughly impressed by the play of freshman Marty Knous, who shot 87.”I expect Marty to do really well this year. He has the game to play in the low 80s right now,” Riley said. “He’s always in competition with his brother [Jim], and it’s paying off.” For the Skiers, life after Teddy Karlinski proved difficult. While Butler shined in his debut as the team’s clear No. 1, the other four showed their lack of experience, coach Henry Adams said. “For two boys, this was the first tournament they’ve ever played in. There was a little bit of nerves,” Adams said. “The start of the season is always guesswork. We had three graduating seniors. We lost Teddy who finished second in the state last year. We have unproven players, so we’ll have to see how it all plays out.”It looks like Matt will step up and be a very solid No.1, and we’ll try to build the team around him.”Skiers freshman Conor Hansen shot an 88, Junior Trent Manchester an 89, sophomore Taylor Huskie a 90 and Gerald Hua a 116. While Adams said all indications point to 2006 being a rebuilding year, he was impressed by the turnout on Monday and Tuesday during a 36-hole team tryout at the Aspen Golf Club. Eighteen players came out, three times that of 1999. Adams hopes an interest in the sport will create a solid program in the years to come.”If we continue to build, when players graduate, there will be 15 other players waiting to take their place,” he said.While their situations are polar opposites, both Adams and Riley will learn much about their teams next week, when both the Skiers and Longhorns play four tournaments.”Maybe we’ll have someone come on strong,” Adams said. “We have 11 tournaments this season, and we just started.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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