Licking Heights Roundup
Boys golf squad relying on Bailey, returnees
The Licking Heights High School boys golf team is hoping to show improvement this season with five letterwinners returning.
First-year coach Todd Righter said he was surprised the first time he saw the players on the course.
"There is a lot more talent out there than I thought when I took over," said Righter, who replaced one-year coach Ty Yount. "I have high hopes. The kids enjoy the sport and they want the program to succeed.
"I'm just excited to go out there and show them some things. I think the first part is to get them ready for the game between the ears."
Expected to lead the way is senior Andrew Bailey, who earned first-team all-league honors last season as the Hornets finished 8-10 in the MSL-Cardinal Division to place fourth behind champion Fisher Catholic (16-2), Grandview (15-3) and Liberty Union (14-4). Millersport (7-11), West Jefferson (3-15) and Berne Union (0-18) rounded out the standings.
Bailey was the Hornets' top player last season, but he struggled with an 83 in a Division I sectional tournament at Granville Golf Course and did not advance to district. Licking Heights shot a 375 to finish 12th in the 14-team field.
"The sky is the limit for Bailey," said Righter, whose team opened Aug. 10 in the Grandview Invitational at Oakhurst. "He's got confidence and the game to go as far as he wants."
Junior Jon Kenney, a left-hander who was second-team all-league last fall, shot an 88 at sectional. He complements Bailey's power game with a deft touch and finesse, according to Righter.
"Kenney and Bailey push one another and play off each other in every round, although their games are different," Righter said. "Both are very dependable and can advance to district as individuals.
"But what I'd like to see happen is the others step up and push each other for those three final spots. If they do that consistently, we can shoot good team scores, too. I like the fact that those others spots are still up for grabs because it's motivating them all."
Leading the early battle for the remaining spots are senior Jon Righter, juniors Dillon Colopy, Kait Dunbrack and Zach Marcum and freshman Troy Hickman. Dunbrack, Marcum and Jon Righter are returnees.
Jon Righter is the nephew of coach Righter, who is a 2-handicap.
"The kids have been receptive thus far, but because we're in the middle of qualifying, I'm not instructing them with their swings or anything like that," coach Righter said. "We haven't had much practice time.
"After the tryouts, we'll start tweaking some swings and looking hard at their fundamentals. We had 17 kids at tryouts and we're keeping 12 in the program, with eight on varsity and four on j.v. Then we'll rotate players off varsity to compete with the j.v."