ALPENA — Weather and playing conditions haven’t been too kind to the Alpena High boys golf team to start the season.
But over the last few weeks, the Wildcats have shown their mettle, overcoming weather and course conditions to turn in some solid scores. As the weather continues to improve, Alpena coach Tate Skiba is confident the Wildcats will only get better.
“I’ve been impressed so far. The boys have been playing in tough conditions, but they’ve been able to gut out some decent rounds in bad conditions,” Skiba said. “In our past two tournaments, we’ve lost to just Traverse City Central and Traverse City West. When you beat everybody in the field except those two teams, that’s impressive.”
After several years as Alpena’s girls golf coach, this is Skiba’s first season leading Alpena’s boys team. Former coach Eric Mitchell and Alpena alum Ryan Hendricks are helping as assistant coaches as well, giving Alpena’s golfers multiple resources to draw from during the season.
In Skiba’s first season, the Wildcats have a solid mix of golfers in their lineup that have already impressed early in the season.
Junior Gavin Hamp has been one of Alpena’s top finishers, recording top-10 finishes in each of Alpena’s last two tournaments.
“He’s a really good golfer. He knows what his strengths are and he plays to those strengths,” Skiba said.
Right there with Hamp is junior Easton Schultz, who Skiba believes is right on the cusp of breaking out this season.
“He’s got a ton of potential. He practices a lot and he’s one good tournament away from shooting a super low score,” Skiba said.
The rest of Alpena’s varsity lineup included juniors Anden Marceau and Bailie Alexander and seniors Austin Prue and Andrew LaFleure.
“He’s got the potential to be a top-10 guy,” Skiba said of Prue. “Anden has made good strides and Bailie and Andrew LaFleure have been really steady for us.”
Alpena’s lineup has already shown its potential and as the Wildcats get into the meat of their schedule, Skiba hopes to see his team keep improving, especially against the tougher teams on their schedule.
“If we’re going to be a team that’s going to compete with Central, West and the rest of the Big North, you have to have five guys that can card good scores and we have a lineup that can do that,” Skiba said.