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HHS golfers ready to start season

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Hays High School golf coach Mark Watts said he hasn't seen such poor weather this early in the season in his 25 years of coaching.

As of Tuesday, senior golfer Ryan Unruh estimated only getting in "eight solid practices" because of it, so the Indians' preparation isn't where they would like it to be heading into their season-opening meets this week. Hays High was scheduled to start the season Monday at Salina, but that was postponed and HHS will not compete.

Hays High is scheduled to compete at 2 p.m. Thursday at Turkey Creek Golf Course in McPherson and 9 a.m. Saturday at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course in Garden City.

"It will be interesting our first couple of tournaments, but after that, we'll get into a groove and be ready to go," Unruh said.

The Indians have attempted to make the best of the weather, playing on the golf simulators at Precision Valley in Hays, but Watts said its not the same as getting out on a golf course.

"We'd sure like to hit some more balls because we haven't been able to practice like we'd like to," Watts said.

Hays High has a young, and yet experienced, squad this season.

The Indians' top seven includes a senior, three juniors, two sophomores and a freshman, and five of their varsity players were on last season's eighth-best team in Class 5A, including all-state sophomore Nathan Romme.

"We do have experience coming back, and they all play about the same," Watts said.

Watts said his squad is seven deep this season and expects it to be a battle for varsity spots. No one's spot is safe, he said.

"It's going to be competitive this year," Watts said. "I told them we don't have any exemptions."

Unruh, Romme, junior Kaden Beilman, junior Lane Clark, junior Chase Lynd, sophomore Cash Hobson and freshman Payton Ruder are expected to vie for varsity positions.

Last year, Romme emerged as one of the Indians' top players after graduating a strong core from 2011's squad.

Unruh said he expects others to step up in a similar fashion this season. He said he already has noticed significant improvement from Romme and Beilman and believes Ruder will make a name for himself, despite being just a freshman.

"We have lots of talent on this team," Unruh said.

Unruh, who has played on Hays High's past three state-qualifying teams, said he would like to make it to a fourth Class 5A tournament this season.

"I know we definitely have the talent to make it back to state this year," he said.