Devils, Huskies ready for regional
EAGLE COUNTY – There won’t be any second-guessing when Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley tee off at Battlement Mesa Golf Club Thursday in the opening round of the 4A western regional. Both teams played practice rounds at the regional golf course site last week and will also get in one more practice round on Wednesday before strokes on their scorecards will count toward a berth in the state tournament.Huskies coach Cassie Desmone and Devils coach Glen Ewing both said the motivation behind playing some rounds on the 6,799-yard course before the regional was simple: they both wanted their players to feel relaxed and confident when it comes time to playing in the most important tournament of the season. Ewing’s team actually skipped a tourney in Montrose last week for the sole purpose of sorting out who would be the fourth member of the regional team. The coach held a three-player, practice-round shootout between juniors David Earle, Shelton Adams and freshmen Ethan Smith on the Battlement Mesa links, during which Smith emerged as the front-runner.
Meanwhile, the three Devils players who had already locked up their regional spots – seniors Zach Coe and James Ewing and junior Ben Morris -were able work on course management with an assistant coach. “Obviously, it was kind of my coaching decision that (going to Battlement Mesa) would help us out more than going over to Montrose,” Ewing said. “I think that they should be ready to go. All three of those guys are going to go for it on Thursday. We’re not going to hold anything back. If we have a good day, we’ll send somebody to state. If we don’t have a good day, we’ll have some really high scores.”Hungry Huskies
Desmone wasn’t faced with a predicament such as Ewing’s since seniors Austin Chow, Clint Wilson, Ben Domenico, and sophomore Clay Wilson were without question the best four golfers on the Battle Mountain roster this season based on average score.The Huskies made sure to get out to Battlement Mesa as well, though, because Desmone has two players in Chow and Clint Wilson who won’t be happy with anything less than a state berth. As the old adage goes, practice makes perfect, and the two Huskies’ standouts hope to be just that.The course work was also imperative for Domenico and Clay Wilson because there is the possibility that if those two play well enough, the entire team could go to state. “I know that Clint and Austin are pretty much set on going to state,” Desmone said. “They’re pretty strong-willed. I’m hoping to get those two as individuals, if I don’t get the whole team to go.
“Ben had a little trouble with putting the day we played there. He putted forty times. But, if we can eliminate three quarters of those and Clay plays well, which he is capable of doing, then we could go as a team. If Clay can get another 78 or 79, then we’ll see.”The stellar freshmenIn making the regional team, Smith may be the first player ever to do so as a freshmen at Eagle Valley.
Ewing said he doesn’t know for certain, but he was positive that in his seven years helping the team, including the last two as the head coach, he has never had another first-year player who has made such an immediate impact. The youngster still has a number of things to learn, such as not trying to force as many risky shots, but nonetheless he was the obvious choice for the fourth spot once the two-day practice playoff was finished last week.”Ethan came in virtually 10 strokes a day better,” Ewing said. “He did a nice job of keeping the ball in the fairway. He made some bad choices during the tournament where he was trying to make too many heroic shots when he was trying to get out of somewhere. He also had several four-putts and had trouble chipping. But, on the second day we worked on correcting a lot of those mistakes. They were easy things to fix.”One thing the Devils also hope to fix is the long drought of state appearances. Ewing believes his team has a good shot of sending someone to state for the first time ever in Eagle Valley history, but he believes that can only happen if his golfers play loose and take risks. “This is not the time that we are going to play conservatively,” he said. “We’re going to go for broke and hopefully send somebody to state for the first time ever.”