Sailors golf team hopes to repeat state success without key players
Departures have left top spots open for players to claim this season
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Following the 2018 season, the Steamboat Springs High School golf team thought it was losing just one Rotermund with the graduation of Jack; however, thanks to the family’s move to the East Coast, the team also will be playing without junior Ollie and incoming freshman Max.
The Sailors also lost junior Ryan McNamara, who moved to New Hampshire to play hockey.
“We pretty much would have had a dream team this year for golf,” senior Tommy Henninger said.
Having that caliber of team following a second-place finish at state last fall would have been a potential championship scenario. While that may or may not still be possible, there is a huge positive for other team members in the Rotermunds’ absence with two of the top four spots left open.
With state-qualifier Henninger returning, he takes one spot on the four-man roster that heads to regionals.
Junior Beck Kuhlman will take on the next open spot, and the remaining two are up for grabs. Sophomore Travis Seitz likely has the third position sealed.
“Travis, right now, has a pretty good hold on three, but it’s golf. Anything could happen,” Sailors head coach Andrew Donner said. “You could have someone all of a sudden start lighting things up, but those three are probably pretty solidified. That fourth spot, I’ve got freshman, juniors, seniors and sophomores all battling for it.”
During his nine years with the team, Donner said the fight for No. 4 might be the biggest battle he’s ever seen for the Sailors.
Aug. 21: at Black Canyon
Aug. 22: at Cobble Creek
Aug. 26: at Bookcliff
Aug. 27: at Tiara Rado
Aug. 28: at Rifle Creek
Sept. 3: at Aspen
Sept. 4: at Yampa Valley
Sept. 5: Haymaker
Sept. 17: at Vail
Sept. 19: at Keystone
Senior Jack Thompson could potentially take that spot.
“I’ve always been hanging around that five, six spot and only the top four go to regionals,” he said. “You hate to see our team go down a little bit, but it’s nice to give me something to work for, knowing I have a chance rather than just knowing the top four are sealed.”
This year, if he makes it back to the biggest stage, Henninger said he’s hoping to be a top-five finisher. Additionally, he wants to come out on top at Keystone, a course where he occasionally struggles.
“It’s not the most difficult of courses, but the round always takes three hours longer than it’s supposed to, so it’s hard to get into a rhythm,” he said. “That’s a tournament that not a lot of high-level schools go to, so this year, I’m looking to win that one.”
As for Thompson, he’s aiming to consistently swing in the 70s. In addition to that, Thompson doesn’t want to say, “I just got Craig’d” after a round on Yampa Valley Golf Course on Sept. 4.
“It’s not a very tough course, but you start to get in those trees, and it really just starts to beat you down mentally,” Thompson said. “The greens are tough. If you get above the hole, you’re pretty much an automatic two- or three-putt. I’ve definitely got to go there and turn my game on.”
If the team gets off to a slow start at its opener at Montrose on Wednesday, Aug. 21, Sailor fans shouldn’t fret. Donner said a rocky beginning is typical for his team, which tends to peak at the right time, at regionals.
Regardless of who goes, the Sailors will try to follow up their impressive performance at state, where Jack took fourth overall, Ollie placed 10th and Henninger took 14th. Still, Donner hopes they don’t feel pressured to do so.
“With golfers, I think we understand more so than most sports that tomorrow is another day, another round of golf, another season,” Donner said. “No matter what you want to replicate, golf is just so different from day to day. I think they have a strong understanding that this is a whole new scenario.”
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