Alpena boys golf team hopes to be playing its best late in the year

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki The 2019 Alpena High boys golf team is from left to right: back row: Robert Barbato, Andrew Lafluere, Gavin Reed, Jimmy Bolanowski, Jack Schmanski, Keegan Matthews and coach Eric Mitchell; bottom row: assistant coach Ian Stevens, Brian Frisch, Charlie Halleck, Ethan Johnson, Joe Blewett, Josh Meredith, Beau Yuchasz and Matt Hoos.

Since Alpena golf coach Eric Mitchell took over the boys golf program, he and his team face the same challenges each spring.

The Wildcats are unable to get on the course much early in the season behind many of the teams in the state and in the Big North Conference once it begins.

Despite being limited to just putting indoors, the Wildcats have large numbers this year and are a young group with just one senior on the roster.

It is Mitchell’s goal that Alpena will battle through their early season challenges and progress to where they’re playing their best golf at the end of the season.

“The numbers have been pretty good the last couple of years. We’re pretty young with some good junior leadership, but because of the weather, which is an issue every season, we are working in reverse,” Mitchell said. “All we have been working on so far is putting and hopefully within a few days we’ll be able to work on chipping as well, but we’re way behind. I know we’re at least a week out from anything being open here and possibly longer. We’ve had the opportunity to put every day indoors for about an hour and while its not ideal and you’d rather be outdoors, that’s going to be our major focus this year. We cannot miss putts from inside of four feet and we have to finish holes.”

Junior Jack Schmanski will be back for his second year of varsity golf and will be relied heavily upon to score big for the Wildcats this season. Matt Hoos will also return and both Schmanski and Hoos–who were both the No. 2 and 3 golfers for Alpena last year– will be moving up to No. 1 and No. 2 this season.

Along with being standouts on the course, both Schmanski and Hoos provide plenty of leadership.

“It’s been nice to have Jack and Matt around to help everyone out because we’ve been limited to just putting and I only have one set of eyes and can help one person at a time, so it’s very beneficial to have two guys like that to help the rest of the guys out,” Mitchell said. “Although we’ve been inside, we’re going to try and use this as a blessing in disguise and try to be optimistic and just putt away.”

The rest of the roster is made up of Robert Barbato, Andrew Lafluere, Gavin Reed, Jimmy Bolanowski, Keegan Matthews, Brian Frisch, Charlie Halleck, Ethan Johnson, Joe Blewett, Josh Meredith and Beau Yuchasz.

“We want to be playing our best golf in June. My analogy is I would never allow a kid to go out and play if they hadn’t practice first, but that’s what we’re going to doing here in golf. We’re not going to practice and we have to go out and play our best golf right away,” Mitchell said. “We have to understand that it’s going to take us a little more time and I understand that and I hope our kids do to and don’t get frustrated. We just want to be playing our best golf by June. Our BNC finals are in June, along with regionals and I think we have a few golfers capable of advancing. If we can improve a few more scores, I think as a team we can compete and hopefully we’ll be able to peak at the right time.”