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SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW: Boys take aim at No. 1
The good times are just getting started for the boys who golf with the Falcon logo on their shirts.
After swinging into shape over the last two weeks, the team is ready to take its statewide reputation a notch higher. Having lost just two seniors to graduation last year and back with a solid crew of 11 veterans and one freshman rookie, the Falcons are the team to beat in the North Cascades Conference this year.
The team's longtime coach, Mick Heggenes, is not shy about predicting his boys' future in the 2002 conference battle.
"We believe we can win it," he said.
Last year, they almost did. After getting a season full of brilliant course work from seniors Alec Osenbach and Andy Heintz, as well as a cast of younger characters, the Falcons finished one place behind Lynden Christian's golf team. The Lyncs went on to win the state 2A championship.
With four of its front six back for another year of play, the team has experience and seasoning on its side. Leading the team will likely be sophomore Jeff Strong, who placed 11th on the state meet course at Semiahmoo. Strong's classmate, Reed Dettrich, is expected to keep pace with a spot in the team's third or fourth flight slot.
Lending stability and top scores will be veteran seniors Bryce Hansen and Chuck Applebee.
Behind that pair, a raft of younger players -- senior Eric Rainey, juniors Kevin Carter, Brian Wilson and Matt Madrigali, and freshman Drew Aernie will battle it out for the fifth and sixth varsity spots.
Hegeness said his team will still have more than its share of underclassmen when it hits the links for real starting March 18 at Useless Bay Golf Course.
"We're still real young," he said.
The biggest challenge for the team to overcome this year, Heggenes said, will be getting used to a new play format. Last year, NCC teams competed in seven-team meets that allowed golfers to get used to the competition. This year, matches including just three or four teams will be the norm. Heggenes said this could reduce the level of competition.
"It's an unfortunate change."
The Falcons will play six home meets this year, all at the Useless Bay course.