ELKO – The Elko boys golf team has not competed in the postseason each of the past-two years, but the Indians and coach Jeff Sarbacker hope to buck the trend in 2019.
Despite not being able to play any practice rounds on their home course due to the abundance of inclement weather, the Indians bring back a combination of potential and experience.
With six roster spots open for each varsity tournament, Sarbacker believes he has four in place.
“Senior Cade Chappell, juniors Derek Peters and Kelby Criss and sophomore Kaden Konakis should be solid for us,” he said. “They all lettered for us last year. I think we will have two spots to fill. Senior Christian Cooper and sophomore Derek Elquist have good shots to earn those positions.”
Peters notched five sub-100 scores during his sophomore year, carding in the 80s twice – posting a career-best 85 on Spring Creek Golf Course, an 87 during Lowry’s tourney on Winnemucca Golf Course and an 89 at Ruby View Golf Course during the Indians’ home tournament.
As a junior, Chappell shots in the 90s six times – posting a season-low 90 during Lowry’s tournament – adding a pair of 91s in Fallon and during Elko’s tourney.
Criss also posted six scores in the 90s as a sophomore, shooting a season-best 91 on two occasions – doing so on Spring Creek Golf Course and once again at Lake Tahoe Golf Course.
In his first year of high school, Konakis stroked the 90s twice – using a familiar course at Ruby View for a career-best 92 – going to the clubhouse with a 94 during South Tahoe’s tournament.
“Our goal is get to back to state as a team. It’s been a few years since that has happened,” Sarbacker said.
While the Indians have not qualified for the state tournament as a team since 2016, Elko has been represented during the state tourney by two individuals on back-to-back appearances – one by Class of 2017 graduate Cauy Mead and last season by graduated Cache Black.
Mead finished seventh in the 2017 Division 3A Nevada State Golf Championships with a two-round tally of 162 strokes – posting an 83 on day one and shaving four strokes for a 79 in round two at Spring Creek Golf Course.-
Black qualified for the 2018 state tournament with a clutch performance in the 3A North finale at Schaffer’s Mill Golf Club, in Truckee, California, blasting his way to a career-best 83.
He hit 14-of-14 fairways and earned the fifth-individual berth to state among members from non-qualifying teams.
During the 2018 Division 3A Nevada State Golf Championships at Mountain Falls Golf Club, in Pahrump, Black took 35th place with a two-day score of 187 strokes – opening with a first-round 98 but improving greatly with a second-round 89.
For the season, Black averaged 88.2 strokes per league event.
As far as practicing up for the 2019 3A North openers, weather has not cooperated.
“Tuesday we went and played a practice round in West Wendover. The guys played pretty well for not being on grass since we started,” Sarbacker said. “We have been practicing at Game Changer Golf, and we have a room behind the football field – putting off some mats and hitting into a net – but it’s been tough without getting to play outside. We are quite thankful to Don Smales at Game Changer for allowing us to his facilities.”
To go along with Sarbacker’s expected-four leaders and two-possible fifth and sixth varsity members, the Indians have a grand total of 13 kids in the program – returning sophomore Rawlin Baggett – everyone else is new, including five freshmen and sophomore.
“Gage Thompson is a sophomore, but he didn’t play last year,” Sarbacker said. “Our freshmen are Kevin Tanner, Brandon Dwyer, Connor Cooper, Carlos Ortega and Andoni Fesenmaier. Our goal for our younger golfers is for them to keep playing and improving. How good they get will come down to how hard they work.”
Division 3A North Opener
Elko’s search for a return to the state tournament will tee off with back-to-back tournaments, the Indians opening the 3A North season Wednesday in Dayton and following with a Thursday tourney at Fallon.