SPRING CREEK – Following some of the most successful seasons in school history, the Spring Creek golf team is starting anew.
First-year head coach Dan Mendez has taken over for Jeff Van Orman, and his task to duplicate recent Spartans’ performances will be a tall one.
Coming off a 2017 Division 3A state championship and a runner-up finish last season, the cupboard was emptied after Spring Creek snagged its third-consecutive Division 3A North regional championship.
Gone is 2017 state champion Daniel Mahlke, who is playing for the Jimmies at the University of Jamestown, Spring Creek also sending off Mason Adams – each member earning 1st-Team All-State selections in each of the past-two seasons.
Mahlke was a three-time League MVP of the Division 3A North – winning the award as a freshman, a junior and a senior – a four-time 1st-Team All-League selection, a two-time 1st-Team All-State golfer, a 2nd-Team All-State player and a state champion – both individually and with the Spartans in 2017.
Last season, the Spartans won all eight league tournaments and came up one-stroke shy of repeating as state champs – Spring Creek posting a two-day team score of 644, Boulder City claiming the crown with a 643.
In his bid for back-to-back individual titles, Mahlke tied for third place – shooting a two-round 152 (73, 79) – matching the tourney totals of Fallon’s Kelvin Cann (77, 75) and Boulder City’s Blake Schaper (75, 77).
Adams ended his career with three straight 1st-Team All-League selections, finishing his time on the course in black and purple with consecutive 1st-Team All-State performances – beginning with a fourth-place effort in 2017 on the Spartans’ home course with matching rounds of 78 on Spring Creek Golf Course – ranking sixth in 2018 with a two-round total of 160 (79, 81) at Mountain Falls Golf Club, in Pahrump.
Spring Creek also graduated Blair Ingram after his 2nd-Team All-State performance, coming on a two-round tally of 169 during the 2018 3A state tournament with scores of 83 and 86.
The Spartans will also be without senior Trey Sharp, a 2018 1st-Team All-League and 2nd-Team All-State golfer, not playing his senior season – Sharp already committed to University of Jamestown.
After experiencing a few struggles in the first round 0f the 2018 state tournament, Sharp found himself in a three-way tie for ninth with a still-respectable score of 84.
On day two, he brought his A-game out of his golf bag.
He tied Mahlke for sixth in the second round with a score of 79, finishing with a two-day total of 163, closing the tournament in a tie for seventh place.
He was one spot and three-strokes back of Adams for a 1st-Team All-State honor, finishing his junior year with a 2nd-Team All-State selection.
Senior Dyllan Fuchs – a member of the Spartans’ 2018 state runner-up team – has also chosen to not play golf this season after placing 42nd at state last year.
“To say we are young would be a severe understatement,” Mendez said. “We don’t have that one shining star at the moment.”
Mendez took 12 players to Game Changer Golf, in Elko, saying he decided whish golfers to take based on preseason workouts that included “driving, accuracy, distance and hitting targets.”
“We have a total of 20 kids, but I call the ones we took to Game Changer the 12. They may be pretty fluent as far as which six are varsity and which play on the JV. I think it will be a week-to-week basis,” he said. “We want to keep the young ones interested in the game, help them improve and keep them in the program.”
Four players mentioned by Mendez are expected to lead the Spartans, starting with sophomore Kevin Thompson, who played in varsity tournaments last season as a freshman.
Thompson posted four-sub 100 scores – including two rounds of sub-90 golf – tying for his career best in his first varsity start, shooting an 88 in Fallon and notching another 88 at Lake Tahoe Golf Course.
Mendez also thinks he will receive contributions from senior Caden Constable, junior Dekklan Albisu and sophomore Jeremiah Ricketts.
“I’m not trying to be negative, but realistically – we probably won’t compete for a team spot to state,” Mendez said. “Hopefully, we can get one or two in as individuals.”
The Spartans will open the 2019 3A North season at Wednesday in Dayton, teeing off Thursday in Fallon.