Potter Leader-Enterprise / Port Allegany Reporter Argus
September 9, 2009
Port Allegany may no longer have its own golf course, but that inconvenience hasn’t stopped the high school teams from continuing to compete. On a recent afternoon, the Gator boys could be found at the Pineview Driving Range just east of town, practicing their putting on the miniature-golf layout.
“Haven’t had any putts like this on the golf course,” head coach Bob Raudenbush said with a chuckle as he used the ‘loop-the-loop’ hole to demonstrate ball-striking speed, “but we make the best of it. We’re doing okay.”
Does that built-in handicap make team victories a little sweeter when they happen? “It definitely does,” the longtime Port High coach said. “I think it’s a three- to four-shot advantage when you’re on your home course. Again, no excuses, but it’s definitely an advantage to know what clubs to hit, your yardages, how greens break, those kinds of things. There’s nothing like local knowledge. It’s another challenge for us to overcome, so it does make it a little more satisfying to win a match on someone else’s home course. That’s the challenge we know we face, and we keep working hard to get there. Last year we were 4-8, and we look at that as a pretty good season to pick up four wins on the road.”
The Gators were young in 2008, with graduating senior Terry Gleason the only upperclassman on the roster. That gave the current junior class plenty of playing time as sophomores, experience Raudenbush thinks will work in their favor.
“Our juniors are definitely our core this year,” he said. “Kyle Hildebrandt and Kody Taylor are our two returning letterman, and they’ve consistently shot our two best scores. So it was nice to see that Frank Austin was the co-medalist against Austin; it’s nice to have a third guy come into the picture. With some good scores, things are looking up to start the season.”
Fellow juniors Chad Barnard, Marcus Borowsky, and Todd Bigley also return, and the Gators added seniors Cameron Lane and Kole Hults, sophomore Brady Major, and freshman Zach Austin to the roster.
Hildebrandt put together a strong sophomore season, earning a spot on the Penn-York League All-Star team, but Raudenbush cautioned against inking him – or anyone else – into the No. 1 spot just yet.
“I think Kyle stepped up a little toward the end of last year, and definitely put himself out there as being our No. 1 golfer. But Frank Austin came through (in the season opener against Austin) and Kody Taylor’s been in the 40s a couple of times, so there is some competition there for that top spot. And that’s healthy; competition is a good thing. That should make us better,” he said.
While Raudenbush is pleased with the effort he’s seen thus far, he knows his Gators still have work to do to match up against the teams at the top of the league standings.
“We’re probably five strokes off right now,” he admitted. “We need to improve by five more strokes from where we’re at, and then we’re going to be very competitive in the league. And I think these guys will do that. Good group of kids once again. Very teachable, coachable. When you talk about working in something, or changing something in their swing, they’re willing to give it a try and stick with it. That makes it fun as a coach to have a group of kids like that.
“We talked about building on last year’s 4-8 season. If we can repeat that – or I’d like to see us improve on that – it would be a very good season, being realistic. I think we’d be moving in the right direction, and with this many juniors coming back, I think we can do that.”
2 – Oswayo Valley, 4 p.m.
14 – Otto-Eldred, 4 p.m.
17 – Smethport, 4 p.m.
21 – Coudersport, 4 p.m.
22 – Cameron County, 4 p.m.
25 – Smethport Invitational, 9 a.m.
29 – District 9 Tournament, 9 a.m.