Mount golfers go 2-4 in first Section match

By on August 20, 2014
Ephrata’s Nitch Hatch chips onto the green during last week’s match at Conestoga.

Ephrata’s Nitch Hatch chips onto the green during last week’s match at Conestoga.

A year ago, the Ephrata golf team made the transition from Section Two to talent-rich Section One, and many felt the Mounts would have a difficult time adjusting to the change.

However, to their credit, that certainly didn’t happen. Ephrata went on to finish a respectable 19-23 overall to place fourth in the seven-team section.

With a season under their belts, the Mounts will look to take that proverbial “next step” in a typically loaded Section One field in 2014.

The Mounts officially kicked off the season last Thursday at Conestoga Country Club in the Section One opener. And while their 2-4 record on the day was not quite what they were looking for, there are signs there that bigger things could be on the horizon for the Mounts.

Junior Matt Kreider led Ephrata’s top four with a round of 79. Nick Hatch was next at 81, followed by Mitch Storb, who carded an 87. All three of those player are veterans in the lineup, while newcomers Chase Weik and Lauren Moyer tied with a pair of 99s a the Mounts finished with a team score of 346.

“To some extent it played out very predictably,” Coach Ed Gambler said of his team’s play in the opener. “(Kreider, Hatch and Storb) all have a lot of match experience, and all three scored pretty well. They scored in the range of scores where I would expect them to be. Anytime you have new players break into the lineup there is going to be some inconsistency there for a while. Hopefully we’ll see those scores come down and we’ll see the overall match results get a little better.”

Manheim Township ran away with the opener, going a perfect 6-0 with a team score of 299 as all of its top four finished in the 70s or lower. Ryan Dornes, the Streaks’ top player, finished a medalist as he carded a round of 69.

Penn Manor was a distant second at 335, with Hempfield (339), CV (343), Ephrata, Cedar Crest (351) ad Warwick (369) rounding out the field.

While Gambler believes Manheim Township is the class of the section, he feels his team is on par with all of the other squads.

“I’m hoping we can compete with pretty much everyone in the section,” he said. “Township is going to be out there and will be very difficult to catch for anybody. They are probably looking at another State championship. We are certainly competitive with all of the other teams. I’m hoping once we get some experience under our belts we can consistently look at 5-1 or 4-2 in our matches.”

Certainly he has a good core in Kreider, Hatch and Storb, who all were key contributors a year ago. Both Kreider and Hatch were selected this summer to compete for Lancaster in the annual Jr. War of the Roses Tournament vs. York County’s best.

“For us to have two players on that team was a real honor and really speaks to the level of devotion those two have put into the game,” Gambler said. “They both really worked at their games and both really are at an advanced level.”

Kreider, in particular, has made terrific strides in his game since playing at three or four for most the year last season.

“Matt is obsessed with golf,” Gambler said. “It’s everything to him right now and it has been for about a year and a half now. When you are so single-minded you put the time in that is required to get this kind of improvement, and that’s what we are seeing. He really has taken huge steps forward. He not only has made himself into a very good player physically, but also really studied the game and really understands course management and how to work his way around a course. He’s a very seasoned player at this point and very confident, and he really has all his ducks in a row as far as being a real, quality player.”

While Kreider, Hatch and Storb are the returnees, several players are vying to contribute out of the fourth and final spot in the lineup. Gambler said he expects Wike, Moyer, Tommy Mull, Zach Frantz and “a couple freshmen” to battle for that slot in the coming weeks.

“We are very solid through the top three, and then we do have a number of kids who are talented and will be pushing (for that final spot),” Gambler said. “And it all speaks well for the future because (Hatch) is the only senior.”

What also should help the Mounts this year is switching its home venue from Galen Hall, which was about a half hour car ride to neighboring Foxchase.

“That really should help,” Gambler said. “(Foxchase) is always in immaculate condition. They really take care of the place so it’s nice to be there. It also has great practice facilities which is a big bonus. We have the driving range, practice bunkers and a practice green…we will be able to do a lot more work, especially on days when we can’t be on the course itself because there is still a real good practice facility to use.”

Ephrata will be quite busy over the next week with three matches on tap. Hempfield will host a Section One match Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Four Seasons. Then Ephrata will host a shotgun start at Foxchase on Thursday, beginning at 7 a.m. The teams will then close out this busy stretch with a match at Overlook next Tuesday, beginning at noon.

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