Learning as they go

The Columbus East boys golfers ended a couple of major droughts last season, winning their first-ever Hoosier Hills Conference title and their first sectional crown since 2003.

Repeating those championships might be a little difficult for the Olympians, considering they lost three of their top four players. Top golfer Adam Krebs has moved on, along with Nos. 3 and 4 golfers Chris Jurrema and Zach Sutton.

Those departures have left this year’s squad with very little experience.

“We have a number of young players who have never played the game,” East coach Tom LaBarbera said. “We’re looking to learn as the season goes on, and hopefully by the end of the season, we’ll be competitive.”

Leading the Olympians this season will be senior Austin Proffitt. The St. Francis recruit averaged 37.9 per nine holes last season and was the team’s No. 2 golfer.

Junior Derek Alexander played No. 5 for East last year. Junior Thomas Ruch saw some varsity action as the No. 6 golfer.

“Obviously, we’re looking for those guys to provide leadership,” LaBarbera said. “They’re going to have to carry the load because we’re going to be young in the other two positions.”

LaBarbera has seven other players battling for the No. 4 and 5 spots. Five of those are freshmen, and the other two are sophomores who did not play high school golf last season.

Those golfers are working to overcome their inexperience.

“I want them to buy in every night to the things we’re working on,” LaBarbera said. “We’re a young team, so we’ve kind of been going back to the basics and spending a lot of time on our short game around the greens. They’re young, and I want them to work on the things they can control.”

The Olympians, who finished 10th in the Providence Regional last spring, open the season Saturday at the Seymour Invitational.

LaBarbera thinks this can be a fun season with a lot of opportunities for his golfers to learn.

“Last year’s team was very competitive and very mature, and this year’s team is not that,” LaBarbera said. “That doesn’t mean we won’t be successful. There’s a lot of potential on this team. They’re just young and inexperienced.”

At a glance

Columbus East

2016 boys golf schedule

Saturday;at Seymour Invitational;9 a.m.

April 9;at Floyd Central Invitational;2 p.m.

April 11;Shelbyville;4:45 p.m.

April 16;at Jennings County Invitational;9 a.m.

April 19;at Jennings County;4:30 p.m.

April 30;at Bedford North Lawrence Invitational;8:30 a.m.

May 2;at Seymour;5 p.m.

May 5;Columbus North;4 p.m.

May 7;at Bloomington North Invitational;8 a.m.

May 9;Madison;4:30 p.m.

May 17;New Albany;4:30 p.m.

May 18;at Jeffersonville;4:45 p.m.

May 19;Batesville;5 p.m.

May 21;HHC at Floyd Central;TBA

May 26;at Columbus North;4 p.m.

May 27;at Greensburg;4 p.m.

May 28;at Providence Invitational;1 p.m.

May 31;Bloomington North;1 p.m.

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.