IR golf aims to bounce back from ‘mulligan’ season
Just two years removed from a Henlopen South championship, the 2013 Indian River High School Golf team finished the season a disappointing 2-11. However, with an infusion of new talent and a fresh start in 2014, head coach Paris Mitchell Sr. fully expects his squad to be back on par with the rest of the Henlopen South, to battle for yet another title this year.
“I think we’re going to be able to step up and be competitive in the South again,” said Mitchell of the outlook for the season. “We have a very good chance of winning [the South], which would put us in the state tournament also.”
Despite graduating three senior starters from last year, including second-team All-Conference selection Dominic Costantino, the Indians will see three returning players with match experience in senior Mike Thompson, junior Clayton Hardy and sophomore Tori Buchanan — who, according to Mitchell, is only the second female to start for the Indians’ golf program.
“They were in and out of the lineup,” Mitchell said of the returning players. “Two of them were full-time starters. They’re going to have to step up this year.”
Thompson will be the lone senior on the team, but Mitchell will be expecting a lot from sophomore newcomer Joey Cooper, who was homeschooled prior to enrolling at Indian River this year.
“He’s doing a real good job,” Mitchell said of the team’s newest addition. “His dad’s a real good golfer, and I think he’s coached him.”
While Thompson, Hardy, Buchanan and Cooper will most likely make up four of the six starting spots for next week’s match against Milford, Mitchell said the final two spots are still up for grabs and subject to change throughout the season.
After taking on Milford on Tuesday, March 25, on their home course at Cripple Creek Country Club in Dagsboro, the Indians will hit the road for three straight matches against conference opponents, facing Seaford, Delmar and Henlopen North powerhouse Caesar Rodney. According to Mitchell, the first four games of the season will be crucial in determining his team’s South title hopes.
“We’re going to know where our season stands by the fourth match,” he predicted. “Coach Wingate and I are going to let them know how important [those matches are]. If we can get through the first four games at 3-1, we have a very good chance.”
Even though the team had only been able to practice officially three times this spring, as of March 18, Mitchell said he doesn’t expect inclement weather to affect how prepared his squad is for the season-opener.
“With the group that we’ve got, I don’t think too much bothers them,” he noted.
Golf season will be in full swing this Tuesday, March 25, at Cripple Creek Country Club at 3:30 p.m., against Milford. For updates on that matchup, and all Indian River spring sports, follow @CPointSports on Twitter.