Last season, the Elk Lake golf team made history by first fielding a girls team, then by sending that same team to states, and finishing sixth.
On the boys side, however, the team suffered defeat due to lack of players more times than they would have liked.
Head golf coach Ryan Kipar is returning all but one player from last year’s squad, a senior lost to graduation, but adds a couple new faces as well. The Warriors are also high on recruiting in the hallways.
Senior Jason Mowry said, “I have been (recruiting friends). I know some other guys that might join.”
With a team heavy on experience, Kipar and assistant coach Clint Tyler will look to Mowry, as well as Taegan Mills and Chloe Sipe to lead the way.
“Jason, Taegan, and Chloe all have dedicated themselves to our team,” said Kipar, who suited up for the Warriors golf team in high school. “The rest of the team looks up to them.”
The 2018 campaign was unkind to the boys team, but it went quickly. According to Kipar, the matches were swift because the Warriors could not fill out the roster.
“Overall, it really wasn’t ideal,” he said. “We gave away two points before we even started.”
Kipar pointed out that Mowry had a pretty good season, and junior Colby Baker is making positive steps to move forward.
The Lady Warriors surprised everyone, first by even fielding a team.
“It was the first time that Elk Lake had a girls team- and they finished sixth in the state,” explained Kipar, who teaches government and economics in the high school. “It really was an eye opener. Chloe went to regionals and was a performer of the year, and Taegan made first team all star.
Elk Lake had a few of their duffers on the links in the offseason, working on their games. Mowry, Sipe, and Mills all focused on their golf skills outside of the fall.
“It’s helped my nerves and has helped me by getting shots in and hitting from different situations,” said Mowry who participated in the Anthracite Golf Association this summer, and concluded his season in the Tournament of Champions.
Mills, Kipar said, incurred an injury last season but the severity was never disclosed. In the offseason, Mills had brain surgery.
“About the first week or so of practice last season, she was getting some pretty bad headaches,”explained Kipar. “It turns out she wasn’t getting enough spinal fluid on her brain. Even still, after her surgery, she has been out there working on her swing. She has been getting lessons and playing since then. Having her back to full strength, having her feel better, is a good thing for our program.”
The end goal for the Warriors is to get the girls back to states. But Kipar and Tyler also hope to have multiple individual representatives in the state competition as well.
To do so, the coaches have been having lessons in Scranton and offered professional training that focused on different aspects of the game.
“Everything from technique, putting, chipping, strategy, mid-scoring range, and even working in the tee box,” offered the coach.
Kipar was quick to point out, though, that teamwork isn’t only on the greens.
“These kids are so close even off the course,” he said. “They are always around each other, doing non-golf things.”
Mowry agreed, adding, “Because we know each other so well, we know someone is doing something wrong and will be able to fix the problem before it’s too late. We can talk to each other.”
“Some problems we will have, besides numbers, are course management and learning from the other golfers mistakes. But still, we are getting better are putting the ball in the air and have improved our short game. We’ll get there,” said Kipar.
Before the season officially starts, the Warriors have the opportunity to send players to the boys Irving Jackman Memorial Tournament at Scranton Municipal Golf Course on August 16 and the girls on August 20.
Kipar said that a team can send as many players from the team as the coach sees fit, but he bases the selection on many things. He reviews each players speed of play, competitive level with other schools, and want to be there. For the boys, he will send Mowry, for his fourth consecutive appearance, and is looking at a couple other players.
The Lady Warriors will most likely send all of the players, as they have different scoring components.
“I want the kids to all have good memories, have a good time. I think it is important for them to be able to be around different people,” said Kipar. “Ultimately, I just want them to be able to enjoy golf with their friends and families when they get older.”
The Warriors begin play on August 19 on the road against Montrose, but open the PIAA season against Holy Cross on their home course at Tall Pines on Friday, August 23.
Roster: Senior Jason Mowry. Juniors Colby Baker, Zachary Shields, Taegan Mills, and Payton LaRue. Sophomores Nate Warriner, Reese Warriner, Chloe Sipe, Jenna Daye, and Lily Decker. Freshman Josh McIntyre.
Schedule: Aug. 19 at Montrose; Aug. 21 vs. Lakeland; Aug. 23 vs. Holy Cross; Aug. 6 at Montrose; Aug. 26 at Scranton Prep; Aug. 28 at Mountain View; Aug. 29 vs. Old Forge; Sept. 3 vs. Western Wayne; Sept. 5 at Lackawanna Trail; Sept. 9 vs. Mid Valley; Sept. 11 vs. Blue Ridge; Sept. 12 at Forest City; Sept. 19 at Dunmore; Sept. 23 at Carbondale.