High School Golf

2013 High School Boys Golf Preview: Hilton Head High shooting at big target

ccox@islandpacket.comMarch 16, 2013 

Hilton Head Island High School's Andrew Orischak finished sixth in the Class 3-A state tournament last season. He returns to the Seahawks this season as an eighth-grader.

JAY KARR ¥ STAFF PHOTO — Jay Karr -- Staff photo

Nearly three hours had passed, and the Hilton Head Island High School boys golf team was still hard at work on the putting green.

Usually such a practice regimen would draw exasperated groans from the Seahawks, coach Rawn Grant said. But not on this day.

"The other day, we just worked strictly on putts for three hours," Grant said. "Usually in the past, guys don't want to putt for that long. But they really got into it and they're kind of buying into what we need to do."

The short game has plagued the Seahawks in the early portion of the season. But Grant believes the problem is still fixable and likes where his team is headed, should it get beyond its putting issues.

"The putting has been killing us," said Grant, who returned to the boys team this season after a three-year stint with the girls. "That's what we've been focusing on lately, working on our short game. The up-and-downs, the putting. We can shave off 10, 15 strokes, easy. They hit the ball well, but we get there in two, three-putts, and that's been killing us."

Those 10 to 15 strokes are what separates Hilton Head High from a state championship, Grant believes. The Seahawks have four golfers who can shoot in the low 70s on any given day, the coach said, and five others who can finish in the high 70s or low 80s.

That combination could lead to a Class 3-A crown. Hilton Head High finished fourth in the state event last season, led by then-seventh-grader Andrew Orischak, who earned all-state honors after firing a 76 on the final day to finish sixth overall.

Orischak, now an eighth-grader, heads into this new season as the consensus No. 1 for the Seahawks. But his practice habits, not his skills, are what's drawing rave reviews from the Hilton Head High coaching staff.

"He practices well," Grant said. "He practices with a purpose every time we go out. And that's what I'm hoping the rest of them will pick up on, is how he practices.

"He's serious about the game. And so that's kind of wearing off (on the others). I've seen a change from the beginning of the season to now."

All of the Seahawks gained considerable experience a year ago. The team, which didn't lose a single senior off last season's roster, returns seniors Brooks Moody and Christopher O'Donnell as well as juniors Troy Hoisington, Gavin Lindstrom and Evan Reier.

Orischak, Lindstrom and Moody all fired 73s in the opening round of last season's Class 3-A state championship, only to shoot 76, 83 and 83, respectively, over the second day. It's that type of inconsistency that Grant is hoping to erase this time around.

"Those guys are all back," he said. "There's no reason we can't be better."

The Seahawks are coming off a strong showing at the Island West Golf Club on Wednesday, where Hilton Head High finished with a team score of 157 to best area schools Bluffton, Battery Creek and Whale Branch Early College High School.

Hilton Head High won by 21 strokes over the same three schools a week earlier.

"Against the better teams we haven't really fared that well," Grant said. " ... All of those (strong) teams, we can beat with a 300, 305. I think that's what it's going to take at states this year."

That's where the Seahawks ultimately want to be. And Grant thinks he has the horses to get there.

"Absolutely," he said. "We're experienced, and if they get a little consistent, we can be state champs. Without a doubt."

2013 HIGH SCHOOL BOYS GOLF PREVIEW

Beaufort High

Coach: William Dixon, 2nd year

2012 results: Fourth in Region 8-AAAA, 5th in Lower State, 16th in state

Notable personnel losses: Taylor Simonsen (2012 team MVP, all-region, North-South All-Star selection)

Top returning players: Jr. Josh Fickes, Sr. Tommy Earl

Key newcomers: Soph. Keaton Butler, 8th grader Matthew Campbell, Sr. Jake Snider

Strengths: Experience at the top with Fickes and Earl will be key for the Eagles, who also have the depth behind them to make a strong push, as more than 25 students tried out during the preseason.

Weaknesses: While strong at the top, Beaufort High will lean on a handful of golfers without competitive experience.

Burning question: Can the Eagles use consistency to build on the momentum established a year ago? If the youngsters can play well while Fickes and Earl shoot low, Beaufort High could see positive results.

Coach's prognosis: "(We want to) be competitive inside the region, play well at Lower State and earn another shot in the state tournament," Dixon said.

Bluffton

Coach: David Crosby, 6th year (126-123 overall)

Assistant coach: Ron Martin

2012 results: 31-34 overall, finished 14th at state

Returning players: Sr. Wesley Long, Sr. Pierce Brehany, Fr. Alec Weary, Soph. Seth Kombrink, 8th grader Patrick Connolly, 8th grader Zachery Hellstrom

Key newcomers: Jr. Brandi Hammonds, Soph. Henry Lopez, 7th grader Drew Weary, Jordan Sims

Coach's Prognosis: "This is the year for the boys I expect a good season," Crosby said. "Moving to 4-A is tough but I have some good returning players. We also have Brandi Hammonds coming from the girl's team. I would like to finish in the top 10 or maybe better."

Hilton Head Christian Academy

Coach: Doug Langhals, 9th year

Assistant coaches: Jason Suddeth, Jeff Thompson, Freddy Mitchell, Tim Sutherland

2012 results: 3rd at SCISAA State Tournament, 2nd at Magnolia Invitational, 2nd at Panther Invitational, 4th at Lowcountry Classic

Notable personnel losses: Kyle Weaver, Will Miles

Top returning players: Bryson Nimmer, JD Lehman

Key newcomers: Daniel Azallion

Strengths: Most of last season's core group of golfers are back in 2013, bringing a wealth of experience to the Eagles roster.

Weaknesses: Langhals is still looking to see which golfers will step up and replace Weaver and Miles.

Burning question: Who will slide into the Nos. 4 and 5 spots?

Coach's prognosis: "Tons of potential," Langhals said. "Just a matter of seeing how we come together as a team and making sure we peak at the right time."

Hilton Head Island High

Coach: Rawn Grant Sr., 2nd year

Assistant Coaches: Ed Brill, Jason Heintschel

2012 results: Region 7-AAA champions, 3rd in Lower State, 4th in state

Top returning players: 8th grader Andrew Orischak, Jr. Troy Hoisington, Sr. Brooks Moody, Sr. Christopher O'Donnell, Jr. Gavin Lindstrom, Jr. Evan Reier

Key Newcomers: 8th grader Travis Mancill, Fr. Drew Hall, Jr. Marshall McGarity

Strengths: Depth

Weaknesses: Consistency

Coach's prognosis: A Class 3-A state championship is the goal for the Seahawks this season.

Hilton Head Prep

Coach: Kyle Maloney

2012 results: SCISAA Class 3-A state champions

Notable personnel losses from 2012: Tyler Williams (graduation), James Madison commit was All-Region, All-State; Phillip Loeb, All-Region, All-State

Top returning players: Sr. Woody Woodward, Wake Forest signee was 2012 SCISAA Individual Champion, All-State, All-Region; Sr. Russell Freed, Sr. Mitchell Campbell; John Lawson, soph.; Zach Ruhlin, soph.

Key newcomers: Emma Parsons, Fr.; Robbie Morway, 8th; Sam Warren 8th.

Thomas Heyward Academy

Coach: Marty Bowers

Top returning players: Caleb Brister, soph.; Blake Stoner, jr.; Jeremy Tuten sr.; Davis Owens, jr.; Jacob Rountree, sr.; Trace Lowther, 7th

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