Bulldog, Bearcat golfers preparing for districts
     2014-05-15      By Kaitlyn Krzyzanowski    kaitlynk@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Terry Gaston/Gering Citizen - Gering’s Austin Kaufman makes his chip shot out of the rough at the 18th green during the Gering Invitational. Kaufman shot 79 and placed 5th. 
With districts right around the corner for boys’ golf, the Bulldogs are taking every experience from this season and hoping for a shot at going to state in Grand Island.

Taking into account everything that has happened this season, especially learning how to handle the tough weather conditions in the spring, head coach Keaton Green is confident that his team is ready to take on the district tournament.

“There has been a lot of improvement over the season with the boys. Even though the weather doesn’t cooperate all the time and we aren’t always able to go out and practice, they have put as much time into their games as they can,” Green said.

Now that the end of the season is coming up quick, Green believes his team can be a top contender for the final standings and their confidence is up.

“With districts coming up, the guys are really starting to believe that they can accomplish going to state as a team,” Green said.

Although there was a mix with the experience levels this year in terms of players, Green is pleased with how this year has gone. Austin Kaufman, who plays the number one spot, is the lone senior on the team and definitely shows some leadership when it comes to practicing.

“Austin has really come a long way since he first started golf and from how hard he worked this summer on his game, the improvement is showing. I believe he definitely has a shot at going low enough to place at districts and go to state. His work ethic really rubs off on the younger guys so he’s been a great leader for the team,” Green said.

With Kaufman leading the way, the Bulldogs have had a pretty good season. One of their highlights was at the North Platte Invitational where Gering took second as a team with a total of 343, just behind McCook who fired a 329. Grand Island came in at third with a 349. Two Bulldog golfers, Baily Hort and Kaufman, shined at this tournament with Hort taking 4th with an 82 and Kaufman taking 6th with an 84.

“The tournament that stood out the most for us this year was North Platte. We took 2nd at that meet which was a good start for us. Throughout the season we have had our ups and downs but I think it’s coming together,” Green said.

At the recent Gering invite where the weather showed plenty improvement, the boys fell short with Cheyenne East taking 1st with 326, Cheyenne Central in 2nd with 324, and Sidney in 3rd with 338. Kaufman, however, rose to the challenge and managed to snag 5th place with a 79.

“The Gering invite wasn’t the best tournament for us and we weren’t where we wanted to be team wise. Of course we had that home course advantage but I just feel like we didn’t play very good golf that day so it’s a little disappointing. But the team is definitely taking it as a learning experience,” Green said.

The Bearcats are also preparing for their journey to districts and head coach Mike Klein is confident in their approach.

“Our goal going into districts is basically to qualify for state. The team just needs to play the way they know they can play,” Klein said.

After losing a couple players last year the team still has a mixture of under and upperclassmen with only one senior. Klein mentioned that his top two players, Koy Potthoff and Curtis Welsh, have been helping lead the team.

“Every member of the team has their moments, and all five kids have played well this season,” Klein said.

As the game of golf goes, the team has had their ups and downs this season but they are remaining focused on finishing it out.

“There weren’t any tournaments that stood out in particular because I think it’s a gradual process. We’ve had both really good tournaments and not so good ones but you learn from each one of them,” Klein said.

Both the Bulldogs and Bearcats will be in action on May 19 at the district tournament in Cozad.

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