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High expectations for Solon boys’ golf after back-to-back state runner-up finishes
With top-10 talent back, Spartans eye state title
Unparalleled success and unfinished business.
Solon’s boys’ golf team produced the best back-to-back seasons in program history. The consecutive state runner-up performances come with more confidence than pressure, but it leaves one thing left to achieve.
“It’s more of a booster,” Solon sophomore Isaiah Zoske said. “We know we can get to that level and be that good. We just have to take it a step further and win a state title. I think we can do that.”
The Spartans have matched their best finishes each of the last two seasons and return four starters from a year ago. With top-10 talent, veteran players and record numbers under Solon Coach Adam Stahle, the excitement and expectations are high this season.
“It’s pretty good for our team,” Solon senior Mac McCarty said. “All of us who have experience can show the younger guys how it works. Obviously, we’ve handled pressure more than the younger ones have, so that’s a benefit we have. We have to have four scores, so four guys with experience are pretty good.”
The Spartans parlayed potential into a Class 3A second-place finish in 2021, which opened with uncertainty after the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19. Last year’s conclusion didn’t have the same feel due to greater aspirations.
“I think they felt they had more to do,” Stahle said. “They have goals they want to achieve.
“They’re hungry. At the same time, they understand they have to go earn it again this year.”
Solon was one of the best scoring teams in 2022. The Spartans ranked second in combined adjusted average at 159.15, shooting 312.71 per round as a team. They were second in nine-hole, nine-hole adjusted and 18-hole adjusted averages and 18-hole low score.
“Everyone has to keep doing what they know how to do,” McCarty said. “Once you start doing new things, you can cause problems compared to doing what you already know.
“If we perform where we should be at, I’d say we’d be doing pretty good.”
Leading scorer Frank Haege graduated but Jack McCarty returns with the next best average at 78 per round, followed by Zoske (78.43) and Mac McCarty (80.29). Brennan Heesch averaged a little more than 86 last season.
“The guys we have now are pretty good and getting a little bit better as the season goes on is going to be important for us,” Zoske said. “If we can get that third or fourth extra guy then we have someone back the others up, which is key.”
Zoske was 10th at last year’s state meet, while Jack McCarty was sixth in 2021. Zoske has made strides from his freshman campaign and has his sights set on an individual crown.
“One of my goals is to win state this year,” Zoske said. “I feel like I’ve definitely improved from last year, especially from the distance aspect, being a better iron player and driving the ball.
“I think I can make an impact at state this year.”
Solon has experienced a boom in participation. Stahle said 50 golfers have signed up for this season. The increase can be contributed to many factors. Stahle said it could be due to the recent success, classes filled with golfers and the fact that golf provided one of the few opportunities that allowed kids to socialize and be active, causing them to stick with it.
“I don’t know if I have it pinpointed,” Stahle said. “I think there is a combination of those three things.”
More numbers lead to more competition to make the starting lineup. The tight-knit Spartans push one another to greater heights.
“I’d say that’s quite a bit of competition for the spots available,” McCarty said. “I feel like I’ve had a lot of competition, which makes me try harder and shoot better compared to no competition that makes you feel more relaxed.”
Stahle praised the team for their dedication. They have made time for golf in the offseason, balancing time as multi-sport athletes. The Spartans have spent additional time on the course and in the weight room, holding each other accountable. They are reaping the rewards of their effort.
“I would say so,” Stahle said. “The hard work they have put in has been a contributing factor to the success they’ve had on the golf course.”