Nearly 80 high schoolers competed at the Heather Hills Golf Club in Romeo on April 21 for the second BWAC competition of the season.
Almont, the host of the match, might’ve won overall, but together, the competing schools set a conference participation record with 78 golfers across the JV and varsity teams.
“From a coaching standpoint, it’s so cool to see all that investment in JV because that’s only going to lead to more competition in our conference,” Almont head coach Mark Bone said. “You can already see that this year. Croswell-Lexington has a pretty solid team, Richmond’s right there too.”
Bone, who is in his 20th year of coaching, said he’s noticed an increased number of golfers in the BWAC over the last two or three years and it’s leading to tougher competition. He said his rosters have often averaged 15-20 athletes, and now many other programs are catching up.
The Raiders have won the last eight BWAC titles, but this year, thanks to the growing sport, they might face their biggest challenge yet.
Richmond won the first league match with the team’s lowest score of the season, 172, Cros-Lex placed second at 176, and Almont was third at 178, foreshadowing the rivalry to come. Even North Branch was in the mix at 182 and is now ranked third in the league standings.
Almont has since won two matches and leads with a league-low of 158 from last night's match at Castle Creek, and Cros-Lex has won once in a tiebreaker over the Raiders. With four league matches to go before the BWAC championship on May 15, the title is still up for grabs.
“That’s the exciting part for me,” Bone said. “I enjoy the competition. I enjoy the anxiety going into matches not knowing if you’re going to win or lose or how close you’re going to be.
“Just having that additional competition in the BWAC is not only making my team stronger, but it’s going to make every team in the conference stronger as we get past our conference play and into that regional and hopefully State Finals."
Most of the improvement stems from JV participation, which Bone said has been a key part of his team’s success over the last two decades. He welcomes any player who’s willing to try.
“My only cut rule is to come and just want to play because you never know when the switch is going to go off for some kids,” he said. “It’s one of those things that might seem hard at first but the more we keep working at it and make it fun, eventually t’s going to click and then he could be the guy that all of a sudden makes varsity as a senior.
“It’s bigger than the program…if you can give a kid an opportunity, he might not show up in the paper or the score sheet, but 20 or 30 years down the road, hopefully he’ll appreciate it and take something away from it.”
And with more than 30 JV participants across the league, teams will only continue to improve, and we'll look forward to seeing who "clicks" next.
For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli
To receive notifications about new stories from The Sports Report, subscribe for free.