The starting rotation for Valparaiso's boys golf team mainly originates from a list of six seniors, and none of them seem to be taking off their final season of prep golf.
Kyle Meihofer and Bobby Jacobs both have played under-par rounds in nine- and 18-hole events this season. Alex Pancek has low rounds of 37 and 79; Tyler Doane has a nine-hole low round of 36 and Patrick Andrie has two sub-40 nine-hole rounds. Andrew Gariup, who was part of the postseason lineup last year with Meihofer, Jacobs and Andrie, has dented the starting five this spring, but I figure his name will pop up before the schedule finishes in June.
No cases of senioritis in this group.
"It's an old saying by some coaches that seniors give up (their final year), but that's not what is happening here," Valparaiso coach Wayne Lichtenberger said. "They still have goals in front of them. There's no quit.
"When you have seniors that have been around for four years, you want to give them the first opportunity — unless the juniors are tearing it up."
Junior Michael Gallinatti has played three 18-hole events, and he carded a 79 at the Marquette Invitational. Still, this appears to somewhat of a closed subject.
I credit these seniors. I just wish I had their intensity. I played on the varsity baseball team at South Central as a senior, and I wasn't always giving 100 percent. I never considered myself to be a great prep athlete, but I do regret taking it easy as the season progressed.
Meihofer (Illinois State) and Jacobs (Bradley) already have made their Division I choices, but the prep level work ethic remains.
"We're all good friends," Meihofer said. "Any good friend is going to push another friend to make each other better. When you do that the team benefits, not just the individual.
"A (team) state title is not won by one player. It's five guys combining their efforts to give us a phenomenal shot at a title."
Meihofer and Jacobs have been part of the three previous Vikings' state final squads. This year's road is rougher, with the regional site being moved to Battle Ground near Lafayette. Regional opponents might include Indianapolis Brebeuf, runner-up at the state finals last year, plus 2012 state finalists Westfield and Zionsville. Zionsville's Adam Wood has already committed to Duke.
Lichtenberger understands the competitive level has intensified, so his coaching style has been adjusted.
"There's going to be a plethora of good teams (at regional)," he said. I've been more positive and supportive before. It's a different year, and I'm pushing them harder."
What's just as important is the members of The Times No.1 Vikings are not satisfied with the early successes.
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