Pickerel has, you become the hunted.
Pickerel returns a resume boasting a picture-perfect 9-0 record in dual matches in 2007, an unblemished 7-0 mark in SLL play, 11 SLL championships, and he is counting in 34 years. If you include numerous former players who have gone on to achieve golf stardom at the collegiate level, you suddenly find yourself becoming something a little less comfortable than the hunter.
In the SLL golf kingdom, there exists a number of contenders, but don’t think for a moment that the maroon and gray have contented after tasting so much success in the past several seasons. The 2007 SLL champs return seven poised, and proven varsity letter winners in seniors Rachel Brown, Rob Orians, Kyle Evans, and Jared Hillman, and juniors Kyle Simmons, Nolan Eli, and Dustin TenEyck.
This year’s Comets are taking aim at title number 12 for Pickerel, via perhaps the greatest weapon in their arsenal — experience, experience, experience.
“Well, obviously, you know, the SLL Championship is going to be high up on our list every year,” agrees Coach Pickerel.
Pickerel firmly believes in theory that it was indeed his team’s huge success in the league championship match last fall, where the Comets ran away with the the SLL crown from backyard rival Woodmore, that helped build a stronger foundation of confidence for the Comets going into the Ottawa County Championship and the ’07 Sectionals. In both events, Genoa had such good showings that they were able to outright win the former and use the latter as a springboard to advance to Districts.
“With all of our experience coming back, I know that’s one of the goals these golfers as a team have set, to do well at the SLL championship again,” Pickerel continues graciously, “but it won’t be easy. Woodmore has got a really good group of players coming back, as well, and like I said previously, it was supposed to be closer last year, and we kind of outdistanced them. But I think it’ll be a lot closer this year.
“Plus, individually, Lake has one really gifted young man in Matt Smith coming back, who has the opportunity to have a really good season,” scouts Pickerel of the rest of the SLL frontrunners, “and I think Gibsonburg will be much improved, and at Eastwood, (Coach) Mike (Gardner) always has those kids playing really well. So, they’ll have three boys back, too, who will have a lot of potential to do really well.”
Genoa is welcoming back highly-seasoned senior leaders in First-Team All-SLL performers Jared Hillman and Kyle Evans, and teammate Rob Orians. Hillman put a cherry on top of the Comets’ already-sweet performance at the SLL by playing a nearly flawless round of golf and coming within two strokes of the all-time school record of 71 by firing a 73.
Backing them up will be a trio of Kyle Simmons (First-Team All-SLL), Nolan Eli (First-Team All-SLL), and Dustin TenEyck, all of whom are juniors.
If there’s any negative bits to Coach Pickerel’s lineup, they would be that former SLL First-Teamer Aaron Skees is lost to graduation. In addition, junior Jake Winters, who Pickerel said had a really good summer and had become something of a star on the junior varsity squad the past year, don’t look for any other young guns to crack the varsity lineup when it finally comes time to start playing the SLL matches as the Comets are too stacked with talent — a really good problem for Pickerel to have.
The Comets have already placed in the upper division at four of five invitationals leading up to the SLL Shootout No. 1 last Monday at Tanglewood. The Comets were second at the Port Clinton Inviational (16 teams) and the Sycamore Springs Invitational (12 teams). At the Lorain Admiral King (14 teams) and Fremont Ross (10 teams) invites, the Comets were third and they finished seventh of 12 teams at the Hoover Invitational.
Meanwhile, who could forget the final senior piece-of-the-puzzle to round out Coach Pick’s Class of 2008, Rachel Brown, who soared her way to Second-Team All-District honors and a First-Team All-Northwest Ohio Golf League selection in 2007. She also tied a GHS golf record that is particularly close to her coach’s heart when she shot a 36 on nine holes, which was originally set by LeAnna Pickerel a few seasons back.