By DAVID WOOD, for The Democrat
Coming onto their home course with a positive win record, the Eagles hosted Edgewood and Owen Valley April 12. Despite the benefits of playing on familiar green, the Eagles fell to 5-6 on the season by a mere four strokes.
The Eagles totaled 186 on the day, while both Owen Valley and Edgewood tied at 182. In the tiebreaker, decided by the fifth-best score for both teams, the Patriots clinched first place.
Head Coach Brad Baughman felt that even in defeat, the Eagles showed promise for the future. After 32 years, this will his last year teaching English at the junior high; however, he plans to continue coaching golf into his 19th season
“Every one of our kids, despite the score, had a good run somewhere,” he said. “They strung some good shots together, and that always bodes well for the future because it lets them know they can do it.”
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There were some key individual performances on the team, despite the overall score, he said.
“It was an interesting day, because there were players that had been showing some improvement and played pretty well,” he said. “I think it was nice to get a couple players who hadn’t been breaking 50 consistently do that tonight.”
Ben Rygiel, the 17-year-old lone senior for the Eagles, was one such player, scoring a personal best of 44. In his fourth and final season of high school golf, he shows signs of making his last year the best yet.
“Today I felt like I did pretty well,” he said. “It’s my best score in high school and I’ve kept progressing and getting better.”
Rygiel felt as if he was getting off the tee well, but still had room for improvement on his later swings.
“I could definitely work on my second and third shots, just getting more consistent distance on my seven and eight irons, and placing my shots more centered on the fairway,” he said.
He’ll need to put these considerations into practice as he sets the bar high for his last season. “I’d really like to get to WIC (Western Indiana Conference). Last year I was a few strokes out, so that’s a goal of mine,” Rygiel said. “I’d just like to have a good senior year, nice and fun.”
Coach Baughman echoed Rygiel, commenting on his growth as a player.
“He’s gotten better each match, and it wasn’t like it’s a surprise, because I can see him doing it on the range,” he said. “With those better numbers come more confidence, and with that confidence comes a little more relaxation. … I’m sure he’ll eclipse that 44 score.
“I like seeing that, because he’s a senior and I want him to have some good memories of golf.”
Independent of player-specific goals, Baughman would simply like to see the team grow as golfers and individuals.
“I want the team to improve. Every coach wants to be better at the end than you were in the beginning,” he said. “I also want them to have good character. … I want to go somewhere and hear the team played well and they were really nice and respectful.
“That’s the kind of reputation I would like for us to establish or keep working with, and make sure that we leave a good mark wherever we go.”
Senior: Ben Rygiel
Juniors: Emerey Brock, Chris Clegg, Jiajun “Bob” Cao, Curtis Lookebill, Parker VanNess
Sophomores: Brendon Asher, Peyton Proctor, Rex Watters
Freshman: Jake Huddleston
Manager: Ashley Masteller