The Roseburg High golf teams missed out on any opportunity to practice before their seasons began due to the recent snowstorm. The storm created a lot of downed trees all over local courses.
But both teams participated in a kickoff tournament at Rogue Valley Country Club last Monday to open their seasons. Both teams began practice on Thursday once Roseburg Country Club was cleared up from the storm.
The Roseburg girls golf team won the Southwest Conference title last season, automatically qualifiying for the Class 6A state tournament.
The RHS girls have four returners from last season, including senior Ally Sandfort, who finished third in the SWC tournament last year. She finished tied for 32nd at state.
“The goal is to send our team to state again this year. I’d still like to go myself, to be able to go all four years would be great,” Ally Sandfort said. “I would like to finish in the top three in conference and maybe get a 70 score. I’ve been working on my swing plane and my short game in the offseason to help lower my scores.”
Lauren Sandfort a sophomore, finished fourth in the SWC tournament last season. She tied for 48th at the state tournament.
“I expect to break 80 this year. I’ve been working a lot around the green on my short game,” Lauren Sandfort said. “It’d be super cool to see our teammates improve all year and be able to win the Southwest Conference again. I want to try and have a redemptive season because it (last year) wasn’t up my expectations. Maybe I can even shoot a 70 score.”
Sophomore Makayla Walker returns along with junior Taylor Hunt, who played in three league tournaments and at state last year.
Freshman Eva McMillan rounds out the team. The Indians took eighth place at state last year.
The Indians did lose Avry Hansen to graduation last year after she tied for 44th at state. Hanson now plays at Southwestern Oregon Community College and finished the fall season ranked sixth in the conference.
RHS coach Bruce Walker isn’t sure who should be considered the conference favorite. Grants Pass lost a big portion of its team to graduation. South Medford and North Medford lost key seniors. Sheldon returns the most players along with Roseburg.
“As always it’s the newcomers that you’re not aware of that will shape our conference,” Walker said. “Our first SWC tournament is April 1 and that is when we see each team’s lineups.”
“I know that we have three quality players coming back in Ally, Lauren and Makayla, who have played a lot of golf over the year. Taylor really came on at the end of the season and I look for her to continue to improve.”
The girls will play their next tournament on Monday at Centennial Golf Club.
“With this group of girls I do know one thing, each and every day these girls will put forth their best effort and to me that is what really matters,” Walker said. “The girls want to improve and be playing their best golf at the end of the season.”
The Roseburg boys qualified for the regional golf tournament by finishing fourth in the Southwest Conference a season ago. The boys took second place in the regional tournament at Emerald Valley Golf Club, which earned the Indians a team birth into the Class 6A state tournament.
They hope to repeat that feat this year.
Bryce Thomason, a junior, took seventh place at state individually last year as a sophomore.
“Bryce is back for his junior year and looking to contend for the individual conference title,” RHS boys coach Chad Smith said. “He hopes to not only qualify for state, but improve on his seventh place finish from last year.”
Senior Koby Gilbert returns from last year’s state team. Senior Ryan Remington is the only other returning golfer with varsity experience. Remington played in five varsity tournaments last season.
“We’re hoping that (Remington) will help to solidify our top three this year as we move into league play after spring break,” Smith said.
Other boys who are expected to play in varsity matches are junior Chase Parker, sophomore Brady Watkins and sophomore Joey Garcia. They also have some newcomers to the program, including juniors Polani Magnani, Rayce Bergeron, Blake Ronk and freshman Jake Calkins.
“While we don’t have a lot of varsity golf experience, the boys are excited to get the season underway,” Smith said. “We’ll see what they can do about making a return to the state tournament.”
The boys will next play on March 22 in a four-way match at Centennial Golf Club.