Spartans golfers to swing for conference title repeat

By Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

As his golf cart made its way down the left side of the first hole at Mariana Butte Golf Course in Loveland, newly-minted Berthoud High School (BHS) boys golf coach, Mike Burkett, expressed great optimism about his team’s chances in the 2016 season, and it was only the second day of official practice.

As he and his team located their tee shots in the first practice-round of the year, Burkett explained, “There’s a lot to work with here. Our top four or five guys are pretty good … I think we can compete for conference again; the goal is to get four guys in the state competition at the end of the year.”

Burkett, an Indiana transplant who also coaches the BHS boys basketball team, plays golf “all the time” and has coached it before, making him a natural fit to take over for long-tenured Mike King, who retired following the 2015 season.

It appears Burkett’s early enthusiasm was well-founded as his Spartans took third place in their second meet of the season. Playing at Saddleback Golf Course in Firestone on Aug. 16, Berthoud finished with a team score of 235, just 10 strokes behind first-place Sterling and eight shy of second-place Windsor. It was a marked improvement over Berthoud’s first tournament of the season, played on Aug. 11 at Pelican Lakes in Windsor, where the Spartans top three combined for a 274 and a disappointing sixth-place finish.

The presence of Jack Hummel, who did not compete at Pelican Lakes, made a big difference for Berthoud at Saddleback. The junior led the Spartans with a four-over-par 76 to finish in a tie for fifth overall. Prior to the season, Hummel said, “I’d like to keep it in the 70s this year,” and added he is focusing on his short game as, “that’s the biggest part.”

In addition to having Hummel, the Spartans 39-stroke improvement from their first tournament to their second was aided by 2015 state-qualifier Josh Schumacher, whose five-over 77 at Saddleback was good enough for eighth place and marked a four-stroke improvement over his showing at Pelican Lakes. For Schumacher, competitive golf is nothing new, as the senior won a juniors tournament at Mariana Butte and another at Ute Creek in Longmont via a scorecard playoff over the summer.

Schumacher explained his goal for the season is not only to make a return trip to state but, “to make the top 25 percent or something like that [at state], because I was in the middle of the pack last year and just had some frustrating holes, so I’d like to do better than that.”

The biggest improvement for the Spartans, however, came from Cameron Poll. The sophomore’s 10-over 82 at Saddleback was an incredible 15-shot improvement over his score from the previous week. Brogan Sontag also improved dramatically, carding an 86 at Saddleback after also shooting a 97 at Pelican Lakes.

The results from Saddleback were certainly pleasing for Burkett, but the coach was adamant the team still has lots of room for improvement.

“We played a lot better today, got some really good rounds from Cameron Poll and Brogan Sontag. With that being said, we still left a few out there,” Burkett said. “We closed the gap between us and the top two teams; I think we can win a few of these league matches before the season ends.”

Prior to the season Burkett explained one of the things he will stress this season is avoiding letting one bad shot ruin an entire hole, or even an entire round.

“They have to learn they’re not going to hit every shot perfect so they need to be able to take what they can,” Burkett said. “Take the seven or eight out of play and just turn it into a bogey … minimize damage when you put yourself in a bad spot.”

The Spartans compete in their next tournament on Aug. 18 at Eaton Country Club and then travel to Erie to play Colorado National Golf Club on Aug. 22.