One stroke at a time

New head golf coach Craig Mai takes the helm

VVN/Wendy Phillippe
Senior Ryan Roland tries to sink a put during practice at the Verde Santa Fe Golf Course. Roland was the only golfer on last year’s team to take a trip to State.

VVN/Wendy Phillippe Senior Ryan Roland tries to sink a put during practice at the Verde Santa Fe Golf Course. Roland was the only golfer on last year’s team to take a trip to State.

After 20 years of coaching golf, John Uidenich hung up his golf bag and turned the coaching duties over to Craig Mai. Mai has been helping the Mingus Union High School golf team as an assistant for eight years and was more than able to take over.

"The kids are familiar with me and they adjusted just fine," said coach Mai.

The team is progressing well for this time of year.

"Skill-wise they are fine where they are at right now," said coach Mai. "There are two things that I wanted them to focus on for this year, that's Attitude and Etiquite and also to improve every week. If we focus on that and work hard, we'll be fine."

Last year's team did well but had some bad luck in Flagstaff during the regional golf tournament and finished 5th out of six teams, missing a chance at State. One of only two seniors this year, Ryan Roland, was the only individual golfer to make the trip to State last year.

Along with Roland is senior Dillon Fielitz. Both will head up the group of five golfers that will represent the Marauders in most of the matches this year.

With Roland and Fielitz, the team also has six juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen.

"There are eight players ready or on the cusp of being ready to contribute right now to the team," said Mai. "If they work hard, we will be very competitive for region. I am confident that the kids will work hard and be very competitive."

Currently the top four golfers on the team are Roland, Fielitz, Richard Paynter and Wally Wilburn. There are several golfers vying for that No. 5 spot. Leading the pack is Mike Rebstein, Jasmine Roland, Dalton Malone and J.C. Lawler. The top four plus Rebstein will most likely be the ones representing Mingus on Tuesday at the Oak Creek Golf Course against Flagstaff, Coconino and Page.

After that match, the Marauders have a busy schedule. The golfers take off to the Bradshaw Mt. Invite on Sept. 5-6. Then head north to Flagstaff for its Invite on Sept. 8-9. Then Mingus heads to Oak Creek again for the Sedona Invite on Sept. 11.

"I will probably mix and match golfers during that busy schedule and see how everything works out," said coach Mai. "It will give them all an opportunity to stay competitive."

As opposed to viewing other teams as their opponents, coach Mai has told his team that the golf course is their opponent.

"We aren't playing them, we're playing the course. If we do well then the finishes will take care of itself."

The final team goal is to be this year's region champions. Coach Mai is optimistic with a top solid four and many others knocking on the door. The Marauders will have a chance to hone in their skills on various courses throughout the next two months before they hit the course in Flagstaff for the Region tournament, when it all counts.

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