By Will Willems Sports Editor
Zionsville Times Sentinel
---- — While the poor spring weather has wrecked havoc on all winter sports, it may have the biggest factor on the golf teams around the area.
But even with the less than ideal conditions, the Zionsville golf team has been hard at work getting ready for the 2014 campaign.
"The weather has been poor, but it has been poor for everyone so there isn't any excuses," Zionsville head coach Steve Simmons said. "Our guys have been going to Golf Solutions and the Zionsville Golf Practice Center and doing everything they can to be ready. We had a great week of practice right before spring break, working mostly on short game stuff. A majority of our players got out some over spring break and played so we are ready to go."
The Eagles are looking to return to the state championships as a team this season after failing to qualify for the first time in four seasons.
With three players back from last year's top-5, Simmons said the expectation is to make it back to the Legends of Indiana.
"The goal is to make it to state, that is the ultimate goal," Simmons said. "That is the expectations for us every year. Sometimes when you don't make it there it makes the season seem like a disappointment. But we want to make it to state, put together two good rounds there and see what happens. The first thing we have to do is find a consistent line-up and we are still trying to identify the top 6 or 7 players for us. Once we get that, we can hopefully start playing well at the end of the year."
The top returner for the Eagles is senior Adam Wood, the defending individual state champion.
According to the Golfweek Sagarin rankings, he is the 18th best junior player in the country and eighth in the Class of 2014.
Simmons said that along with Wood, there Eagles have plenty of other players that will help out the team.
"Everyone in the state and the golf community knows how good Adam Wood is," Simmons said. "We have another senior in (IPFW commit) Clark Tiller that had an outstanding summer. He won the Indiana Junior PGA and qualified for nationals. That was a big win for him and a big confidence boost. I think he has a chance to be an All-State golfer. Trent Pancake is working hard and getting his game into shape. We need him to have a good season. Then senior Michael Sollman has had a good spring. He is a basketball player so he hasn't gotten as many reps, but he knows how to compete and is not afraid of any situation. Then we have junior Clay Hypes who is a left-hander who had a little varsity experience last year and can be as good as he wants to be. Then Burke Evans, Graham Smitson and Graham Vogtman are underclassmen who can slip into our top-5."
Wood just missed out on the individual scoring record at the state meet a season ago and has played in some of the top junior tournaments around to help get him ready for the season.
Simmons said Wood, who will attend Duke next season, has grown as a player and a leader in his four years at Zionsville.
"When he came in as a freshman, he acted like a freshman, he didn't say much and kept his head down and played," Simmons said. "Now as a senior, he has taken on more of a vocal role. But the biggest thing for him is he leads by example. He is a hardworker in the classroom and on the golf course. He is working now on his posture and his swing. When he started out here, he primarily hit draws. Now he is hitting both ways, his putting is better and he has the same smart focus on the course."
For more of this story, read the April 9 edition of the Times Sentinel.