KNOXVILLE — Barry Smith is doing double duty this spring as he enters his fourth season coaching the girls and it will be his first year coaching the boys.
The girls team currently features five girls with two returning varsity experience.
The lone senior is Amy Sullivan, who placed sixth in the conference tournament and qualified for state in 2019. Junior Isabella Day-Suhr was also a letter-winner on that 2019 team.
The three newcomers include sophomores Nikolle Kussatz, Hayden Hudson and freshman Faith Roozeboom. Despite being newcomers, Kussatz and Roozeboom bring a lot of experience as they have been practicing with the team since middle school since Knoxville doesn’t have middle school golf. They also got a lot of playing time last year despite no season since golf was one of the few activities people could do during the pandemic.
Despite lacking depth and only featuring two girls with experience, Smith likes the work ethic of his small group.
“The girls have been very excited to get the golf season going,” Smith said. “They have been attending open gyms regularly and anticipate having a great season. They have always been willing to listen and work on the new things we have brought their way. Overall, I think the girls can have a very solid season. I believe we can be competitive within our conference tournament and be right there in some of the regular season matches against the other teams.”
The boys have 12 out for the team this year thanks to a sharing agreement with Twin Cedars that sees a few come over from Bussey. It will be a very inexperienced bunch with one senior, Jace Nichols (from TC), and only one golfer with varsity experience in junior John Buttell, who only played in one meet as a freshman.
Although they lack high school varsity experience, sophomores Kail Arkema, Beau Leisure and freshman Evan Smith have played in Iowa Junior PGA events over the past few years and bring tournament experience.
Like the girls, the boys were still able to hit the course a lot last year and are a tight-nit group that will try to surprise a lot of people this season.
“I've seen most of them play golf and know what they are capable of shooting,” Smith said. “And if the scores come in around where I think they should be, we will be very competitive. I believe the boys will set some pretty lofty expectations and we have to keep working to meet those expectations. We'll have a couple of tournaments in April that will give us a good indication how competitive we can be.”