There’s always going to be adjustments whenever a high school sports program moves up a classification.
But it’s not the new league and different competition that’s the biggest change for the Capital boys golf team as the Cougars go from the 2A Evergreen Conference to the 3A Narrows League.
No, it’s the near 11/2 year hiatus Capital has patiently endured with the league switch due to the fact that 2A golf competes in the fall, while 3A has its season in the spring.
“Obviously, the kids play outside of school,” Capital coach Steve Hamilton said, “but in terms of the Capital High School golf team, it basically didn’t exist in 2014.”
Finally back on the links, the Cougars are looking to secure a fifth consecutive league crown and appear to have the athletes and depth to do so.
After winning back-to-back EvCo championships in 2012-13, Capital, which placed eighth overall as a team at the 2A state tournament in 2013, returns to the league it dominated three seasons ago before moving down to the 2A ranks — and could be returning bigger and better than when it left.
Leading the charge will be sophomore Gabe Barnes, who placed 10th at state in the 2A ranks during his freshman campaign.
Hamilton said the time away between high school seasons has done nothing but sharpen Barnes’ game. Already a gifted golfer during his first year with the program, Barnes is on track to be one of Capital’s best.
“He has all the talent in the world,” Hamilton said of Barnes. “He can pretty much do whatever he wants out there. He has a legitimate chance at competing for a state championship this year.”
Throw in returning seniors Bradyn Cox, Micah Nakao and a vastly improved Eli Simpson, and the Cougars are not only once again the team to beat in league but should make some noise at the state tournament.
“It really is a numbers game. Last year we got three through (to state) and probably should have had another, but the EvCo plays in perhaps the best district in the state. It’s tough to get kids to state with all the talent down there,” Hamilton said. “There’s going to be opportunities this year for us. If we were to get four or five to state that would be awesome.”
With golf switching seasons, Hamilton did lose some players from last season’s roster to other spring sports such as baseball and soccer, but expect the Cougars to add to their rich tradition despite the losses.
“The kids don’t talk about it too much, but you can tell they walk with it,” Hamilton said about the squad’s mindset toward vying for a fifth consecutive league title. “It’s not a verbal thing with them. They have confidence in what they can do, but they still have to go out there and prove themselves every day.”