There are teams with returners who may or may not step into the shoes of their more-or-less accomplished predecessors. And then there are teams with returners who have pedigree: returners who have already established cred. This spring, Coach Tim Sinclair ’91 welcomes back a group of golfers who fall – most definitely – into the latter category.
The pedigree? Start with fifth former Eric Ash, last season’s top scorer with an average of 39.38 strokes per nine holes. Close behind is Chris Henn, second to Ash on last year’s team with an average of 40.85-per-round. Oh, by the way, Henn is also a fifth former. Veteran AJ Sanchez is the “old man” of the triumvirate of golfers on whom this spring’s high expectations ride. A sixth former, Sanchez averaged 41.14 last year.
That group led a team that finished 31-17 (.648) in 2017 … won the Silo Ridge Challenge Cup with an aggregate 18-hole score of 69 … and finished 5th out of 14 teams at the Western New England Invitational. That’s pedigree. And that’s why so much is expected of this team.
But there’s more. Salisbury boasts another three players who competed a year ago at the varsity level, starting with Nick Lee, who averaged 43.80 after joining the varsity three weeks into the schedule. The fourth former – yep: fourth! – had a low round of 39 last year as a freshman. In addition, there are sixth former Will Buckley, who averaged 46.37 in eight starts last spring, and fifth former James Tait, who had only one varsity start, in the next-to-last event of the 2017 season, and shot an eye-opening 42.
With that kind of firepower, is it any wonder that Coach Sinclair and the Knights’ fanbase are expecting Big Things in the weeks ahead? While Sinclair is wary of the reigning kings of New England golf – defending Western New England Champion as well as Newport Invitational Champion Taft, for one, and All-New England Champion Phillips Exeter, for another – he is not underselling Salisbury’s talent. “I think that we are in a pretty good place for some really good success,” asserts Sinclair. “Maturity and focus will be that much better with last year under our belt,” he observes, “and the thirst to defend our title at the Silo Ridge Challenge Cup has been a goal of many of the guys. Last year,” the veteran coach notes, “we left some shots on the course and let a few opportunities get away from us. This year, we plan on capitalizing in each match. With dedication, hard work and focus, we feel we can be a legitimate contender this year in the New England golf ranks.”
Varsity Golf will field a team you will want to keep on your radar this spring.
The Knights' opening match is Saturday, April 7, visit our Athletics Scoreboard to follow their progress.