Junior Casey Nations, left, and senior Taft Cleverly, right, hit off the driving range at Yampa Valley Golf Course. Nations and Cleverly are two of the top three golfers entering the season for the Moffat County High School boys golf team, which has set high expectations for itself in 2013.

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Junior Casey Nations, left, and senior Taft Cleverly, right, hit off the driving range at Yampa Valley Golf Course. Nations and Cleverly are two of the top three golfers entering the season for the Moffat County High School boys golf team, which has set high expectations for itself in 2013.

Moffat County boys golf swinging strong in 2013

2013 Moffat County boys golf schedule

Aug. 13: 8 a.m. Eagle Vail Golf Course, Avon

Aug. 14: 9 a.m. Gypsum Creek Golf Course, Gypsum

Aug. 15: 9 a.m. Rifle Creek Golf Course, Rifle

Aug. 19: 11 a.m. Bookcliff Golf Course, Grand Junction

Aug. 28: 9 a.m. Devil’s Thumb Golf Course, Delta

Aug. 29: 9 a.m. Cobble Creek Golf Course, Montrose

Sept. 4: 9 a.m. Yampa Valley Golf Course

Sept. 5: 9 a.m. Haymaker Golf Course, Steamboat Springs

Sept. 10: 9 a.m. hosted by Durango High School, Durango

Sept. 13: 10 a.m. Cedar Ridges Golf Course, Rangely

Sept. 17: Time TBD Gypsum Creek Golf Course, Gypsum

With increased experience and a deeper roster entering the fall, the outlook for the Moffat County boys golf team in 2013 is looking up.

Last year the boys golf team introduced a new head coach and returned just one varsity golfer. The result was a young group that displayed some inconsistency throughout the season in trying to work on their golf games.

This year, returning varsity golfers and promising newcomers have the Bulldogs thinking bigger.

“We definitely have some expectations from our top golfers,” said head coach Casey Kilpatrick. “Casey Nations, Taft Cleverly and Tyler Jenkins, all three of those guys can post scores in the low 80s, and I just need them to drop into the 70s and we’ll be competitive at tournaments. Are we going to win a bunch? I don’t know. Only if we have a really good day, but we’re going to be competitive.”

Nations and Jenkins emerged as the team’s top two last season and have put in significant time this summer in getting better. Cleverly is joining the team this year, and has shown the ability to post low scores, giving the Bulldogs high hopes for the season.

“There are a lot higher expectations this year,” Jenkins said. “We’re hoping for a good team. There’s a lot more competition within the team this year.”

That competition among teammates especially turns up after the top three. Each boys golf team brings five members to a varsity tournament, and Kilpatrick has three other golfers who posting similar scores for the final two spots.

Freshman Mike Bingham and returning members Colten Yoast and Chris Kling were within four strokes of each other in the team’s first practice round.

“It’s really competitive for the last two spots,” Kilpatrick said. “Mikey (Bingham) has a really good swing for a freshman, and I’m excited to work with him. (Colten) Yoast, he can bomb it, and I’m excited to see him improve his short game. Then Chris Kling has really come on this year. I think he’s stopped growing so much and now he’s really swinging the stick nicely.”

The Bulldogs have already had to play competitive practice rounds because the fall golf season begins quickly. They head to tournaments Aug. 13, 14 and 15 and will play in seven other tournaments before regionals Sept. 17.

But many of the golfers are feeling confident about the quick start, a product of the time they put in over the summer. Nations, who emerged as one of the team’s top golfers midway through the season last year, worked at Yampa Valley Golf Course this summer and played nearly every day.

“I think I’ve improved since last year, and I’m excited to see what I can do this year,” he said. “I want to break 80.”

Even the coach is feeling more confident entering the 2013 season, his second as the team leader.

“Last year I had some holdovers from the (Ken) Harjes era who were great golfers, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Kilpatrick said. “Now I feel like this is really my team. Now we’re able to give a consistent message from one year to the next.”

Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com

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