Next step in play for Eagles golf

   Experience goes a long way in high school golf and Columbia City has that with its top four scorers from last season returning.
   It may not seem like golfing weather now but the Eagles are already prepping for an April 12 opener against county rivals Churubusco and Whitko. With experience, expectations are higher and it starts with  that first match.
   “We got the workings for big improvement,” Columbia City head coach Andrew Thompson said. “We’re ready to take the next step. There is no reason we can’t take the next step.”
   Columbia City knows four of its five golfers that will go in the varsity lineup. Competition remains for one void in the lineup.
   “The big question is who’s going to take that fifth spot,” Thompson noted. “We got Nathan Wilz with junior varsity experience and three freshmen that could potentially be part of that mix. There are a lot of guys that could take it.”
   Trent Murphy, Grant Jagger and Derek Philbee make up the incoming freshmen class.
   “I expect some good things out of them,” Thompson commented about his freshmen.
   The winner of the fifth spot will join a group of four returning varsity scorers that averaged 44.1 for nine holes.
   Junior Matt Rethlake leads all scorers from last season averaging 41.9 strokes per nine.
   According to Thompson, Rethlake has posted low numbers in a short spring practice and is prime to be No. 1 for the Eagles.
   “Matt is coming back with some good experience to build on,” Thompson said. “His abilities are uncanny.”
   Fellow junior Drew Burnsworth falls in behind Rethlake with a 42.3 average. Sophomore Drew Benedict returns at 45.9 and Dustin Parrett round out the top four at 46.2.
   Coming off a 2010 where they finished 5-10 overall and 2-5 in the Northeast Hoosier Conference,   Thompson promises better things are on the horizon for the Eagles.
   “You’re going to see the improvement,” Thompson said. “The ability of some of those guys is already there. It’s just a matter of it coming to fruition and them believing we can compete with the top teams in the conference.”