A trip to the 2A West Regional is nothing new for the Lincolnton Wolves under the direction of head coach Scott Cloninger.
Including this season, the Wolves have made it to golfâ€™s post-season nine of the past 10 years.
What is the key according to Cloninger?
â€œI would have to say Lincoln Country Club. Weâ€™ve had a run of golfers who enjoy playing golf and the country club has been nice to us to allow us to practice and prepare ourselves there,â€ he said.
This Wolvesâ€™ edition of the golf team is led by senior Kyle Gazdeck, whom Cloninger calls his most consistent golfer.
Gazdeck, who has a low of 78 on the season, always shoots in the low 80â€™s.
Senior Matthew Goodson, who has improved his game over the past couple of years, and senior Michael Allred, have joined Gazdeck as solid senior leaders.
â€œYou look to your seniors for leadership and those three have given us leadership on and off the course with their golf ability and their character,â€ Cloninger said.
Juniors Morty Wadsworth and Daniel Goodson, have stepped up and have filled the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the Wolvesâ€™ lineup this season.
They, along with freshman standout John Gilleland, make Cloninger very confident about Lincolntonâ€™s team for the years to come.
â€œI think we got a good nucleus for the future with those two and Gilleland coming back,â€ he said.
Gilleland, who Cloninger calls the biggest bright spot, once finished second in a Midwest 2A match with a score of 74 at East Rutherford.
â€œHe saved us a couple of times this year. Every time I ride by, I see him out there (at the country club) playing. He doesnâ€™t hit it long, but he hits it straight and keeps it in play,â€ Cloninger said.
Senior Chad Poteat has also broke into the top six of Lincolntonâ€™s lineup with his solid play.
The Western 2A Regional will be in Newland at Mountain Glenn Country Club. The top three teams advance to state.
Cloninger believes the regional serves as a valuable experience.
â€œItâ€™s a good learning experience. We played in the regionals years ago, and we played against a golfer from Forest Hills. He went to Wake Forest and he won the ACC Championship, so you can tell what type of competition youâ€™re up against,â€ he said.
In 2002, the Wolves beat Shelby at the regionals to qualify for the 2A State Tournament.
Cloninger is hoping this yearâ€™s group will follow in those same footsteps.
â€œWhen you get to the regionals, one good round will put you through to the state,â€ he said.
â€œWeâ€™re playing better right now and anything can happen at the regional,â€ he added.
No matter the outcome, Cloninger is pleased with his teamâ€™s play and season.
â€œItâ€™s been a successful season. Iâ€™m very happy for the team. That was one of our goals. Itâ€™s very rewarding to go to the next level as a team.â€
by John Mark Brooks