The high school golf players of Wallowa County will get their first taste of the 2004 season Friday at the China Creek meet in Arlington.
"It's an ice-breaker, a chance for us to get out on the course," said Enterprise coach Mike Crawford of the meet.
Crawford's boys team has won the state champion golf title four times in the last five year - an unprecedented record in 2A competition. He is in the enviable position of having four returning members of last year's state championship team, as well as a fresh crop of six freshmen.
The veterans are seniors Derek Huff and Nathan Slinker, junior Jake Thompson and sophomore Cole Phinney. First-year duffers on the team are Chad Conrad, Casey Chitwood, Mychal Butterfield, Brandon Nobles, Matt Exon and Andrew Kelly.
"With the four returning varsity players, we should be reasonably formidable as a team this year," the coach said
However, Crawford said that only three EHS girls have turned out for golf this year so far, and they will have to play individually unless the fourth girl needed to make up a team signs on. The girl players are junior Kayla Stoffel and sophomores Jessica Marcum and Anna Beaudoin.
Last year the EHS girls team also went to state, earning a ninth-place finish.
"It's early yet, so we're still hoping we'll have enough players for a girls team," Crawford said. He noted that there is still time for both boy and girl golfers to join the golf teams this year.
Down the valley, Wallowa High School golf coach Marvin Gibbs said he also plans to take a few players to the Arlington meet, but isn't yet sure of the makeup of his team. Last year there were a total of 13 golfers to turn out, but he said he is waiting until after spring break to put together his 2004 roster.