By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
A younger Grand Rapids West Catholic boys golf team felt it left too many strokes on the course in tying for fourth place at last spring's Division 3 Final at Michigan State’s Forest Akers East.
A season older and remembering that disappointment, the Falcons have left some of the state's top teams in their wake in starting this spring among the hottest teams in Michigan.
West Catholic received this week’s team Second Half High 5 after impressive showings in back-to-back tournaments against some of the state’s top competition. The Falcons shot 315 on April 12 to finish five strokes back of top-ranked Division 1 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central at the Kent County Classic at The Highlands. The next day, West Catholic shot a 303 in the Haslett Invitational at Forest Akers East to edge a bevy of strong Division 2 and 3 teams, including the No. 1s in both of those state polls.
“We pretty much expect to contend with anybody,” West Catholic coach Andy Weatherhead said. “We’d like to consistently get to the low 290s. I think that’s possible.”
Four returnees from last season’s team key this line-up. At the top is junior Sam Weatherhead – Andy’s son – who is arguably the state’s top player and finished runner-up at the Division 3 Final after losing a tie-breaker.
He won the individual medal at Kent County with a 68 – four better than Forest Hills Central’s Andrew Yeager, who has signed with the University of Michigan – and then shot a 3-under-par 69 to win at Forest Akers East.
Weatherhead is joined by seniors Matt Kowalczyk and Dalton Drumm and junior Adam Rooney. They all shot 87 or better at Kent County and 83 or lower at Forest Akers East.
All four have taken a jump this spring. Weatherhead shot in the 60s a few times last season, but has been there all this season so far. Kowalczyk and Drumm have cut strokes by improving their course management. And as a group, last season’s Finals jump – the Falcons finished 10th in 2010 – provided a confidence boost they continue to ride.
“No doubt, they were pretty excited,” Andy Weatherhead said of the Haslett Invite win. “We felt going in, as the only west side team going over there, we were in it to win it. We were a little upset the day before because we didn’t win the Classic, but we thought we were good enough. That’s the big thing about golf – thinking you’re good enough.
“It was kind of a spring board last year. We worked hard enough, and we’re good enough to be here.”
Click to read more about this week's other High 5s honorees.
PHOTO: Grand Rapids West Catholic tied for fourth at last season's Division 3 Final at Michigan State's Forest Akers West.