By SETH LAMAR
Gold Standard Sports Editor
The 2012 Fort Knox golf team entered the season with lots of new faces eager to learn and eager to improve. Both the girls’ and boys’ team made strides this season in the hopes of making an impact at their respective regional tournaments this week at Lindsey golf course.
For the girls’ team, Shannon Brown and Ashlyn Koonce led the way as Brown finished 7th overall among a field of 95 golfers with a score of 92 while Koonce shot a 112 in the Region 3 Tournament Monday. Brown and Koonce may have been the top performers for Knox, but head coach Kip Rambo has seen vast improvement in all of the Lady Eagles.
“Shannon Brown, Ashlyn Koonce and Jordan Almeida have all been improving rapidly,” he said. “Both Shannon and Ashlyn have had stretches of 18-hole tournaments where they have played nine holes in 45 strokes or less. They just seem to have two or three blow-up holes that are keeping them out of consistently shooting in the 90s. Jordan was new to our team this year and we have seen steady improvement in her scores and sixth-grader Addi Koonce is improving as are 10th graders Haley Fluharty and Queen Sullivan.”
In the tournament prior to this week’s regional, the Lady Eagles hit the road for the Girls’ Grant County Invitational at Eagle Creek Country Club. The tournament proved to be an accurate indication of how far the Knox girls have come this season as Brown was on pace for a score in the 80s with score of 42 after eight holes on the back nine. Ashlyn Koonce demonstrated her development by topping her previous score from last year by 25 strokes.
“Shannon barely missed the cut-off to qualify for the state tournament and was sitting in third place with her score of 92, but an 86 and an 84 knocked her from contention as the last scores were reported,” Rambo said.
The Lady Eagles will head into next season without Brown and Ashlyn Koonce, but Rambo thinks he will return four golfers for the girls’ team.
“Next year we will have most of our girls back, but it looks like Shannon will be PCSing so we will hav four coming back aside from Ashlyn,” he said.
The boys’ team was slated to hit the links at Lindsey the following morning after the girls, but inclement weather with heavy rains delayed play until yesterday.
In the matches leading up to the Region 3 Tournament, Knox sophomore Jon Box stepped up his game considerably by finishing with a 41 at LaRue County along with a 44 on the front nine against Thomas Nelson. Box and Corey Stark represented Knox at the No.1 and No. 2 positions in the regional tournament to lead a host of younger players such as sixth-graders Jalen Murray and Daniel Schultz.
While the Eagles are young, Rambo sees the advantages of getting players started at a younger age.
“This is the first year we’ve had sixth-graders on the team and I’ve always been a proponent of getting players started as soon as you possibly can,” he said. “Younger kids are better at imitating motion and all of them have really improved their ball strikes.”
As of now, Rambo expects his boys’ team to remain intact minus the departure of senior Rashaan Allen, who split time between football and hitting the golf course. Rambo said most of his team is very raw when it comes to the game of golf, but they are showing potential in the short time they’ve been playing.
“In a couple of years, Jon Box has the potential to play in college, but all have gotten better with hitting the ball,” he said. “In the two months they’ve been playing, with a few pars, a few bogies, they’ve gotten better and we’re hoping we get them back next year—which we should because most of our players only arrived (at Knox) this year.”