Minus coach, GHS golf team opens season August 1st
By Richard White
The Greenwood High School girls and boys golf teams are currently practicing in preparation for the start of their season next Tuesday at Springdale. But they will begin and play most of their season without Head Coach Ronnie Williams. Filling in for Williams will be Ronnie Sockey, Head Coach for Lady Bulldogs’ softball.
“I might get a chance to go to state,” said Williams of his expected return to the links by late September or early October. The long-time GHS coach is dealing with a recurring bout of cancer and is currently in Irving, Texas for five weeks of treatment, including proton radiation and surgery.
“I will not be around for much of the season,” he said. “Coach Sockey is doing golf for me this year.” Williams, who also coaches junior high girls basketball, hopes to be back with the golf team in time for the post-season (Girls – Sept. 25-27; Boys – Oct. 2-4).
“Both teams should be pretty competitive,” he said by telephone before departing for Texas. “I’ve got four of my top five boys back.” The Bulldogs finished second in the state in Class 6A last fall behind first place Jonesboro.
Returning for the GHS boys this season will be veterans Evan Griffith, Nathan Munday, Houston Sowell, and Bradley Brotherton. Mundy and Sowell are seniors, while Griffith and Brotherton are juniors. Griffith also finished as the medalist runner-up in the 6A state tournament last season and earned All-State honors.
Other players include Trey and Gannon Keddie, Will Pickler, and Chris Pierce, all seniors, sophomores Cameron Adams, Nolan Brasher, and Landon Tuck; and freshmen Brady Fein and Hayden Weaver.
The Lady Bulldogs have doubled their number from last year’s three players to six this season, adding a pair of freshmen and a new senior, to go along with senior veteran Sydnie Gamble and returning sophomores Jordyn Lane and Ella Austin.
Gamble finished last season as the medalist runner-up in the 6A state tournament, earning All-State recognition and a chance to play in the state’s overall tournament, finishing sixth out of 21 golfers.
Freshmen Erin Gilbert and Olivia Walker have joined the team this summer along with senior Jaelee (J.J.) Mohetau, a move-in from Hawaii last fall. Mohetau drives the ball well and recently had a hole-in-one during practice at Greenwood’s Vache Grasse Country Club on a par-4 hole.
Asked about when he learned of his new position as assistant coach for golf, Sockey said, “About the end of May when we first got out of school. [Coach Williams] asked me. I had told him I was interested if it ever opened up – to give me another sport. I’ve always liked golf and being outside.”
Still getting familiar with all the players, Coach Sockey was nonetheless high on both squads. “We’ve got a couple of good freshman who’ve been playing really well and learning the game,” he said of Brady Fein and Hayden Weaver. “We’ve got a good group of about six [boys] that are going to be competing for that third, fourth, and fifth spot every week. It’s going to be competitive and they’re going to have to work hard to stay in the top five.”
As for the ladies, Sockey was pleased to note that the squad has doubled in size since last season. Among the returnees, senior Sydnie Gamble is the anchor with an outstanding pedigree over her varsity career. But the coach was also keen on returning sophomores Ella Austin and Jordyn Lane.
“Those two girls have really been working hard this summer, playing extra and taking lessons. Their scores have been getting better. If we can get them shooting in the low 90s or upper 80s, it will be a plus,” he said.
As for the two incoming freshmen, Erin Gilbert and Olivia Walker, Sockey said, “They’re just learning the game and have the potential to help us later on down the road.” Both girls also play basketball.
But perhaps the wildcard for the girls this season will be senior move-in Jaelee Mohetau. “We call her J.J.,” said the coach. “She’s got a beautiful swing. A really good, natural swing. She’s been a surprise. She’s a really big hitter. She can hit the ball a long way off the tee when she gets a hold of it.”
The GHS boys and girls will open their season next month with a pair of two-day, 36-hole tournaments at Springdale (August 1-2) and Mountain Home (August 7-8). Eleven regular season matches follow, seven are nine-hole events and four will cover 18 holes.
The Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs have just four home matches scheduled at Vache Grasse, but will also play four matches at Fort Smith’s Ben Geren course. Greenwood’s first home match will be on August 22nd against Dover and Springdale.
Additional road matches include visits to Russellville, Fayetteville, and Siloam Springs. Other opponents this season includes Springdale Har-Ber, Alma, and Fort Smith Southside.