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Huskies golf coaches discuss new season

Mar. 12—OTHELLO — Trevor Salsbury and Heather Ochoa, head coaches of the Othello Boys and Girls Golf teams respectively, discussed how they feel going into the new season and what they expect this year to look like.

"I'm hopeful," Salsbury said. "We're very young this year; I lost three of my seniors last year who were my three feeding golfers and it's kind of a rebuild year. But we have a lot of young golfers who are doing well and I have one senior who's doing pretty well. I'm just hoping that they continue to progress throughout the season...They're taking instruction very well, they're eager to get better, so I think they're on the right path."

Ochoa also said she is hopeful her players will perform well.

"We're very hopeful because I have two girls who are returning who attended state, so that's always exciting," she said. "And I actually have a couple more that if they play well, they could make the cut to at least perform at districts and then they have a shot to go to state. So we're in a pretty good position."

Othello senior Mariah Murdock and junior Sami Shade are the two returning players who went to state last season, Ochoa said.

"They've been (to state), and they have good work ethic, and they kind of know what it takes to get a repeat trip," she said.

Ochoa highlighted an up-and-coming player as well, freshman Eileen Garza.

"I do have a freshman that looks like she could (go to state)," Ochoa said. "She shows a lot of promise. She's interested in it and her family has a golf background, so those are the kids that tend to pursue it a little bit more with commitment, rather than just showing up at the start of golf season and being done at the last high school match."

The boys team also has a few returning players leading the pack this season, Salsbury said.

"I have Ajay Parrish, who's a senior. He's probably my number one," he said. "I have Spencer Lawson, who's a senior. He's probably my three or four. And I have a junior, Samson McDonald who's my number two and then it's just like a handful of sophomores."

Salsbury said the boys team did well last season.

"Last season, I had the league MVP and I had three on first team," he said. "So we were, between us and Ephrata — Ephrata is a pretty good program — we were neck and neck all season. I think they got us by maybe a few points at the end. We were really competitive last year. This year, I just don't want to get last."

Salsbury said he thinks his players will do pretty well this season.

"I think I'll have at least one at state. Last year, I had three," he said. "At the district tournament, I took nine last year. I'm hoping to take at least five this year and that would be a good season to me because we're so young."

The boys team's first tournament took place recently in Pasco, and Salsbury said his players did pretty well.

"We didn't have anyone in the hundreds, which to me is amazing for how young this group is," Salsbury said. "Ajay and Spencer were I think 85 or 86. So that's pretty good for your first tournament. I mean, we didn't even get two weeks of practice before that one, so I didn't expect any perfection or anything like that, I just want them to continue to grow and not get down on themselves when they do have bad days."

Ochoa also talked about how the girls team performed last year.

"We were actually about middle of the pack. Ephrata had a strong showing and so did Selah, and I think East Valley was ahead of us, and then I think we were about the middle," she said. "So, hoping to move up a little; we'll see."

For this season's training, Salisbury said his goal is to focus on the short game, trying to get players to practice putting rather than just driving.

"If I can just get them to spend more time up here (on the putting green) and get their putting game down they can cut strokes so fast, so that's what I'm trying to teach these young kids," he said.

Players' short game will also be Ochoa's emphasis, she said

"As always, you're trying to get these kids to understand the importance of chipping and putting," she said, "because you can get down to a hole in pretty good shape, but then if it takes you three or four putts to get in, then you've kind of just defeated the great shots you had getting down to the hole."

Ochoa also pointed out the importance of planning shots.

"We're always just working hard to get the girls to have a consistent swing so that it's more about worrying about your next shot," she said. "It might not go as far but you're in a safe place."

Ochoa reflected on the season overall.

"I'm just happy to get out there, and it's an enjoyable time," she said. "You're just hoping to turn these kids on to liking golf as a lifetime sport."

Gabriel Davis may be reached at gdavis@columbiabasinherald.com.