Eisenhower golf makes it to state finals

By: Mark Vest | Shelby - Utica News | Published June 19, 2013

 Utica Eisenhower’s Jack Hebert is pictured practicing chipping out of a sand trap. Eisenhower made it all the way to the Division 1 state finals.

Utica Eisenhower’s Jack Hebert is pictured practicing chipping out of a sand trap. Eisenhower made it all the way to the Division 1 state finals.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Last season, Utica Eisenhower’s golf team finished fourth in regionals, just one spot shy of qualifying for the finals.

Eisenhower coach Ryan deCardenas said he thinks that experience helped serve as a motivating factor for his team to try to create some better postseason memories this time around, and the Eagles will likely have plenty of good ones after taking second place at a Division 1 regional tournament June 4, which earned them a spot in the state finals.

Eisenhower went on to finish in 11th place in the D-1 state final, shooting 631 June 14-15 at Forest Akers West at Michigan State University.

The Eisenhower coach considers the  Eagles’ overall season a big success.

“We had set goals and (achieved) just about every goal we wanted,” he said. “We wanted to win the regional, but gives us a little hunger for next year. But the end result was getting to state finals as a team, since we missed it last year.”

According to deCardenas, it had been six years since Eisenhower made it as far as state tournament. Last season, Michael Gaulin qualified as an individual, and according to deCardenas, he wanted to have more company this year.

“That was one thing we sat down and talked about is, what do we want as team goals?” he said. “The first thing that came up was we (want to) reach state finals as a team this year instead of coming up short. That was one of our long-distance goals. Michael Gaulin continued to say, ‘I’ve been to states individually the year before; let’s do this as a team.’ Very proud of (them) making it as a team.”

Gaulin, Marc Hebert, Connor Jones, Jack Hebert and Ryan Jaros were all returning starters for Eisenhower, and deCardenas offered some ideas as to why his team was able to enjoy so much success during the season, which aside from a trip to the state final, included winning a district title and Macomb Area Conference Red Division championship for the second consecutive season.

“Good leadership, dedication, (and) devotion” he said. “Worked hard in the offseason; they put in time. First day of tryouts, kids were ready to go. The boys help each other out. “

While a lot of coaches may set lofty goals, it can be difficult for players to fully buy in without recent examples to show that they can indeed be accomplished, deCardenas said. He can now remind the players who will be coming into the program of what can be achieved, and he thinks the Eagles’ state-final appearance has the potential to be a big boost for Eisenhower.

“Good for the program,” the coach said. “Good for the kids to see them succeed at this level. With Michael getting there individually last year, put him in a spot where he drove the team. I think that helped out, individually, and also for our team. Just that awareness of, ‘This is the big show we (want to) get to and this is why we do what we do all year long.’”

Gaulin, Hebert and Jaros were Eisenhower’s three senior representatives. While deCardenas won’t have them to rely on next season, he did express optimism about the state of Eisenhower’s program moving forward.

“Connor Jones, junior, and Jack Hebert, sophomore, they’re (going to) be back,” he said. “And then we have a few underclassmen that are hungry and (want to) play. There was competition on our own team of driving each other to get better, and that’s helped out. With Connor and Jack, and this experience, they’re (going to) be bringing it back to the team for next year.”