WINNETKA — Being a leader on the Evanston boys golf team isn’t all about shooting the lowest scores.
Coach Jed Curtis knows everybody has off days. What Curtis said he wants from Sam Knepper and Bill Nondorf is for the seniors to exude a positive attitude on the course, whether they made a birdie or bogey.
“I learned last year what it takes to be in my position,” Nondorf said. “You have to walk around with your head up and see what you can do for the team, even if you are down on yourself.”
Knepper said Curtis “doesn’t get mad if you play bad.”
“He gets mad if you play bad and give up,” Knepper added. “If I’m not playing my best, I always try and keep a smile on my face and act like I am playing well. You never know if you might be that fourth score that is counted.”
In a 146-165 loss on Sept. 11 to New Trier at Winnetka Golf Club, Nondorf shot a 4-over 39 to tie junior Nick Lydon for team honors. Senior Adam Niedbalski followed with a 43, and Knepper’s 44 was good for the fourth and final score.
Only Knepper and Nondorf are left from last year’s state lineup. They were part of a team that tied for seventh at the 2013 Class 3A state golf tournament — which was the best finish in program history. Jake Casati, Henry Gruger, Jackson Mihevc and Evan Ter Molen all graduated.
“We are trying to forge our own identity,” Curtis said. “We have struggled a bit, but we are grinding and improving. The guys want to keep going the success we had last year.
“We just have to find a way to play within ourselves.”
Nondorf said he’s been happy with how he’s played so far this season. On Saturday at Shepherd’s Crook, he shot a team-best 80 and finished 11th at Zion-Benton’s tournament. The Wildkits were 11th in the 23-team field after recording a 347.
Meanwhile, Knepper said he’s enjoying his spot near the top of the lineup.
“Last year, I was fighting for that sixth spot, so I could be a starter,” said Knepper, whose 87 was second on the team Saturday. “It’s a different kind of stress this year, being a leader, but I like it.”
While the Wildkits haven’t put it all together yet this season, Knepper said the team is capable of posting low scores. Lydon, who shot a 39 from the No. 8 spot in the lineup against the Trevians, is an example of that.
“Now, it’s about us doing it all at the same time,” Knepper said.