Panther fans can expect plenty of changes when the fall sports season rolls around in less than a month. With the exception of cross country, every fall sports team will have a new head coach leading the way at Lakeside High School.
The best-known coaching change is new athletics director Jody Grooms, who will lead the Lakeside football team this year. The Lady Panther volleyball team is also under new leadership as former head coach Keri Smith stepped down and coaches Danielle Gonzalez and Craig Middleton take over.
Longtime softball coach Jay Matthews won't lead the Lady Panthers anymore, either. In an interview last week, he sounded like a man with a 2-ton boulder just lifted off his shoulders.
"I'm totally out of softball now," he said last week. "It's a bit of a relief. It's a situation where everybody knows in Columbia County coaching baseball is a 12-month job. I'll be able to concentrate on that."
Matthews said Christine Gisler, an assistant coach with the softball team last year, will take over as head coach this season with Lakeside coach Donnie Burch helping out.
Hitting the links
There's plenty of golf news going around this summer. Here are just a few of the highlights coming from our local golfers:
- Lakeside golfers Brian Carter and Graham High have qualified for and will compete at the 2007 U.S. Junior Amateur. The good news is this golf event is in Augusta. The bad news is it's in Augusta, Missouri.
- Evans resident Cody Shafer recently placed ninth in the 13-14 age group at the 58th annual Press Thornton Future Masters Tournament in Dothan, Ala.
- Macy Cochran and Russell Sabol are heading to Pinehurst for the eighth annual U.S. Kids Golf World Championship on Aug. 2-4 after winning qualifying events in June at Laurel Spring Golf Club in Suwanee, Ga. Cochran, an Evans resident, took first place in the Girls 10-year-old division and Sabol of Martinez captured the top spot in the Boys 12-year-old division.
- Several local golfers found success on July 9 at the Georgia State Golf Association's Junior Sectional Program East Section Qualifier. The event took place at Belle Meade Country Club in Thomson. Local first place winners were Jacob Tilton (Evans, Boys 16-17), Neil Bock (Evans, Boys 14-15), Taylor Gove (Evans, Boys 12-13), Kristopher Douglass (Evans, Boys 11-and-under) and Megan Sabol (Martinez, Girls 13-and-under).
Another Columbia County athlete is college-bound. Curtis Baptist basketball player Ashley Holloway, a Martinez resident, signed a national letter of intent to play basketball at Andrew College in Cuthbert, Ga. Holloway, the first Lady Crusader to sign a college basketball scholarship in at least 10 years, averaged 10 points and seven rebounds a game last year.
Lakeside rising senior wrestler Kyle Tau is a strong favorite to take a region title or better in the 189-pound weight class for the upcoming season. He'd better be, considering the competition he's faced this summer. Tau attended a heavyweight wrestling camp at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. That's where he met and wrestled Olympic Gold Medalist Rulon Gardner.
"He threw me around pretty good," Tau said. "I did get to hold the Olympic Gold Medal he won, but not before he whipped up on me."
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