Buff golf team looking strong

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com
After Milligan graduated five golfers last year, coach Tony Wallingford had to play the recruiting role rather fiercely.
Returning only three players and gaining six new golfers, Coach Wallingford's recruitment has apparently been successful. The coach summed up the atmosphere of the team best when he said, "The roster has a great local flavor."
Possible initial allegations might be that Coach Wallingford simply didn't expand his search for talent, but with a closer look, one will see that the local mix is filled with superior talent.
Michael Morrell, a former Elizabethton High student, is a returning senior for the Milligan team. Morrell made all conference last year and is currently the number two golfer on the Buffaloes' team.
During the tri-match held at the Elizabethton Golf Course, during which the team competed with colleges such as UVA-Wise and Virginia Intermont, Morrell shot a 71 - one under par.
Coach Wallingford's remaining two returners are two of the only three players that are not from the area. Nelson Caudill is a senior from Winchester, Kentucky, and Nate Tincher is a sophomore from Jacksonville, Florida.
The top golfer for Milligan is currently Matt Barefoot, who averages around 73 strokes. Barefoot is a freshman, having just graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High in Kingsport.
Aaron Jesse, who attended Daniel Boone High, spent his first year of college at Radford University in Virginia. Jesse then became interested in returning home, and Wallingford stepped in with an answer, recruiting him to play for Milligan. Jesse holds the number three position on the team, averaging in at 77.
The number four golfer is the only other player that didn't come from Northeast Tennessee. Ryan Morris, a freshman from Frankfurt, Indiana, averages 76 strokes.
"It's kind of a new team for us," said Wallingford, referring to the number of young golfers on the team. "We had five seniors last year. They all graduated, so that's why we have all the young players."
The next golfer to be introduced is Matt Ongie, a freshman who attended Science Hill. "Matt is really a late bloomer," said Wallingford. "He's just now heavily getting into golf."
Ongie holds the number five spot on the nine-man team, averaging 76 shots.
Daniel Sochalski, a former Elizabethton High student, is a freshman on Wallingford's team. Sochalski was the number one golfer at Elizabethton during high school.
"They were all outstanding in high school," Wallingford said of the freshman Milligan golfers that he recruited.
Completing the freshmen is Matt Cornett, a graduate of Johnson County High. Cornett was the top golfer at JCHS almost his entire high school career.
"They give the team a new look," Wallingford said. "They're very young, but very talented. They're a good group of guys to work with."
Wallingford even admitted that despite having five seniors the previous year, his new, fresh team has more talent as a whole than last year's team. Attaining that level is no small feat, considering that last year's team was runner-up in the conference.
"I'm really looking forward to getting them out there and seeing what they can do," Wallingford said. The team is currently wrapping up their fall season, which spans the months of August and September.
The spring season will start the beginning of March, and last through April.