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FALL ALL-AREA: Golf: Mead has more to prove

SEE MORE HERE: Golf Capsules

Photo by Marie Sicola / THE FREE LANCE–STAR

A disappointing result at the state tournament marred a strong junior season for Riverbend’s Michael Mead.

BY JUSTIN RICE

It was the best season in the history of Riverbend’s golf program, and junior Michael Mead was a big part of that.

But he knows there’s so much more still to accomplish.

“If you don’t get where you want to go, it’s good motivation,” Mead said. “You let it burn inside you—every swing on the range, and every rep in the weight room. Winning the state team title and the state individual tile—that’s the goal.”

    FALL ALL-AREA TEAMS

    This week, The Free Lance-Star is unveiling our fall high school All-Area teams. Here is the schedule:

    TODAY: Golf

    Tomorrow: Cross country

    Thursday: Volleyball

    Friday: Field hockey

    Saturday: Football All-Area team and coach of the year

    Sunday: Football player of the year

Mead is The Free Lance–Star’s 2012 golfer of the year. He placed second at the Northwest Region tournament and was the Commonwealth District’s regular-season scoring leader. Riverbend won the district team title, was second in the region and advanced to the Group AAA state meet.

And next year, Mead and the Bears will be hungry for even more.

“We’re losing just one senior [Adel Hasan], and we’re going to miss him,” Mead said, “but we’re bringing back a lot of talent.”

Mead didn’t play high school golf as a freshman and last year split time with the Bears’ JV football team. So the biggest—and perhaps most difficult—step towards improving this year was the decision to focus solely on golf.

“This year he was always the first one on the range and the last one off,” Riverbend coach Josh Johnson said.

Mead already plays year-round golf in state-wide juniors events, but the additional practice time couldn’t have hurt, and it helped the Bears build a close bond.

That bond, along with a supremely talented top six, helped Riverbend cruise to the district title, even when it wasn’t playing its best golf.

The same was true at the region tournament, when Riverbend placed second despite not playing at peak form.

The state tournament was disappointing, for both Mead and the Bears. After a promising first day, Riverbend—and especially Mead—faded in the second round.

“I felt like I was capable of [winning a state title],” Mead said. “The scores they were shooting were getable. I had swing issues that had been unanswered for a month or two, and they were coming undone. The band-aid was coming off.”

But there’s nothing like losing when it comes to motivation.

“Oh I know it’s going to [motivate him],” Johnson said. “He has it set in his mind on getting better.”

Mead has already seen improvement over the last year, and not just in his physical talents.

“My golf swing has come a long way from a year ago, but my mental toughness has really helped me out,” Mead said. “It’s a lot of decision-making and how you carry yourself. It can easily save you 1–10 strokes in a round.”

Mead already has begun laying out a tournament schedule for the coming spring and summer. He wants to be ready for his final high school season, and is hoping to have the chance to play golf at a Division I college.

Mead also thinks the entire Riverbend team will be working extra hard this offseason, trying to improve on last year’s team finish.

“He wants to be a district champ bad,” Johnson said. “He wants to win the region. He wants to come in the top five at the state. We’ve got five of our top six back, and we’re pretty deep. We’ve got some good talent, and the pipeline’s looking pretty good, too.”

Justin Rice: 540/368-5045

jrice@freelancestar.com

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