HCHS golf squad could be growing into a regional contender in Lewis’ third season


Team members include, from left, front row: Cole Cornett, Brayden Casolari, Sebastian Mosley and Caleb Rose; Ethan Simpson, Matt Lewis, Parker Short, Alex Creech and Evan Simpson; not pictured: Elijah Moore.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

Golf is exploding at Harlan County High School, both in numbers and performance, and coach Greg Lewis is thrilled about the potential of his team after watching it grow from a three-man roster to a team of 10 this summer.
“I’m very excited about the potential of my team this year and for many years to come. We are not only young, but we are very talented and young,” Lewis said. “I believe we have a really good chance winning our conference championship and making a deep run in the regional tournament this year as well.”
As a junior with three years of varsity experience, Matt Lewis is the most experienced member of the team.
“Matt Lewis is our oldest player as a junior. He brings a lot of experience to the table for this team. Matt has really filled out and his strength is matching his touch on and around the greens,” Lewis said of his son. “He completely rebuilt his swing starting in March of this year and he’s starting to see the results of his work. He’s one bad hole away in each match we’ve played from having two wins and a top three. Matt’s best is definitely coming really soon. When the season is over, I definitely expect Matt to be in the mix for the conference player of the year.”
Brayden Casolari took the region by storm last year as a seventh-grader and has already won a tournament in the season’s opening week. Casolari plays golf through much of the year, competing in youth tournaments across Kentucky and Tennessee. That dedication has led to continued improvement.
“Brayden has made some significant improvements in his mental approach to the game. He’s still playing aggressively where he can but he’s learning when and where to lay back and play smart,” Lewis said. “He hits the ball extremely well and is a very good putter. Brayden is another player who will be making a push for the conference player of the year.”
While Casolari was probably the breakout player in the region a year ago, seventh-grade Cole Cornett could earn that distinction this fall as he earned a third-place finish in the season’s opening tournament.
“Cole is a seventh-grader who is coming out and making an immediate impact on our team,” Lewis said. “He’s young but has a really high golf IQ. He’s one of these guys that doesn’t do one single thing that will overwhelm you, but he’s very good in all aspects of his game. Cole is going to have some really good finishes this year but as he grows and fills out so his size and strength match his game he is going to put up a lot of good scores for a long time at HC. There’s going to be plenty of wins in his future.”
After a year away from golf, freshman Alex Creech has returned and gives the Bears another player who could compete on the regional level.
“Alex is coming back out to the team after taking a year off. Alex is another kid who just does everything well in his game. His short game is solid, he hits his irons well, and is a good putter,” Lewis said “Adding Alex into this group is going to really improve our scores.”
Key members of last year’s county championship middle school basketball squad, Ethan Simpson and Evan Simpson are adding golf to their resume as freshmen and have impressed their coach already in the season’s first two tournaments.
“Ethan and Evan Simpson are not only new to the team but they are new to competitive golf. They are two great kids with incredible work ethics,” Lewis said. “They are very raw talents but are already cutting several strokes off their scores each week. As they continue to practice and gain the experience necessary to be competitive on this level they will very soon be competing for top ten finishes. The future is very bright for Ethan and Evan.”
Two seventh-graders, Sebastian Mosley and Elijah Moore, have joined the high school team this fall and are making a smooth transition.
“Sebastian and Elijah are two new players coming out this season,” Lewis said. “They are two young kids who have great games. They just need to gain experience on the course competitively and develop a bit physically. Elijah has a great swing. He just needs the reps on the course to become familiar with everything. Sabby is a First Tee kid who has a good game. He is a very good putter. Like several others on the team, he just lacks the competitive experience on the course. As we get him more time in events to acclimate to high school golf, I think Sabby will be putting up really good scores for several years at HC.”
Parker Short, a sophomore, and Caleb Rose, a junior, round out the varsity roster.
“Parker is a new addition to the team. Much like the other players, he just lacks the on-course experience right now necessary to be successful in tournament golf. He is playing every day and improving daily. He’s going to be ready to put up some good scores really soon,” Lewis said. “Caleb is a junior returning to the team. Caleb was blessed to have had several opportunities this summer to attend various camps and programs for his academic accomplishments. He’s represented his team extremely well off the course this year. Now we just have to get him back out on the course to get his conditioning and game tournament ready. Soon he will be ready to get in there and put up some numbers.”
Lewis likes the direction his program is heading, noting that an expanded roster will help his golfers improve their games.
“I truly believe some of the toughest matches our players will have this season will be in our own practices,” he said. “For the first time in my tenure as coach, we have a number of guys who could win a match on any given week. For me though, even more impressive than the scores we put up are the attitudes of all 10 of these kids. I have 10 outstanding young men on this team.”