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Tioga County Sports Report
ELMIRA — SVEC’s Jacob Banks wasn’t expecting to be playing golf competitively at this point in the high school season, but on Sunday the junior will tee off in the NYSPHSAA Boys Golf Championships.

Coming into the season, playing in the state tournament was not one of his goals.

“To be honest, I think my individual goal was just to make it to the state qualifier, so making the state team was a bonus,” Banks said.

As far as the state tournament goes, Banks really has no expectations.

“I'm just going to go out and try my best and see what happens,” he said. “It's really icing on the cake at this point.”

The Eagles went 11-0 this season, winning the IAC South Large School regular season and IAC Large School tournament titles while placing second at the Section IV Class C tournament.

“I know as a team we were expecting to win sectionals, so that was a little disappointing, but we did win IACs, which makes up for it I guess,” said Banks.

His first interaction with the sport came at a very young age.

“I had a club in my hands since I was one, but I didn't really start playing and taking it seriously until I was probably like 10, like actually go out on the golf course and playing and stuff, and practicing, but I’ve had a club in my hand since I was really young,” Banks said.

“I like the team aspect of high school and college golf, where you get to play as a team, and it’s an individual and a team sport, which is nice,” Banks said. “I like how it's so self-dependent too, so the amount of hours you put in, it’s kind of self-dependent on how good you are. You’re not dependent on a team really, so that's nice. I like that part.”

Banks plays about two hours per day, so typically logs 14 hours per week on the course, sometimes more.

He doesn’t play a lot competitively during the off-season though.

“A little bit, but not all too much,” he said. “In the summer it’s mostly just playing myself and practicing. I play a couple of tournaments here and there, but not much.”

During the fall, Banks is focused on soccer, another sport where he has excelled, which doesn’t leave much time to work on his golf game. When he does hit the links, it’s usually on the weekends.

Banks is a three-sport athlete, also playing on the Candor basketball team during the winter season.

Being on a team with competitive athletes has been a plus for Banks.

“Playing together on the course and playing games and being competitive, that really helps,” he said. “And just being around them, it just kind of takes the edge off. It helps.”

Younger brother Noah is one of his teammates and at times has challenged the older sibling, making their budding rivalry competitive.

“It's starting to get there,” he said. “He just picked it up two years ago, so it wasn't, but he's getting better and it's really starting to get more competitive.”

Overall, Banks’ season has gone well.

“I think, on a whole, it was pretty good. I think that the conditions, especially earlier, were not the greatest and I think handled that well,” he said. “Usually in the past I haven't played great in bad conditions, but this year is a little different. The cold and the wind just really didn't affect me as much, and once it got hotter I started hitting the ball farther and it really helped.”

Jacob has been on the golf team with me since seventh grade,” said Kevin Jester, who co-coaches SVEC with Joe Darrow. “He has always shown discipline and dedication to the sport.

“He plays a very consistent and smart game. Through the years his consistency has helped our team improve and has been a huge part of our recent success. He and his teammates had a lot of fun this year and we all are looking forward to next season.”

The SVEC program should only get better with its entire varsity roster returning next year. In addition to Banks, Taylor Brock brings a strong game. He was the IAC Large School medalist and missed making the state medalist tourney by a single stroke. Banks posted seven medalist rounds in dual matches, Brock had three and the duo shared the honor on one occasion.

Also on the varsity were Nathan Gillette, Tyler Greeno and Addison Young.

“I think we're in a really good place because we return all of our guys, so I think if we just keep in the trend of getting better, we should be,” Banks said. “I think we'll do really good next year.”

Banks will tee off on No. 10 at 9 a.m., partnered up with Vincent Falagiatano from Bishop Grimes and Saratoga’s Carter Sica. Falagiatano placed third in the Section III West state qualifier and Sica took fourth in the Section II state qualifier.

“I have confidence that Jacob will be prepared to play in the state tournament and I'm sure he is looking forward to the challenge of competing with the best in the state,” Jensen said.

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