By Will LeBlond
The boys lacrosse season is well underway in Ithaca, but a pair of Little Red players have a different sport that they’re keeping in the back of their mind.
Nick Miller and Cam Mitchell are both centerpieces on this year’s edition of the Ithaca High lacrosse team, which got off to a 7-1 start to the season. Miller has been filling up the net with a deft goal-scoring touch, while Mitchell has been stellar on the other side of the field as the team’s starting goalie.
Their focus has been keen on the team’s success, but come mid-May, they will take their exploits from the field to the course and the 2017 New York State Boys Golf Championships. Both of them qualified during the fall season for the tournament, as the Southern Tier Athletic Conference, which Ithaca competes in, has their boys golf season at the end of 2016.
With much of the rest of the tournament field trying to earn their spots during the spring season when most other leagues have golf, the Ithaca seniors are trying to get ready for it, while battling on the lacrosse field.
“It’s difficult with the other leagues having golf in the spring,” said Mitchell. “Right now, I’m just trying to focus in on lacrosse.”
It is the first time that Mitchell has qualified for the state tournament, while Miller is getting ready for his third appearance. It was a work in progress during the fall for the senior duo as they both had to have stroke averages below the five-over-par cut line for the duration of the season.
“I can’t thank my coach, my dad, enough,” said Miller on his father Dan. “He’s the one that pushed throughout my six years on the team.”
They are both hoping for a solid culmination to their golf careers, but that’s an individual sport, and right now, they’re both worried about helping out with the lacrosse team.
“It’s tough, because my mind is certainly on lacrosse,” said Miller. “I don’t want to let my teammates down, but then again, I want to get my swing back. Whenever I get the chance, I’m going to head up to the course and just work on my swing.”
The school’s recent spring break gave them some time to hit the links and start prepping for the tournament, with the hopes that it won’t take too long for them to get the rhythm of their swing back.
“During the season, you get into a groove swinging the club,” said Mitchell. “The toughest part is going to be getting the feeling back and having so many months off of playing golf is going to be a challenge.”
At the end of the day, while it will be a challenge to get back to their top form on the golf course, it pales in comparison to their commitment to helping the lacrosse team work their way towards a Section IV Championship.
“You want to balance it out as much as you can, but if it conflicts, you want to go to the season that you’re in right now,” said Miller. “I would lean more towards lacrosse, just because I have a responsibility for the boys on the team and the coaches as well.”
Ithaca has consistently been ranked in the Top 20 in Class A by the New York State Sportswriters Association and have some big contests coming up. They will be at home on Tuesday, April 25, against Johnson City, then hit the road to face three-time reigning Section IV champion Corning on April 28.