PALMYRA — Like many siblings, the Smestad brothers — Josh and Sam — are rivals yet quick to give credit when and where it’s due.

Josh, a senior, is recognized as the better overall athlete, especially when it comes to basketball and baseball. But Sam, a junior, owns the golf course. And he knows it.

“I think (Josh) knows his place,” Sam said before the two broke out into laughter.

But when you combine the brothers together on the course — along with the play of senior Zach Hartsgrove and freshman up-and-comer Lindsay Cote — you have the core of the Nokomis golf team, a group that has enjoyed an 11-0 regular season and will play for a Class B state championships for the first time since 1999.

Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro will host the team state championships Saturday.

The season hasn’t surprised the Smestads, or any of the Warrior golfers for that matter.

“I think we (expected to do well),” Sam Smestad said. “I think, as we’ve been progressing through these years, a lot of these guys are athletic guys. We played a lot of different sports with them. Throughout the season as we’ve played, throughout the summer as we’ve played, I don’t think we were looking for an undefeated season, but we were looking to make a run for the championship.”

The Warriors qualified for states by finishing second at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B qualifier at Natanis on Sept. 26. Nokomis tied with Gardiner with 335 points for second place behind Erskine, which had 327 points.

Part of Nokomis’ success has come from a rivalry between all the golfers.

“We’re always talking about, on bus rides, who is going to shoot better,” Josh Smestad said. “It brings out excitement, it brings out competitive nature within our own team that makes us better.”

Sam Smestad also qualified for the individual state championships on Oct. 14, as he shot a 75 at the qualifier. He shared the top spot in KVAC B with Waterville’s Cody Pellerin.

“I was looking for a good round, and I started off birdie-birdie (over the first couple of holes),” he said. “I had good swing thoughts and I was feeling it, so I knew it was going to be a good day.”

Hartsgrove — who shot a 79 — also qualified, while Cote — shooting a 94 — qualified for individual girls state championships.

Sam Smestad may be the better golfer in the family, but Josh is trying to close the gap.

“I do know he’s the better golfer,” Josh Smestad said. “But I’m still competitive, and I still look to beat him, get him on a bad round. As a family, we have our own little Masters tournament on his birthday, in August. And we get to play with our handicaps, so I have a chance to beat him. That’s fine, because then it comes down to who can putt, who can chip, who can play.”

Sam and Josh are just two of six kids in the Smestad family, including five boys, with ages ranging from 12 to 24.

“It’s chaos, especially when we were younger, just bringing our parents chaos,” Sam Smestad said. “But we all get along. It’s a rivalry between (Sam and Josh) against our older brothers and younger brother. But it’s a good rivalry, because we always strive to be better.”

While the brothers are together on the golf course, their days contrast a bit — Sam is part a co-operative home-schooled group. The small class, Sam said, takes a couple of trips per year, including one out of the country.

“There’s four of us in total (in the home school group),” Sam Smestad said. “We’re all just friends. All of their parents help out, we know teachers who are retired and come and help out. We get a lot of good people mixed into it.”

Josh Smestad — who was home-schooled until ninth grade — recalls trips to Colorado and Haiti, among others, before attending Nokomis.

“That’s kind of why I wanted to stay in home-school,” Josh Smestad said. “You have the ability and flexibility of a school setting. You could do math in the car toward Colorado, or stop and learn about salt mines. After that year, I felt like I had done my traveling, so that’s when I decided to do public school and experience that.”

And he’s tried to recruit Sam in the process.

“(Sam) is still in home school, and that’s been tough,” Josh Smestad said. “I’ve been trying to nag him a little bit about coming to public school.”

For now, the Smestads join together one more time, hoping to lead the Warriors to a state title.

“I think (the motto) we’re living by right now is ‘one shot at a time,'” Josh Smestad said. “It’s just that idea of composure and just enjoying the moment. We haven’t been here in 20 years as a team. So to have this privilege, we’re just going to enjoy it and take it one shot at a time, like coach (Matt Brown) keeps telling us. Erskine’s been here before, they won last year. We don’t even know which teams are in (B South). We don’t even know what they’re shooting. So we’re just going to go in there blind.”

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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