The following is the 2016 boys golf preview for the Northwest Press weekly newspaper.
Experience goes a long way on a golf course. La Salle hopes that’s the case this season as the Lancers are loaded with returning talent.
With four returning starters from a team that missed qualifying for state by three strokes last season, La Salle has the confidence required to compete this year.
“Experience is on our side this year,” said third-year coach Mike Erb. “We missed going to state last year by three strokes.”
Coming so close has left the Lancers hungry too.
Returning this season are senior team captain Patrick Miller, senior Justin Heflin, junior Matt Witzgal and junior Zane Benz.
Miller and Heflin were both second-team All-GCL South last season.
Erb said that last season Heflin lost on the sixth hole of a playoff in an individual bid to go to the state tournament.
There’s also an open competition for the fifth and sixth spots in the lineup between senior assistant captain Andrew Finley, senior Adam Woodard, senior Jake Hefron, and sophomores Nolan Enzweiler and Drew Daly.
“For me, this team can have some low scores,” said Erb. “It is my hope those rounds that are the lowest are in October. We have the talent and look for the challenge.”
On the surface, the golf season in 2015 for Colerain’s boys wasn’t what they wanted.
The Cardinals finished near the bottom in the Greater Miami Conference and they didn’t have any golfers named all-conference. But they can hang their hat on one thing: To close the season at the sectional tournament, the Cardinals shot a combined score of 328 — the lowest 18-hole score by a Colerain team in several years, said ninth-year coach Craig Miller.
It’s something to build on for a team that’s hungry and experienced.
“Nine returning seniors will be a part of this team,” said Miller. “Including one fourth-year varsity player, three third-year varsity players, and three second-year varsity players.”
Senior Jacob Wells had a nine-hole average of 43 last season, and Miller said he’s coming off a great off-season, so they’re looking for big things out of him. Seniors Nathan Lorenz, a four-year varsity starter, and Joe Snider each averaged 43.5 last season.
Miller also mentioned seniors Austin Diesel, who was part of last year’s sectional squad, Geoffrey Payne, Nathan Riddle and Matthew Laskey will help add depth and scoring power to the lineup.
Northwest enters the 2016 season looking for improvement after finishing 3-9 overall and winless inside the Southwest Ohio Conference last season. Jake Fishburn and Westen McClain received recognition from the conference last season.
Fishburn was named to the second team and McClain received honorable mention.
The Knights are coached by Tim Seger and Nathan Hale.
Golf could be described the endless search for improvement. That’s how Roger Bacon coach Jerry Bockhold, now in his 14th season, said his team likes to approach the season.
Bockhold doesn’t have many golfers on the roster — only nine had signed up prior to tryouts on Aug. 1 — but he’s seen improvement and believes there’s a comfort level that could lend itself on the quest for improvement.
“I like the fact that they’ve played now together for a couple of years,” he said. “And comfort level with kids at this age means a lot.”
The Spartans return junior Daniel Michaels and senior Vaughn Steele. Bockhold said Michaels has the skills and the potential, and Steele’s steadily improved all three years he’s been in the program.
“Just like any sport, you try to get them in the right position to score and get in their head about what’s good about your game, and what isn’t, and how you have to improve and think of everything on an even keel,” said Bockhold.
Sophomores Thomas Dunn and Jonathan Myers also return to the team. Myers and Dunn also play soccer at Roger Bacon, so if schedules conflict they have to choose a sport on that day. Bockhold said with Roger Bacon being a small school, he doesn’t mind if kids want to double up on sports.
Also keep an eye on sophomore Andrew Gruenwald, who missed last season after transferring from St. Xavier.
“He can bust the ball. I have big hopes for him,” Bockhold said of the transfer.
The Spartans open the season Aug. 8 with a Greater Catholic League Co-ed event at Hamilton Elks.
There’s a real confidence that comes with St. Xavier’s golf team.
As there should be — the Bombers are coming off a season in which they won a Greater Catholic League South championship, a sectional championship, a district championship and a state championship.
St. Xavier returns six of its top-10 golfers, and four with state tournament experience.
Last season, Zachary Pavlin, a senior, and juniors Cameron Frazier, the GCL South player of the year, and Michael Prebles all played in the state tournament last season at Ohio State. Senior Joey McCarthy, a state tournament participant as a sophomore in 2014, qualified and narrowly missed match play in the USGA Junior Amateur Championship this summer.
St. Xavier seventh-year coach Alex Kepley said, “All four of these guys have had experience playing in the GCL, sectionals, districts and state over the last two seasons.”
Part of why the Bombers are so competitive every year is they have multiple tiers of talent who push every part of the lineup.
So look for the likes of juniors Garrett Madden and Parker Getgey, both of whom were varsity top-10 last season, with senior John Robertson, juniors Nate Voytek and George Mitchell, and sophomore Oscar Zimmerman.
Kepley call his team, “A dedicated group of young men who all have varsity experience at a high level. They are competitive with each other but also have a friendship and respect for one another. A very coachable group and they understand the big picture in golf and are exceptionally mature and adult like on the course.”