The 2015 prep golf season officially gets underway with the Champaign County tournament this morning. All five golf programs will take to the freshly-cut Urbana Country Club to shake off the rust and hunt for an early title.
Urbana’s boys will be led by new coach Jerome Armstrong and top returner Greg Coffey. Josh Blakely, Trenton Dunham, Taylor Armstrong and Gabe Johnson will all get varsity time and should improve into a competitive squad in the CBC’s Mad River Division.
West Liberty-Salem, fresh off consecutive state appearances, will be in a tough spot without four of its top five golfers from last season. Two athletes graduated, while two more didn’t come out for the team.
“Just trying to get them ready is going to be a big task,” WL-S Coach Darrin Leichty said. “They just have to get a lot more swings in.”
Dillon Callicoat and Max Eggleston will shoulder the load for the Tigers as the only two returning players with varsity experience.
Michael Frederick, Jake Woodruff, Tyler Gardner, Bryce Ward and Tylar Jett will all fight for playing time.
With so much inexperience, WL-S’s streak of six straight OHC titles could be in jeopardy.
“I’ll feel a lot better about things in three or four weeks,” Leichty said.
Mechanicsburg will be making a push to the top of the OHC on the boys’ side, with the Tigers down a notch.
“I have six really strong golfers,” M’burg Coach Todd Trainer said. “It’s just a matter of whether we can string those four scores together every night.”
Caleb Westfall and Mack Cushman will provide the Indians an interchangeable and unmatched 1-2 punch at the top of the squad, with Corey Bogan and Cody Minor following. David McMahill and Jack Shoemaker will round out the squad.
Trainer expects to be in the lead after his first group comes in virtually every night.
“It’s going to be a matter of ‘can we hold on?’” he said. “We’re looking good, I think.”
The only blemish in the early going for the Indians is a shoulder injury that has taken Keane Dunn – the projected number three varsity player – for the season.
At Triad, Coach John Millice continues to put pieces together, working with young and inexperienced golfers. But he says the Cardinals are on the right track now.
“We’ll be better than we have been,” Millice said. “We’re maybe middle of the pack.”
The Cardinals will sport a lineup of Shem Pond and Alec Ober for leadership, as well as freshman William McDavid. Millice calls McDavid his “secret weapon this year.”
Caleb Young, Braxton Perry, Zach Warner and Creighton Bradley will all compete for varsity playing time.
“With the small improvements I’ve seen, I’m excited about competing,” Millice said.
The Cardinals’ girls squad has a few new faces after a fourth-place OHC finish last season.
Chasity Curton will head the team as a senior after lettering each of the previous two seasons and earning OHC honorable mention last year.
“With her experience, she will be a leader with both score and attitude,” Coach Patrick Johnson said.
Macy Linscott will add another two-year letterwinner to the team, one that earned OHC Second Team honors a year ago.
Jen Pelfrey comes back for a second year, while Sabrina Thompson, Jess Woodard and Courtney Yutzy start as first-year players.
“Macy and the other returning golfers will be leading this team and we have high expectations,” Johnson said. “The girls’ squad can be competitive in many golf matches.”
At Mechanicsburg, Kelly Weber’s girls will be sparse. Returner Sheena Payne will be the most reliable player on a team that graduated five seniors.
“We struggled even gathering enough girls this year,” Weber said. “They’re all willing to learn the game. They want to enjoy it. They want to have fun with it.”
Weber said the key to this season will be getting the new girls to save strokes in the short game, which will require a lot of repetition and practice around the greens.
“It’s definitely a rebuilding year,” Weber said.
At Graham, the girls are leaning on two girls to carry the workload. Mallory Roberts and Mollie Greenlee will have to do the scoring while the rest of the squad develops. Coach Tony Metzler has attainable goals for the Falcons.
“I think we’ll be all right,” Metzler said. “Improve throughout the year and finish in the top half of the league.”
Infiormation on Graham boys golf was not provided.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller