After a trip to the state tournament last season, Mechanicsburg’s boys golf team is looking toward another strong year after improvement from some players and the return of Keane Dunn from injury.
The Indians will trot out Caleb Westfall, who has a chance to medal in any tournament in which he plays, Corey Bogan, Dunn and Jack Schumaker. Senior David McMahill will be the fifth man on the squad.
“We’re looking pretty good. We’re off to a good start,” M’burg Coach Todd Trainer said. “All the courses are dry, so scoring is going to be way up here early.”
For the talented Westfall, that may not be the case.
“The mental game for Caleb is the hardest part. The physical game is there,” Trainer said. “He hits the ball right down the middle, he hits iron shots close, he makes putts. As long as he keeps his emotions under control, he’s going to play well.”
West Liberty-Salem may have something to say about Mechanicsburg’s chase for an Ohio Heritage Conference title.
The Tigers have standouts Dillon Callicoat and Max Eggleston back from a season ago, with Kannon Stillings returning after a year off. Returners Michael Frederick, Tyler Gardner and Logan Brown are all improved, giving the Tigers a scary core with a chance to be really special.
“We’ve got a pretty experienced group back this year,” WL-S Coach Darrin Leichty said. “We should be pretty strong to compete for a league title.”
Callicoat went from being the man on the outside looking in at the scoring two years ago to being simply “The Man” for this squad last season and again this year.
“He’s such a competitor. It’s typical for us to finish and he’s back out on the course until dark,” Leichty said. “He sets the tone for us, putting in the time and the effort.”
At Urbana, the Hillclimbers are operating without a senior.
Freshmen Ethan Headlee, Cole Headlee, Taylor Armstrong and Triad transfer William McDavid will form the core of the Urbana attack, once McDavid is eligible. Brandon Ebert and Reid Taylor will complete the varsity.
“We’re a young team. We graduated a lot last year,” UHS Coach Jerome Armstrong said. “We’re probably not going to do too much in the conference this year, but the future is bright.”
On the girls’ side, the squad is young and inexperienced, having lost four seniors from last year’s CBC championship team to graduation. The Hillclimbers will sport sophomores Rebecca Chess and Ally Pierce and freshman Jolynn Stoops. Senior Gabrielle Pence is the lone player with varsity experience, while fellow senior Elaina Thomas will also join the team.
At CBC rival Graham, the Falcons will be looking to first-year coach Tom Milligan to steady the ship.
Mark Ward, Logan Black and Chasen Poole offer some experience, with freshman Andy Milligan showing promise early.
“The four, five and six players, we have like five kids that can fill in for those,” Milligan said. “We’re going to get some kids some experience. It’s been fun.”
Alex Jenkins was the Falcons’ top scorer from a year ago, but he graduated.
“We’re looking for someone to fill the shoes up. We set some goals for the kids,” Milligan said.
At Triad, seniors Caleb Young and Alec Ober will anchor the squad, with Creighton Bradley, Jacob Greve, Austin Deere, Braxton Perry, Derek Bruce also playing.
“Caleb’s put in a lot of time in the last year. He’s improved tremendously,” Triad Coach Patrick Johnson said. “We really think we can be up there with (Catholic Central, West Liberty-Salem and Mechanicsburg).”
For the girls, seniors Macy Linscott and Jess Woodard lead the way.
“They’re both looking for league recognition,” Johnson said.
Jen Pelfrey, Keyligh Boldman and Kallie Smith will fill out the team.
“Outside of Fairbanks, we think we can compete with everyone else in the league. Fairbanks is going to be incredibly tough,” Johnson said.
Some local coaches were unable to be reached for this preview.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.