Finishing just two shots shy of team champion Punxsutawney at last year’s District 9 Class 2A Golf Championships at Pinecrest Country Club, the Clarion-Limestone Lions return three of their top four scorers.
The KSAC champion Lions have juniors Hayden Siegel and Hayden Callen leading the way. Siegel was a regional qualifier after finishing third at districts, two shots off the lead. Callen made the cut to the second day of districts and wound up tied for 12th.
For the Brookville Raiders, senior David Cable returns with postseason experience. He also made the second day of districts and finished 16th.
The season gets under way as early as Friday for the Lions, who play their first KSAC match Friday at Clarion Oaks Golf Course. The Raiders open next Tuesday at home against Curwensville while the Lady Raiders open their Allegheny Mountain League schedule Monday at Eagles Ridge Golf Course in Curwensville.
This year’s postseason dates have the girls playing at Pinecrest Country Club on Sept. 30 while the boys’ tournament is set for Punxsutawney County Club on Sept. 23 and 28.
Here’s a closer look at the area teams:
Last season was quite a ride for the Lions, who won the KSAC title and fell two strokes shy of tying Punxsutawney at the District 9 Tournament at Pinecrest Country Club last fall.
The Lions have all but one of their players back from that lineup as Ian Callen departed via graduation. Head coach Jason Craig does have returning regional qualifier Hayden Siegel and Hayden Callen back to lead the lineup.
Siegel finished third, two strokes off the lead for the individual title, while Callen finished tied for 13th, also making the cut to the second day of individual districts. Senior Kaden Park also played at districts and didn’t make the cut to the second day.
The D9 Class 2A field could be much stronger this year considering that five of the six regional qualifiers return, led by reigning champion Connor Alfieri of Smethport, and the defending champion Chucks having their two regional qualifiers back with runner-up Ryan Roberts and fifth-place Zack VanLeer.
“Hayden Siegel and Kaden Park played a lot of golf this summer and Hayden Callen will be right there too,” Craig said. “Having the experience he went through last year getting to regionals, I’d be shocked if Hayden (Siegel) didn’t make it there again. His composure being just a junior, he’s become a leader of the team. He plays all the time and tries to help the younger kids. He’s certainly been an asset.”
The key for the Lions to challenge for a team title is to replace the graduated Callen’s spot in the lineup. Senior newcomer Ian Larson, who golfed at districts for Keystone last fall, junior Sydney Simpson who filled in a few times last year in the varsity lineup, along with newcomers in sophomore Braden Smith and freshman Brady Henry, will try to fill the need.
“Obviously, we need to replace Ian and we’re hoping Ian Larson can help fill those shoes and if we can field a solid four, maybe we can make a run,” Craig said. “We need Ian, Sydney, Braden or Brady to come in with something in the 40s. We’ll be competitive if they can.
“I’m really looking forward to it. We had some who played a lot and a few trying to find their way, but we are out there as much they can to get ready for next week. … We have some kids with a desire to win and get back to districts and make a run at it again this year. Last year was exciting. They’re still talking about it.”
Simpson played mostly on the girls’ side of the schedule last year and this year there’s an eight-match KSAC setup starting Thursday at Foxburg Country Club.
Seniors: Kaden Park, Ian Larson.
Juniors: Hayden Callen, Hayden Siegel, Sydney Simpson.
Sophomore: Braden Smith.
Freshman: Brady Henry.
16-at Clarion Oaks GC; 19-at Foxburg CC; 21-at Cross Creek Resort; 29-at Hunter Station GC.
3-at Hi-Level GC; 10-at Wanango GC; 12-at Clarion Oaks GC; 17-at Foxburg CC; 18-at Punxsutawney Invitational, 9 a.m.; 19-at Lake Arthur GC; 23/28-District 9 Tournament, at Punxsutawney CC.
KSAC matches begin at 4 p.m.
15-at Foxburg CC, 9 a.m.; 16-at Hiland GC, Butler, 10:40 a.m.; 20-at Clarion Oaks.
3-at Clarion Oaks; 9-at Hi-Level GC; 16-at Hi-Level GC; 25-at Hi-Level GC; 26-at Lake Arthur GC.
Matches begin at 4 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
It might be veteran head coach Ben Pete’s most inexperienced roster as he heads into his 17th season with the Raiders, who have just one senior in their No. 1 man in David Cable.
Cable reached the second day of individual districts after shooting a first-round 86 and was tied for seventh, but slipped to 16th.
“He’s played longer than the others, so David’s probably our best hope for a postseason run,” Pete said. “I spoke to him earlier about having a leadership role in helping kids get where they need to be for the next couple of years. None of have played as much as he has in his short career, so hopefully they’ll see what it takes to get to at least that level.”
Juniors Hayden Osborne and Isaac Wolfe, and sophomores Ian Pete and Bryce Rafferty saw limited varsity action last year in the No. 5 and 6 spots, so they’ll be the favorites to fill out the rest of the varsity lineup at this point However, that could vary from match to match.
“Nobody has played a tremendous amount of golf, so we’ll have to wait and see how things go with that,” said Pete, whose team finished 5-4 in dual matches last year. “I have a feeling we’ll have some fluctuation within the lineup.”
Senior: David Cable
Juniors: Isaac Wolfe, Hayden Osborne, Chase Evans.
Sophomores: Ian Pete, Owen Caylor, Colton Lyons, Hunter Geer, Patrick Diedrich, Jacob Frampton, Bryce Rafferty.
Freshman: Riley Smith.
20-Curwensville, noon; 22-at Punxsutawney, 10 a.m.; 26-at DuBois CC (DuBois CC); 27-Brockway; 29-at DuBois.
4-Ridgway; 5-at Curwensville (Eagles Ridge GC); 9-DuBois; 10-DuBois CC; 11-Punxsutawney; 17-at Brockway (Owens-Brockway GC); 18-at Punxsutawney Invitational, 10 a.m.; 23/28-District 9 Tournament, at Punxsutawney CC.
Matches begin at 3:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
Brookville Lady Raiders
The numbers aren’t plentiful for fourth-year head coach Alison Bernat, who starts the season with five girls on the roster. The Allegheny Mountain League takes the best four scores out a six-man maximum lineup during its matches.
Senior Hannah Cline and juniors Rilee Kelly and Regan Ganoe will be joined by two newcomers in sophomore Karlee Stiver and freshman Audrey Barrett. The Lady Raiders lost their two district players — Jenna Grant and Bailey Ganoe — to graduation.
The returning trio mixed with two rookies with some golf background has Bernat looking forward to the season.
“They have some experience with some lessons and time to learn, so nobody is totally fresh out of the gate,” Bernat said. “That’ll be a huge help and a nice addition to the girls with a couple of years of experience.
Once again, the AML consists of the Lady Raiders, Punxsutawney, Ridgway, Brockway, Curwensville and DuBois. The league schedule consists of 10 matches with the Lady Raiders hosting Kane in a non-league match next Wednesday at Pinecrest Country Club, also the site of this year’s district tournament. Bernat hopes to have a couple players averaging low enough to merit a trip to the postseason.
“It’s such a fast season,” Bernat said. “It’s hard to know too much in advance and it’ll be baptism by fire. Through that playing, they’ll learn and get better so they’ll have some experience and have fun as the season goes on.”
Senior: Hannah Cline
Juniors: Rilee Kelly, Regan Ganoe.
Sophomore: Karlee Stiver.
Freshman: Audrey Barrett.
19-at Curwensville (Eagles Ridge GC); 21-Kane; 22-at DuBois (TL Gold); 27-at Punxsutawney; 29-at Brockway (Owens-Brockway GC).
3-Host League, Pinecrest CC; 5-at Ridgway (Laurel Mill GC); 9-at DuBois (TL Gold); 12-at Curwensville (Eagle Ridge GC); 17-at Ridgway (Laurel Mill GC); 18-at DuBois Invitational (TL Silver), 10 a.m.; 19-at Punxsutawney; 23-Host League, Pinecrest CC; 26-at Brockway (Owens-Brockway GC); 30-District 9 Tournament, Pinecrest CC, TBA.
Matches begin at 3 p.m. unless otherwise noted.