It’s a word that can be used to a degree to describe most, if not all, the boys golf teams not only in the Tri-County Area, but in District 9 as a whole.
One only has to look at last year’s final results from the D-9 Class 2A Championships where five of the six regional qualifiers — as well as close to a dozen of the Top 16 finishers overall — are back.
The lone regional qualifier from last year who graduated is Brookville Dane Lyle, while Clarion-Limestone’s Ian Callen and St. Marys’ Nate Beimel are among the other few Top 16 finishers who departed.
The group of returnees is headlined by reigning champion Connor Alfieri of Smethport. Defending Class 2A team champ Punxsutawney welcomes back its two regional qualifiers in runner-up Ryan Roberts and fifth-place Zack VanLeer.
Locally, Clarion-Limestone’s Hayden Siegel (3rd place) and Ridgway’s Zack Zameroski (6th place) return to the links to headline the local golfers.
But, beyond those who placed high at districts, a majority of the teams in the Tri-County Area will feature multiple golfers who played key roles on their squads a year ago.
That will be the case in Class 3A, where DuBois — the area’s lone team in that classification — has two district competitors (Dayne Bauman and Kaleb Hand) back among a large group of returnees for new coach Luke Bundy, who takes over for the program from Chris Taylor.
Elk County Catholic’s Denny Simons and St. Marys’ Bob Bauer join Bundy as new coaches among the area schools.
Here is a closer look at the teams in the Tri-County Area:
Coming off a tough 2018 season, Rovers coach Ray Carlson has some cause for optimism in 2019.
Carlson has one of his bigger teams (8 players) in recent years and welcomes back four players — senior Elijah Snell and sophomores Dylen Coder, Carter Nichols, Daniel Shugarts — who saw extensive varsity action a year ago.
Brockway, which lost just one player to graduation in former No. 1 Matthew Holt, did not have a player compete at the District 9 Class AA Championships a year ago.
“We have a bunch of returning starters this season and have the potential to be in some matches,” said Carlson. “I look for Dylen Coder and Daniel Shugarts to turn things around from last year. They have been playing decent golf and hopefully can get us over the hump with some good scoring.
“There also are some new faces who will hopefully round out the squad once they get in playing shape.”
Carlson said his starting lineup to open the season was still up the air, as a couple of qualifying rounds were still yet to be played entering Tuesday’s season-opener against DuBois at Brockway Golf Course.
Senior: Elijah Snell. Juniors: Aiden Bullers, Lance Dowdall, Dom Inzana, Cliff Kinser. Sophomores: Dylen Coder, Carter Nichols, Daniel Shugarts.
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.
Last season was quite a ride for the Clarion-Limestone 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.
“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.
Curwensville coach Mike Bookhamer has seen his roster nearly double in size this year to 16 players, seven of which are returnees. The Golden Tide had no seniors a year ago.
That group is led by junior Nate Hryn, who shot a two-day total of 177 to finish 10th last year at the District 9 Class 2A Championships. Hryn was tied for fourth (84) after the opening round. Senior Shane Miller (94) also competed at districts last year but didn’t make it out of Day 1.
Joining that duo as returnees are seniors Chris Daniels and Adam Miller and juniors Hudson Cannon and Mike Daniels. Sophomore Evan Losey also is back.
Five of the nine new players are freshmen, with the other four being juniors.
A pontential starting lineup wasn’t available for the Golden Tide.
Curwensville opens its season Tuesday at Brookville.
Seniors: Chris Daniels, Adam Miller, Shane Miller. Juniors: Hudson Cannon, Mike Daniels, Chase Graham, Nate Hryn, Tim Johnson, Mike McCracken, Nick McKeown. Sophomore: Evan Losey. Freshmen: Landon Bailor, Kaceton Ciamacco, Ty Colton, Phineas Mileski, Zach Peters.
The Beavers have a new look this season on the links as Luke Bundy takes over the coaching duties from long-time coach Chris Taylor.
And while Bundy is new to the high school golf scene, he is no stranger to coaching at the varsity level having served as the Beavers’ wrestling coach for 12 years before stepping side from that position this past March.
And, the first-year coach steps into a program that sports its largest roster in recent memory as Bundy has 17 players for the upcoming season. Nine of those players — led by seniors Dayne Bauman, Nic Cebulskie, Jayden Fulkroad, Kaleb hand and Jonah Watt — are returnees from a year ago.
Of the eight newcomers, three are six are underclassmen including three freshmen.
“I really like our team this year,” said Bundy. “We have a good mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen.”
And, both sets of players — veterans and newcomers — look to feature in Bundy’s lineup to open the season.
Bauman and hand, both of whom played last year at districts along with the graduated Alex Beers, look to lead the squad at No. 1 and 2, respectively. Both shot 92 on the opening day of the District 8-9 Class AAA Tournament and missed joining Beers (89) in playing in the final round.
“Dayne and Kaleb really have a good shot at competing for a district title, and they are also focused on trying to win team events also,” said Bundy. “They are good guys to have around and are good leaders for our younger guys.”
Fellow seniors Cebulskie and Fulkroad will following in the lineup, with sophomore Cody Jaconski slotting in the fifth spot and freshman Ian Decker at No. 6 to start the season.
“I am really impressed with our younger guys,” said Bundy. “I think the future is bright, and I am planning on trying to mix those younger guys into our scoring matches to get them experience for the upcoming years.”
Bundy will be assisted by Rob Burns and Mike Misiewicz.
DuBois, which opened its season Friday at the annual DuBois-St. Marys Challenge, travels to Brockway on Tuesday.
Seniors: Dayne Bauman, Nic Cebulksie, Cullen Corle, Keith Fatula, Jayden Fulkroad, Kaleb Hand, Jonah Watt. Junior: Alex Colbey. Sophomores: Anthony Chase, Landon Gustafson, Cody Jaconski, John Miller, Hayden Sweet, Jack Zimmerman. Freshmen: Ian Decker, Charlie Harmon, Gavin Kaschalk.
Second-year coach Mike Gralla enters this season with a new-look Cardinal lineup after losing eight seniors to graduation. Four of those departed players — Tyler McIntosh, Max Forcey, Kadin Danch and Sean Evans — were mainstays in the DCC lineup a year ago, while a couple others saw some varsity action.
Gralla does welcome back five players, with senior Parker Meholick (No. 3) and juniors Zach Spellen (No. 4) and Harrison Starr (No. 5) featured in Friday’s season-opening DuBois-St. Marys Challenge.
He also has two newcomers at the top of the lineup in senior Chase Hickman and freshman Carter Hickman, who played at No. 1 and 2, respectively, Friday.
The remainder of the Cardinal lineup will feature junior returnee Dante Armanini (No. 5), sophomore Colin Micknis (No. 7) and junior returnee Loren Way (No. 8).
“We are looking forward to our new players Chase (Hickman) and Carter (Hickman) to step up to help on varsity as well as getting consistency from Zach (Spellen), Parker (Meholick) and Dante (Armanini).”
The Cardinals return to action Monday at the Bavarian Hills Tournament in St. Marys.
Seniors: Chase Hickman, Parker Meholick. Juniors: Dante Armanini, Zach Spellen, Harrison Starr, Loren Way. Sophomore: Colin Micknis. Freshman: Carter Hickman.
The Crusaders graduated three seniors off last season’s squad, but return an experienced group of golfers under first-year head coach Denny Simons.
Elk County Catholic will now be without Ken Baron, Nick Daghir and Brady Schneider, but the team does return seniors Will Uberti and Nathan Roberts.
A talented three-player junior class includes Mark Kraus, Jordan DePrator and Jack Bauer.
Uberti posted a top-10 finish at the District 9 tournament last year, as he finished ninth with a score of 174 after rounds of 88 and 86.
Kraus posted ECC’s second best first-round score at districts with a 95, while Daghir, DePrator and Schneider shot rounds of 96, 97 and 98 in the first round at the D-9 tourney.
The other two golfers on the seven-player roster are sophomore Joe Geci and freshman Joey Dippold.
“The team’s strengths will be senior and junior leadership and the underclassmen working at their game to shoot better scores,” Simons said.
The head coach added that while it is his first season at the helm, he spent time as an assistant coach while his son Darren, who graduated in 2011, played.
Simons stressed that he needs to help the team play better so they can be competitive at each and every match.
Elk County Catholic opened its season Thursday at the Coudersport Invitational before participating in the DuBois-St. Marys challenge Friday.
Seniors: Will Uberti, Nathan Roberts. Juniors: Mark Kraus, Jordan DePrator, Jack Bauer. Sophomore: Joe Geci. Freshman: Joey Dippold.
Ridgway entered last season with one of its most inexperienced squads in recent memory, but the Elkers still managed to qualify to compete as a team at the District 9 Class 2A Championships (placed 6th) while pushing one golfer (Zack Zameroski) through to the West Regional Tournament.
Fast forward a year, and veteran coach Eric Herzing welcomes back virtually his entire team from 2018 minus a couple players — including graduated seniors in Evan Johnson and Luke Tomaski.
Zameroski (sixth at district as a junior), now a senior is back to lead what is now an experience group that features fellow senior Greg Simon, juniors Eric Christoff, Sean Fitch and Cole Norlin and sophomore Derek Peterson. Simon and Christoff each competed individually at districts along with Zameroski.
The roster doesn’t end there as Ridgway welcomes seven newcomers, a couple of whom will be in the lineup to open the season.
Herzing’s projected starting lineup (1-8) is Zameroski, Simon, Christoff, sophomore newcomer Collin Porter, Norlin, Fitch, Peterson and freshman Kole Asti.
“It’s exciting to get the season started,” said Herzing. “We have a good group that has played a lot of golf this summer. The team has good experienced leaders in Zack and Greg, and we are excited to see what the younger guys can do.
“Some have been impressive in the early practices, and we will see what we have right away with three events (this week).”
Ridgway opens its season Monday at the Bavarian Hills Tournament in St. Marys.
Seniors: Greg Simon, Zack Zameroski. Juniors: Eric Christoff, Sean Fitch, Cole Norlin. Sophomores: Derek Peterson, Collin Porter. Freshmen: Kole Asti, Brent DeFranco, Eric Gustafson, Buddy Handley, Logan Jordan, Wyat Shaffer
The Dutchmen will have a much different look on the course this year, as the team is under the direction of a new head coach as well as six seniors from last season’s team.
Bob Bauer is taking over as head coach for St. Marys as he is now the team’s third coach in as many years.
As for the team, they will now be without a talented class that included Brandon Sicheri, Nate Beimel, Paul Armanin, Lucas Erich, Matthew Bellina and Brenden Krucke.
Beimel was the team’s top finisher at the District 9 tournament last year as he posted rounds of 96 and 98 to finish in 15th with a score of 184. Bellina missed the cut after Day 1 at the district tournament with a first-round score of 90, while Erich posted a 101.
Lucas Benjamin also competed at districts for the Dutch as a freshman, as he posted a score of 96 in the first round and will return this season for his second year with the team.
Benjamin is part of a talented, young returning core that Bauer feels could have a strong season, as the team features two juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen.
“Our underclassmen have some surprising talent and I am expecting that they will be competing amongst themselves to secure a starting role in our matches,” Bauer said.
The team also has a pair of seniors on the roster in Trevor Atkinson and Justice Rhoads.
Bauer is not unfamiliar with the team, as he spent last year as a volunteer assistant coach and he feels the biggest challenge this year will be getting the team to perform at their peak in every match.
The Dutch opened their season with the Coudersport Invitational Thursday before playing in the DuBois-St. Marys challenge on Friday.
Bauer said heading into the season that the two early matches would be a good measure for where his team stands heading into the year. The head coach also noted that he wants to eliminate his team’s mental errors that he felt plagued them last year.
“We lost some pretty close matches that if we had not made some course management errors, we should have won,” Bauer said.
He added that he is looking to eliminate the number of penalty strokes his team takes in matches, which he called round killers.
Seniors: Trevor Atkinson, Justice Rhoads. Juniors: Ryan Hanes, Holden Housler. Sophomores: Lucas Benjamin, Brayden Clyde, Jaidalyn Gerg. Freshmen: Sam Allegretto, Sam Bowes, Vincent Lenze, Elias Nedimyer, Ethan Schlimm.
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Sports writers Rich Rhoades and Craig Moyer contributed to this story.