DuBOIS — The 2018 high boys golf season brings with it more change than usual in the Tri-County Area, as two local schools welcome new head coaches while others have seen some shakeup when it comes to their rosters and players who will hit the links this season.
Mike Gralla has taken the reins of the DuBois central Catholic program from previous coach Mike Micknis, while at St. Marys, Travis Wendel — an assistant for several years — takes over the top position from long-time coach Dan Volllmer.
Elk County Catholic also has a new coach this season, but it’s a very familar one in Athletic Director Aaron Straub, who previously coached the team from 1981-1994 and again from 2015-16. Straub takes over for Luke Daghir, who guided the team last season.
New players will be the big change over at Brockway, where coach Ray Carlson enters the season with just one player who won the roster this time last year.
Despite those major changes, some things will remain the same for several other veteran coaches who also return a wealth experience at the individual level.
Ridgway junior Zack Zameroski was only area player to qualify for the west Regional Tournament at Tom’s Run in Blairsville last year. Zameroski tied four fourth at the District 9 Class AA Championships with a 169, then went on to tie for 37th at regionals with a 91.
While Zameroski was the lone regional qualifier, he wasn’t the lone local product to experience playing on the final day of the D-9 Championships at Pennhills in Bradford.
A total of seven area golfers advance past the opening round of districts, with three of those players — DuBois’ Nick Cotter in AAA and Elk County Catholic’s Ryan Newton and St. Marys’ Ryan Bressler in AA — having graduated.
Brookville’s Dane Lyle (8th in AA, 176) returns this season along with Zameroski, as does Clarion-Limestone’s Hayden Siegel (9th, 177) and ECC’s Brady Schneider (14th, 185).
Here is a closer look at the teams in the Tri-County Area:
To say the Rovers will have a new look on the links this season would be an understatement.
Coach Ray Carlson lost four seniors — Brendan Allison, Derek Bennett, Angelo Inzana, Devin Velez — to graduation, while just one of the four underclassmen on last year’s opening day roster is still with the team.
That lone returnee is senior Matthew Holt, who is joined on this seniors squad by junior Elijah Snell and a quarter of freshmen in Dylen Coder, Carter Nichols, Austin Schmader and Daniel Shugarts.
“We have a very young team this year, and coming off a couple down years, there is nowhere to go but up,” said Carlson. “We have some athletic kids on the team, so hopefully that can translate into some decent scoring as they play themselves into shape throughout the season.
“Im looking for Mathew Holt to step up this year as the lone senior.. He’s been hitting the ball nicely and just has to iron out a couple wrinkles.
“I’m optimistic that the kids will have fun a be competitive this season.”
Brockway opens the season Tuesday at home against DuBois at 10 a.m..
Senior: Matthew Holt. Junior: Elijah Snell. Freshmen: Dylen Coder, Carter Nichols, Austin Schmader, Daniel Shugarts.
It’s the biggest roster ever for the Raiders under head coach Ben Pete, who enters his 16th season with last year’s roster returning intact with the addition of eight freshmen for a large 17-player roster.
“I didn’t lose anybody, so the whole team is back from last year and with the incoming freshmen, most are learning the game for the first time, so we’ll see what we’ll get from that,” said Pete, whose team went 4-7 in dual matches.
“It’ll come down to those seniors and a couple underclassmen to fill the varsity lineup.”
Senior Dane Lyle is the team’s top returning player. He made the first-round cut at districts and wound up eighth with a 36-hole 176, six strokes behind the sixth and final regional berth.
“He’s been playing a lot of golf and has had some rounds in the 30s this summer,” Pete said. “He’s played the most out of anyone on the team and he could be one of the better players in the league for sure.”
Junior David Cable also played at districts and senior Brady Caylor was in the mix at the top of the lineup all last season as well.
Those three along with other seniors Adam Mackins, Justin Barrett and Aaron Briggs will fill up most of the varsity lineup at the outset with the rest of the underclassmen looking to contribute at some point.
“I’ll try to get some younger kids in that sixth spot and rely on the top five for scoring, to get some kids some varsity experience,” Pete said. “Looking ahead when I lose these seniors for next year, someone is going to need to fill those varsity spots, so it is important. It’s an important year to make some jumps and learn the game and hopefully they play a lot more golf for next year.”
Brookville gets its season started Tuesday at home against Curwensville with a 12 p.m. match at Pinecrest Country Club.
The Raiders also play at Punxsutawney next Thursday. The defending D-9 Class AA and AML champion Chucks return enough talent to be the preseason favorites.
Seniors: Adam Mackins, Dane Lyle, Justin Barrett, Aaron Briggs, Brady Caylor. Junior: David Cable. Sophomores: Hayden Osborne, Isaac Wolfe, Chase Evans. Freshmen: Owen Caylor, Ian Pete, Camdyn Davie, Colton Lyons, Hunter Geer, Jacob Frampton, Patrick Diedrich, Bay Harper.
With three all-conference players back from last year’s fourth-place team in the KSAC, head coach Jason Craig is optimistic for the upcoming season.
Sophomore Hayden Siegel and senior Ian Callen were first-teamers while junior Kaden Clark was a third-team selection. That trio are joined by sophomore Hayden Callen, and freshmen Braden Smith and Isaac Stormer, form a small but talented roster.
“We have the team where we can compete with the other KSAC schools and I’d definitely like to get a lineup to district and compete there for a title,” said Craig. “I don’t want to get too optimistic, but we’re in as good of shape as anybody in the KSAC.”
Siegel had a strong freshman season and made the first-round cut at districts. He was tied for second place after the first round before settling for ninth.
“We joked that Hayden has a cot in the back room at Clarion Oaks,” Craig said. “He won his flight championship there. He has a strong short game and is accurate off the tee, and I think he’s getting more yards off the tee as well.”
“And Ian is a great athlete who can play any sport and be successful,” Craig added. “And with Kaden, I’d expect him to move up as well.”
Sophomore Hayden Callen will likely be in the mix for a top-four spot in the lineup with the freshmen Smith and Stormer following.
Senior: Ian Callen. Junior: Kaden Park. Sophomores: Hayden Callen, Hayden Siegel. Freshmen: Braden Smith.
Cotter was lost to graduation along with Zhane Powell and Ryan Mitskavich, but veteran coach Chris Taylor welcomes back a pair of players who competed at districts a year ago in juniors Kaleb Hand and Dayne Bauman.
Add in senior lettermen Alex Beers, and the Beavers have a strong trio to lead a squad that features a handful of other players who saw varsity action at some point a year ago.
Taylor pointed to junior Nic Cebulskie as a player in that group who could take that next step this season and join Hand, Bauman and Beers as one of the team leaders.
Hand carded a team-best 86 (fourth overall) in the season-opening DuBois-St. Marys Challenge Friday, while Beers had the next best score with a 91. Senior Jeremy Krise (94) along with Cebulskie (97) and Bauman (100) also factored into the Beavers’ scoring.
“We have seven players returning who have played in varsity matches, so we are counting on their experience making them more comfortable in competitive situations on the course,” said Taylor. “I hope to see a little more consistency this year than last when it comes to our head-to-head matches.
“I would love to have eight or nine players count their score at least once in a dual match at some point this year.”
DuBois is back in action Monday morning at the Bavarian Hills Tournament in St. Marys.
Seniors: Alex Beers, Jeremy Krise. Juniors: Dayne Bauman, Nic Cebulskie, Jayden Fulkroad, Kaleb Hand, Bryce Micknis, Jonah Watt. Freshmen: Landon Gustafson, Cody Jaconski, John Miller, Colin Micknis, Jack Zimmerman.
The Cardinals are under new leadership this season, as Michael Gralla has taken over the reins of the program from Mike Micknis.
Gralla takes over an experienced team that had no seniors a year ago but now features an eight-member senior class — most of whom got ample playing time a year ago.
Tyler McIntosh leads that group as the Cardinals’ top player, with fellow seniors Max Forcey, Kadin Danch and Sean Evans starting in spots two through four in the season-opening DuBois-St. Marys Challenge Friday at Leaning Pines in St. Marys.
Junior Parker Meholick and sophomore Dante Armanini rounded out DCC’s starting lineup at the event, where McIntosh (91), Forcey (93) and Danch (98) all shot in the 90s.
“I am excited to take on this new opportunity, and I am ready to help make our players the best that they can be,” said Gralla. “Our top three are very consistent, but at the bottom of our top 6, there is a great chance that multiple kids could jump themselves into a varsity match.”
Seniors Jake Snyder and Zane Felix, among others, are in the group battling to crack the Top 6 in the starting lineup.
Gralla’s transition into taking over the team will be aided by the return of assistant coach Michael Misiwiecz, a DCC graduated.
“He will be a huge help to me by both knowing the game of golf very well and knowing each of our players,” said Gralla of Misiwiecz.
Central Catholic plays at the Bavarian Hills Invitational Monday.
Senior: Kadin Danch, Sean Evans, Zane Felix, Max Forcey, Zane Gaither, Tyler McIntosh, Jake Snyder, Kenny Starr. Junior: Parker Meholick. Sophomores: Dante Armanini, Zach Spellen, Harrison Starr, Loren Way.
Elk County Catholic
Straub and Schneider are both back to lead an ECC squad that lost three players to graduation but just one (Ryan Newton) who scored at the District 9 Class AA Championships as the Crusaders posted a runner-up finish to Punxsutawney at Pennhills Club in Bradford.
Junior Will Uberti and sophomore Mark Kraus also are back to give ECC a strong trio at the top of their lineup. Uberti and Kraus both were among the quarter that scored at team districts a year ago.
Straub also had two other letterwinners back in senior Nick Daghir and junior Nathan Roberts.
Schneider is already off to a strong start this season as ECC’s No. 1 player, capturing medalist honors at both the Coudersport Invitational (77) and DuBois-St. Marys Challenge (78) on Thursday and Friday, respectively. ECC also posted the top team scores at both events.
Roberts carded an 80 Friday at the Challenge for the second-best round of the day, while Uberti had an 83. Kraus has shot in the upper 80s at the two season-opening tournaments.
That quarter is currently joined in the starting lineup (Top 6 as of Friday) by sophomore Jordan DePrator and Daghir.
“It is a pleasure to once again have the opportunity to coach the Elk County Catholic golf team,” said Straub. “We have a great group of student athletes who are playing on the golf team this year for Elk County Catholic High School. The young men on our team will represent our school, our community and our home golf course (Leaning Pines) with a great deal of class, pride, and a great competitive spirit.
“A successful golf team starts with strength at the top of the lineup. Brady Schneider is our No. 1 man and will be a four-year letter-winner in golf. We will look to Brady to be a leader on the scoreboard, on the course and in our school. He has been around the game for a long time and has the skill set, physical ability, and aptitude to be one of the best players in the area.
“We have some guys in the middle of the lineup that have put in a good amount of time since last year and could have breakout seasons. Our second, third, fourth, and fifth men will be the key to our season.”
Elk County returns to action Monday at the Bavarian Hills Tournament.
Seniors: Ken Baron, Nick Daghir, Brady Schneider. Juniors: Taylor Boland, Nathan Roberts, Will Uberti. Sophomores: Jordan DePrator, Mark Kraus. Freshmen: Joey Geci, Elliot Rupprecht.
Ridgway entered last season with its most inexperienced squads in several years, and the end result was the Elkers saw their four-year reign as District 9 Class AA team champions come to an end as Punxsutawney won the team crown a season ago.
The season was far from a lost cause the Elkers though. Zameroksi finished tied for fourth at districts with a two-day total of 169 (85-84). Fellow junior Greg Simon just missed reaching the second day of the D-9 AA championships as he wound up in a three-way tie for 17th-place, one shot behind the cutline for day No. 2.
That duo, the team’s lone juniors, are back to lead a strong core of seven lettermen who hope to lead the Elkers back to the top of District 9. That group of lettermen features the team’s only seniors in Evan Johnson and Luke Tomaski, as well as sophomores Eric Christoff, Michael Gresco and Nolan Shaffer.
The seven lettermen will make up the Elkers’ top seven in the starting lineup, with sophomore Cole Norlin opening the year in the No. 8 spot.
“We have some experience returning with seven letterwinners coming back, but the jury is still out if we have played enough golf this summer to be competitive this fall,” said Ridgway coach Eric Herzing. “You have to put the work in during May and June if you want to play well in September.
“Evan has been around, and he and Luke will be great senior leaders for us while Zack and Greg should have a chance to make Tom’s Run just as they did (chance) last year. Zack left Tom’s Run a year ago determined to be back. They have both been working hard all summer.
“For the team to do well, Christoff, Gresco, Shaffer, Norlin and (sophomore Sean) Fitch are gonna have to get more comfortable and find a way to shoot some decent scores. We are looking forward to it.”
Ridgway opens its season Monday at the Bavarian Hills Invitational.
Seniors: Evan Johnson, Luke Tomaski. Juniors: Greg Simon, Zack Zameroski. Sophomores: Eric Christoff, Michael Gresco, Nolan Shaffer, Cole Norlin, Sean Fitch, John Douglas. Freshman: Derek Peterson.
Under first-year coach Travis Wendel, St. Marys will look to a handful of returning golfers for strong seasons, as well as a group of freshmen and first-year golfers to have strong seasons.
Wendell said he is excited for the upcoming season and feels he has a well rounded team.
While the coach believes his starters could change from week to week, he said he expects seniors Nate Beimel, Matt Bellina, Paul Armanini and Lucas Erich to see the most action on the course.
Beimel and Bellina each represented St. Marys at the District 9 tournament last season. Bellina shot a first round 95 and missed the cut by four strokes, while Beimel shot a 96 at the district tournament.
Senior newcomer Brandon Sicheri and juniors Trevor Atkinson and Anthony Whitaker will likely round out the starting lineup for the Flying Dutchmen to open the season.
Wendel said Lucas Benjamin is a talented golfer who could contribute to the team in his freshmen season.
Outside of the handful of golfers expected to start at the beginning of the season, Wendell said he has a lot of talented and dedicated golfers on his roster who will look to earn starting positions throughout the season.
“I have a feeling that the kids on this team will push each other to be not only better golfers, but better people,” Wendell said.
The coach noted that the six seniors on the team have all taken leadership roles and are good role models to the younger golfers on the team.
St. Marys is back in action Monday morning as it plays host to the Bavarian Hills Invitational.
Seniors: Brandon Sicheri, Brenden Krucke, Lucas Erich, Matthew Bellina, Nathan Beimel, Paul Armanini. Juniors: Anthony Whitaker, Justice Rhoads, Ryan Hanes, Trever Atkinson. Sophomores: Ben Sorg, Isaac Schlimm, Lucas Huff, Holden Housler. Freshmen: Tanner Shreffler, Brayden Clyde, Ely Bowers, Lucas Benjamin.
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Sports writers Rich Rhoades and Craig Moyer contributed to this story.