Graduation always is something that hurts high school sports teams, and that certainly is the case when it comes to boys golf team both in the Tri-County Area and throughout the smaller schools in District 9.

In Class 2A, only four of the Top 11 finishers at last year’s D-9 Championships are back.

St. Marys senior Lucas Benjamin is one of those three, having placed third last year with a two-day scored of 152 to advance to the PIAA Championships. No East or West Regionals were held a year ago because of COVID-19/

Kane seniors Curt Barner and Max Bizzak are also among that small group of returnees, as both also went to states (Top 5 finishers)

Barner won the D-9 title last year by one shot over the now-graduated Mark Kraus of Elk County Catholic (150-151) and two shots over Benjamin. Bizzak placed fourth with a 156.

The only other golfer back who finished in the Top 11 is Coudersport senior Brady Streich, who was 11th as a junior with a 172.

Over in Class 3A, two-time defending District 9 champ Spencer Cornelius, now a senior, is back in search of a third straight title, while DuBois is the reigning team champion, having won its first D-9 team crown since 1998 a year ago.

Unlike a lot of schools, DuBois returns all four players who helped win that team title — senior Cody Jaconski, junior Gavin Kaschalk and sophomores Tyson Kennis and Brock Smith. Jaconski collected a runner-up finish to Cornelius at districts, while Kaschalk was second to the Owl at the District 8/9 subregional tournament, both if which were played at Bavarian Hills in St. Marys.

This year’s two-day District 9 Boys Golf Championships will be held at Bradford’s Pennhills Golf Course on Sept. 27 and Oct. 2.

Here is a closer look at the teams in the Tri-County Area whose coaches returned information:

BROCKWAY

To say the Brockway boys golf team has a new look this year might be an understatement.

For starters, the Rovers have a new head coach in Josh Inzana, who takes over the program from long-time coach Ray Carlson, who stepped away after last season.

The new look doesn’t stop there though, as Inzana has the Rovers’ largest roster in more than a decade to work with. That number is 12 to be exact and features a nice mix of veterans and new players who can not only help the squad this year but in the future.

Leading the way is a trio of senior returnees in Dylan Coder, Carter Nichols and Daniel Shugarts. After those three, Inzana had seven sophomores and two freshmen on the roster That depth is something that hasn’t always been there for the Rovers in recent years.

“I am excited about this season,” said Inzana. “We have three seniors who will be battling for the top few spots. We also have a nice group of younger players who are excited to be part of the team and are eager to learn.

“I am happy to have a full roster that if we need to make changes and rotate in and out, we can do that. I think that it will give them a little bit of competition within the team rather than knowing we have a set six who will automatically be traveling to every match.”

Brockway opens the season Tuesday with a home match against DuBois.

Roster

Seniors: Dylan Coder, Carter Nichols, Daniel Shugarts. Sophomores: Kaden Coulter, Isaac Crawford, Logan Faith, Troy Johnson, Jacob Newcamp, Weston Pisarchick, Chad Young. Freshmen: Ryan Crawford, Parker Pisarchick.

BROOKVILLE

Head coach Ben Pete heads into his 19th season with a roster that lost one regular to graduation and returns both of its postseason entries in senior Ian Pete and sophomore Killian Radel.

Neither made the first-round cut with Radel shooting a 95 and Pete a 99, so they’ll anchor a roster that might have some decent scoring depth with other seniors Owen Caylor, Bryce Rafferty, Jamison Rhoades, Kolton Lyons and Patrick Diedrich, junior Logan Girt, and sophomore Burke Fleming. The newcomers are freshmen Connor Smith and Will Shofestall.

“With 11 guys and one is new to the sport, we have 10 guys who could legitimately vie for a varsity spot,” Pete said. “I really believe that the fourth through six spots, or six people can fluctuate in and out of the lineup.”

Matches consist of six players and taking the top four scores for the team score.

“If we can get four scores in the 40s or around 45 and average a 180 for a nine-hole match, not a lot of teams are going to do that this year I think, so we can be competitive,” said Pete, whose team finished 5-6 in dual matches last year. “I’m pleased with the experience the team has and I hope it just carries over to the matches we have because I know they can do it.”

Radel and Pete lead the group with the rest of the group not that far behind.

“I didn’t play any golf with Killian this summer, but Ian has played quite a bit and I still don’t think they’ve played their best,” Pete said. “Bryce was decimal points away from those guys last year, so they are probably the top three going in. Owen played a lot last year and Jamison has improved tremendously and we have Logan ad Patrick, and I’m not sure about them, but looking at them after (first practice), it’s hopeful.”

Roster

Seniors: Ian Pete, Owen Caylor, Jamison Rhoades, Bryce Rafferty, Kolton Lyons, Patrick Diedrich. Junior: Logan Girt. Sophomores: Burke Fleming, Killian Radel. Freshmen: Connor Smith, Will Shofestall.

C-L

The strong duo of Hayden Siegel, the 2019 D9 champion, and Hayden Callen are gone with graduation, leaving head coach Jason Craig to rebuild. He’ll have some players back who contributed to last year’s runner-up finish in the KSAC with senior Brady Fowkes and freshman Nick Aaron.

Aaron shot a 94 while Fowkes carded a 120. The Lions shot a 370, finishing behind Coudersport (348), Ridgway (354) and Kane (356).

Those two along with junior Jordan Hesdon likely make up the leading three players in his lineup. Sophomores Jack Craig and Kaden Ferguson are back from last year while senior Braden Smith returns after playing as a freshman. First-year junior Riley Klingensmith has promise as well, Craig says.

“I think we could have four kids in the 40s or low 40s, and that’s pretty good,” said Craig, who has some untested and unknown talent on his roster that’ll sort itself out.

Roster

Seniors: Brady Fowkes, Braden Smith, Michael Snyder. Juniors: Jordan Hesdon, Riley Klingensmith. Sophomores: Nick Aaron, Jack Craig, Kaden Ferguson, Colton Kiehl. Freshmen: Casey Love, Jack Monnoyer.

DuBOIS

With its top four golfers back from a year ago in Jaconski, Kaschalk, Kennis and Smith, and a deep roster behind that quartet, Beavers coach Luke Bundy is excited about what 2021 might have in store for his squad.

“I am looking forward to a very successful year,” said Bundy. “We are returning all four of our top golfers from the 2020 District championship team. Gavin, Tyson, Cody and Brock all could be our No. 1 golfer, they are that close. They also bring great leadership and set a great example for the other golfers to follow.”

Kennis finished second at D-9 Class 3A Championships, posting an 82 to finish six shots behind Bradford’s Cornelius. Jaconski (92) and Kaschalk (96) also competed individually at districts as well as helping the Beavers win their first district team title since 1998.

Kaschalk turned around and shot DuBois’ best score (87) at the District 8/9 Class 3A subregional tournament to finish second to Cornelius. Jaconski was third in that event with an 88, while Kennis was fifth with a 97.

While those four look to anchor the DuBois lineup, there is a heated battle behind them for the fifth and sixth spots in the starting order. Seniors John Miller, Chooch Husted and Alex Pasternak are in the mix for those two spots along with junior Landon Gustafson.

“The real competition for the team will be for the No. 5 and No. 6 spots,” said Bundy. “Landon Gustafson has elevated his game this year. “Chooch” Husted, Alex Pasternak and John Miller are also right there in the mix. They give our team great depth, and the ability to mix and match golfers depending on who is hot and who might be in a slump. Our depth gives us a decided advantage over most teams we will face.”

Bundy also is excited about his group freshmen — Daniel Chichava, Algie LaBrasca, John Malizia and Nick Volpe — and what they can provide the team moving forward.

“With having such a great team, that gives them the time to work on their game and not be thrown right into the fire as a freshman,” said Bundy.

DuBois opens its season Tuesday at Brockway.

Roster

Seniors: Landon Gustafson, Creighton “Chooch” Husted, Cody Jaconski, John Miller, Alex Pasternak. Juniors: Gavin Kaschalk. Sophomores: Tyson Kennis, Brock Smith. Freshmen: Daniel Chichava, Algie LaBrasca, John Malizia, Nick Volpe.

DuBOIS CENTRAL

CATHOLIC

You will certainly be served on the DCC golf team this year as eight of the 10 players on head coach Mike Gralla’s roster are freshmen.

All that youth bodes well for the program’s future, but that doesn’t mean Gralla and his coaching staff have given up hope of enjoying success this year.

To do so, Gralla will lean heavily on his two returning veterans — juniors Nick Colbey and Brenden Paisley — to lead the way. There are no seniors or sophomores on the team.

“Both will be at the top of the lineup each week,” said Gralla of Colbey and Paisley. “We also have eight freshmen coming up, and among that group, Aiden Snowberger, Tristan Sedor and Trent Miller will carry the 3-5 spots consistently.

“The rest of the freshmen will constantly be competing for that sixth and final spot during varsity matches. Those kids include Jack Roy, Peyton Suplizio, Andrew Reiter, Mitchell Klark and Kyan Peck. Three are also soccer players, so it is nice having the other consistent kids in the lineup.

“I am very excited to have so many freshman that will help build the program for the years to come.”

Gralla also is excited to have Max Hrinya and Evan Snowberger on board as assistant coaches this year.

“Max is a high school math teacher at the school, so having him to keep the kids in line on the academic side is great,” said Gralla. “And, Evan is very good with the kids, experienced in golf and also helps coach baseball here at DCC. Having them on board is a huge help and great for the kids.”

Snowberger was the manager of the DuBois Senior League All-Star baseball team that won the state title this summer.

The Cardinals open the season Monday at home against Curwensville.

Roster

Juniors: Nick Colbey, Brenden Paisley. Freshmen: Mitchell Klark, Trent Miller, Kyan Peck, Andrew Reiter, Jack Roy, Tristan Sedor, Aiden Snowberger, Peyton Suplizio

PUNXSUTAWNEY

Change is in the air so to speak when it comes to Punxsutaney Chucks in 2021. Jason Jacobson has taken over as head coach and has a roster that lost its two district competitors from a year ago — Jackson Craft and John Crago — but welcomes back some players with varsity experience.

And, that experience is spread out as Jacobson’s 10-man roster has at least two players in each grade, with Alexander Shumaker being the long freshman.

“Donnie Neese (senior), Kyle Nesbitt (senior), Sawyer Hall (sophomore) and Jake Sikora (junior) all saw some varsity action last year, and I’m hoping those guys can build off that experience and play with confidence,” said Jacobson. “Jimmie Neese (sophomore), Kyle Poling (junior), Logan Smelko (senior) and Joel Mehalic (junior) are also all returning from last year.”

Sophomore Dysen Gould joins Shumaker as being a varsity newcomer.

“We really don’t have a dominant golfer on our roster this year, and I’m okay with that,” said Jacobson. “We have several guys who have the potential to post some consistent scores, and I’m excited to watch all these guys compete and battle for the varsity spots.

“As a team, our goal is to be competitive every time we step on the course.”

Jacobson and the Chucks will have the opportunity to do that for the first time Monday at the Bavarian Invitational at Bavarian Hills Golf Course in St. Marys.

Roster

Seniors: Donald Neese, Kyle Nesbitt, Logan Smelko. Juniors: Joel Mehalic, Kyle Poling, Jake Sikora. Sophomores: Dysen Gould, Sawyer Hall, James Neese. Freshman: Alexander Shumaker.

RIDGWAY

The Elkers lost their top player from a year ago, Eric Christoff, to graduation along with two others, but veteran coach Eric Herzing does welcome back half of his starting team from districts.

That duo — senior Collin Porter and junior Kole Asti — will start the year as the team’s No. 1 and 2 players and be called upon to be leaders of a team that has three other returning lettermen but otherwise will be relatively young when it comes to varsity experience. Porter and Caden Smiley are the lone seniors on the team.

Porter tied for 17th last year at districts, shooting a 90 on the opening day of district play. Asti also carded a 90 as he and Porter teamed up with the departed Christoff and Fitch to help Ridgway finish second in the team standings at the D-9 Championships.

Filling out out the starting lineup behind that duo in spots 3-6 are junior Logan Jordan, sophomore Eric Gustafson, junior Eric Gustafson and junior Wyatt Shaffer. All four of those players were on the roster last season.

“We are excited about the season,” said Herzing. “We have another year of experience and return five (returning) letterwinners. Most of these guys played some summer tournaments and should be ready to roll.

“I think 1 through 3 will be a solid base that’s competitive in all our events. But, we will need the Gustafson boys and Shaffer to keep working and hopefully throw in some solid scores to have any kind of success this fall.”

Ridgway opens its season Monday at the Bavarian Invitational and Bavarian Hills Golf Course in St. Marys.

Roster

Seniors: Collin Porter, Cadem Smiley. Juniors: Kole Asti, Brent DeFranco, Alec DeVallance, Eric Gustafson, Logan Jordan, Wyatt Shaffer. Sophomores: Evan Gustafson, Ethan Streich

ST. MARYS

The Flying Dutchmen return with a veteran squad that head coach Bob Bauer feels should be quite competitive.

Senior Lucas Benjamin was a district and state qualifier last season, as fellow senior Cole Cousins also went to districts.

“The returning junior and senior class all saw significant playing time last year,” Bauer said.

That lineup also includes senior Brayden Clyde and juniors Sam Allegretto, Sam Bowes, Vincent Lenze, Elias Nedimyer and Ethan Schlimm.

Nine more golfers compile of the sophomore and freshmen classes with five and four, respectively. Bauer also said they’ll be looking to rely on the younger players.

“We have great depth this year and there will be competition each week for our final three positions,” Bauer said. “I am so happy to have a good group of underclassmen that are developing their skills to the point that they should see some playing time this season. I want to continue to improve the skills of these younger players so that they can take over next year.”

With the team’s depth, Bauer said he’d like to see players qualify for districts this year, but also would like to see them make it as a team.

“I expect that we will have an enjoyable season, both in competition and as a team,” Bauer said.

Seniors: Lucas Benjamin, Brayden Clyde and Cole Cousins. Juniors: Sam Allegretto, Sam Bowes, Vincent Lenze, Elias Nedimyer and Ethan Schlimm. Sophomores: Patrick Blessel, Anthony Nedzinski, Ben Porkolab and Brody Stauffer. Freshmen: Aiden Beimel, Alex Clark, Dominic Curtis and Joey Lease.

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Sports Writers Rich Rhoades and Tyler Kolesar contributed to this story.

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