The Columbus North boys golfers reached the pinnacle last season when they won their first state championship in North history.
The bad news for the Bull Dogs — and the good news for their rivals — is that they lost all five regulars from that squad. Four of those, including state co-medalists Christian Fairbanks and Michael VanDeventer, are now playing college golf.
“This will be a fun year,” North coach Doug Bieker said. “I’m excited about what the kids that are returning can do. Certainly, it will be a learning process, but I really do think that these kids are very capable. They just have to learn how to score and how to play tournament golf at a high level.”
Six players who played in some varsity matches last season are battling for the five varsity positions. Seniors Kyung Kim, Connor Opalka and Conner Hayes and sophomores Bryce Turner, Matt Vorndran and Spencer Fairbanks all have tournament experience.
“As we’ve learned over the last four years, it’s not easy to win a state championship, but you just never know,” Bieker said. “You never know how hard the kids are going to work. I think this group has a good work ethic, and I’m expecting good things from them.”
Senior Devin Abendroth, sophomore Zac Schiavello and juniors Jared Imlay and Zach Whisman also will battle for varsity spots.
“I would expect those guys to compete as we go throughout this year,” Bieker said.
While the Bull Dogs lost their top five golfers, the Olympians return all of their top five and will look to supplant North for area supremacy.
Senior Adam Krebs was a state qualifier as a sophomore and missed by only one shot last year. Seniors Chris Jurrema and Zach Sutton and junior Austin Proffitt all are entering their third or fourth years as varsity players.
Junior Will Mayhew and sophomore Derek Alexander shared the No. 5 spot last season. Sophomore Thomas Ruch played in one varsity tournament.
“We’re seeing improvements every night,” East coach Tom LaBarbera said. The backbone of our team is going to be our three seniors. They’re the most consistent players.”
The Olympians finished fourth in the Hoosier Hills Conference last season and were eighth in the Providence Regional with a 318. The top three in the regional qualify for state.
“That’s certainly our goal,” LaBarbera said. “Those seniors, their goal is to make it as a team out of regional. But we have a difficult regional, and typically you’re going to have to shoot around 303 to get out. We have to find 15 strokes.”
Senior Nick Bridgewater, who will play golf and basketball at Cincinnati Christian, returns to lead the Crusaders.
Senior Austin Straub, who played No. 2 for Columbus Christian, and senior Chris Noblitt also return to the lineup. Seniors Andrew Foster and Parker Hilliard played some varsity last season.
Also vying for spots in the top five are sophomore Nathan Haynes, who saw a little varsity action, and senior Jacob Day, who is back after taking last year off.
“I’ve already seen some improvement, even though we’ve only been out a few times,” Columbus Christian coach Ron Bridgewater said. “Just learning course management and that sort of thing, they should shave a few strokes. We’re going to be a much-improved team this year.”
The Jets lost four of their top six golfers, but return senior Jack Washburn, who played No. 1 last season. Washburn finished third in the Mid-Hoosier Conference to lead Hauser to a fifth-place team finish.
Senior Wyatt Whittington, played in the sectional as a sophomore and played some varsity last year. Juniors Aaron Sweet, Chase Conner and Travis Stafford played a little varsity.
Sophomore Clayton Wilson and freshmen Justin Compton and Mason Sherman will also battle for varsity spots.
“We’re going to be young and inexperienced, but I really like the makeup of our team,” Hauser coach Clarke Chafin said. “Our freshman group, I’m really excited about. They work at it, and by the end of the year, we’re going to be a different team than at the beginning.”
The Panthers will look to improve on a seventh-place finish in the HHC with its entire top five coming back.
Junior Bailey Wilder, who was the team’s No. 4 golfer last year, has been the leader in practice so far, followed by last year’s top two golfers, juniors Jake Simmons and Ian Donnell. Senior Lane Sawyer and junior Garrett Day also return.
Pushing those five for varsity spots are freshmen Austin Roscoe, Luke White and Justin Gasper.
“The freshmen are coming on strong,” Jennings coach Gary Yeager said. “They’re right on the verge. I think there’s a lot of competition in the 5 through 9 spots.”
The Eagles have a little experience coming back after finishing fifth in the Western Indiana Conference.
Junior Aubrey Seaman was the team’s No. 1 player last season. Juniors Jake Dixon, Gavin Brown and Wes Weigel and senior Matt Wright played a lot of varsity.
“I think we’ll be better than we were last year,” Brown County coach Brad Baughman said. “It’s nice to have (five) guys that have some experience. We’re looking at those guys to be strong for us.”
The Cougars won the MHC title last season and return four of their top six.
Seniors Nick Schwering and Brayden Helms and junior Cory Hastings were in South Decatur’s top five, while senior Seth Niese was the No. 6 golfer. Junior Kyle Carter and sophomores Jake Johnson and Logan Owens and freshman Jake Vannatta are battling for No. 5 spot.
“I definitely think we are probably the favorite right now going in, especially with three returning and a fourth one that can put up solid scores,” South Decatur coach Josh Grossman said. “I have the possibility of getting a fifth score in there as kind of a safety net if one of our top four doesn’t play well on a given day.”
The Lancers lost three golfers from a team that finished seventh in the MHC but picked up an exchange student from Germany, Leon Kemper.
Junior Zach and Kyle Pendleton also return. Senior Matt Heagy, who is out for golf for the first time since his freshman year at Triton Central, and junior Connor Goddard and senior Adam Barker, who played some varsity, are batting for the No. 4 and No. 5 spots.
“I’m pretty excited about this year,” Edinburgh coach Doug Weddle said. “The boys seem excited about playing. They seem like they’re wanting to really work at it. I think it’s going to be a fun year.”
The Owls have a new coach in Jim Hoffman, who has coached basketball at Immanuel Lutheran for 14 years.
Junior Brady Marshall, senior Ethan Ashley and sophomore Blake Furlow return to the lineup from a team that finished sixth in the HHC. They will be joined by freshmen Keaton Simpson and Tyler Bullard.
“We’re really young this year,” Hoffman said. “We have a couple of freshmen that I think are going to be really good. We’re excited.”
The Cougars will be experienced, with four of their top five golfers coming back.
Senior Parker Criswell was the team’s No. 1 player, while senior Clayton Pottschmidt and sophomores Cory and Chad Stuckwisch also return. Sophomores Skylar Stahl and Drew Royalty played some varsity.
Clayton Terry, who was the No. 2 golfer last year, is injured and cannot play this season but will be a manager.
“Our team is really shaping up,” Trinity coach Greg Personett said. “We’re going to have a good team this year. Our kids have been practicing hard, and they’re looking good.”
2015 boys golf schedules for Bartholomew County schools:
Saturday;at Seymour Invitational;9 a.m.
April 11;at Floyd Central Invitational;2 p.m.
April 13;at Shelbyville;4:45 p.m.
April 18;at Jennings County Tournament;9 a.m.
April 21;Jennings County;4:30 p.m.
May 2;at Bedford North Lawrence;8:30 a.m.
May 4;at Seymour;5 p.m.
May 7;Columbus North;4 p.m.
May 9;at Bloomington North Invitational;10 a.m.
May 11;at Madison;4:30 p.m.
May 19;at New Albany;4:30 p.m.
May 20;Jeffersonville;4:45 p.m.
May 21;at Batesville;5 p.m.
May 27;Bloomington North;4:45 p.m.
May 28;at Columbus North;4 p.m.
May 29;at Greensburg;4 p.m.
May 30;at Providence Invitational;1 p.m.
Saturday;at Seymour Invitational;9 a.m.
April 11;Hall of Fame Classic at Peru;10 a.m.
April 16;Franklin Central;4:30 p.m.
April 18;at Warsaw Invitational;11 a.m.
April 25;at Noblesville Invitational;11 a.m.
May 2;at Bedford North Lawrence Invitational;8:30 a.m.
May 4;Bloomington North;4 p.m.
May 7;at Columbus East;4 p.m.
May 9;Spring Preview at Prairie View;1 p.m.
May 11;at Shelbyville (with New Palestine);4:30 p.m.
May 12;Bloomington South;4 p.m.
May 16;at Zionsville Sollman Invitational;8:30 a.m.
May 18;Conference Indiana;10 a.m.
May 26;at Greensburg;4 p.m.
May 28;Columbus East;4 p.m.
May 30;at Providence Invitational;1 p.m.
June 3;at Shelbyville Invitational;8 a.m.
Tuesday;at Greenwood Christian;5 p.m.
Thursday;at Madison Shawe;4:30 p.m.
April 14;at Rock Creek Academy;4:30 p.m.
April 23;at Crothersville;4:30 p.m.
April 27;at Hauser;4:30 p.m.
April 28;Rock Creek, Southside Christian;4:30 p.m.
April 30;Fortune Academy;4:30 p.m.
May 4;at Bloomington Lighthouse;4:30 p.m.
May 5;Morristown, Southside Christian;4:30 p.m.
May 9;Hauser Invitational;8 a.m.
May 13;South Decatur;4:30 p.m.
May 19;Southwestern (Shelby);5 p.m.
May 26;Edinburgh;4:30 p.m.
Thursday;Brown County;4:30 p.m.
April 16;at Waldron;4 p.m.
April 20;Edinburgh;4:30 p.m.
April 23;at Batesville (with North Decatur);4:30 p.m.
April 27;Columbus Christian;4:30 p.m.
April 29;at Columbus North;4 p.m.
May 4;Southwestern (Shelby);4:30 p.m.
May 5;Trinity Lutheran;4:30 p.m.
May 9;Hauser Invitational;9 a.m.
May 11;Edinburgh, North Decatur;4:30 p.m.
May 13;at Brown County;4:30 p.m.
May 16;MHC at North Decatur;8 a.m.
May 21;South Decatur, Morristown;4:30 p.m.
May 27;at Indian Creek;4:30 p.m.