Not much separated the Columbus East and Columbus North girls golfers in last year’s postseason.
The Bull Dogs edged the Olympians by two shots in winning the Greensburg Sectional. The following week, East edged North by two shots for fourth place in the New Castle Regional, as the schools finished just outside of the top three state-qualifying spots.
This year, the Olympians and Bull Dogs figure to again be fairly evenly matched. Both begin their seasons Saturday in the Greensburg Invitational.
“I think we’re going to be a good team,” East coach Troy Buntin said. “We’re definitely at this position where we could have four scores in the 80s, maybe some trickle in the 70s depending on the day.”
North, which won the Conference Indiana title, has the area’s top golfer in two-time The Republic Athlete of the Year for Girls Golf Sydney Anderson. The senior has qualified for state as an individual each of the past two seasons.
“I’m optimistic for our team, but I’m also optimistic for Sydney,” North coach Scott Seavers said. “I think she has all the tools to be an individual state champion, and I know she’s worked awful hard to get to that point. Her other goal is to get her team to the state finals, as well.
“I’m thankful to have her as our captain this year as well,” he said. “She’s been very helpful in mentoring some of our young girls over the summer. She’s a great example for those girls to follow. She’s stepped up as a great leader, and I expect her to continue that this year.”
Anderson’s sister, sophomore Holly Anderson, is the Bull Dogs’ only other returning full-time varsity player. She is coming off a wrist injury that set her back about a month.
“I expect her scores to drop significantly this year,” Seavers said.
Sophomore Aubrey Smith was North’s No. 6 golfer last season. She was the No. 1 singles player on the Bull Dogs’ girls tennis team this spring.
“She’s so athletic and picks things up so quickly,” Seavers said.
Freshman Danbi Kim is in position to make North’s lineup following a solid middle school career.
“She’s very talented,” Seavers said. “She loves golf and is going to be very good.”
Battling for the No. 5 spot are freshman Julia Luken; seniors Rachel Davis, Madison Smith and Madissen Pearson; and sophomore Katelyn Kovach.
The Bull Dogs would have had another returner from its top five, but Morgan Deis moved to France.
“We’re going to miss her,” Seavers said. “She provided a steady force for us last year. That’s definitely my concern and worry. I’m looking forward to seeing other girls step up, and they have the potential to do it.”
East, meanwhile, has three of its top four golfers back in senior twins Abby and Maggie Frazier and junior Rebecca Smith.
“They didn’t play a lot this summer, but it could be a promising year for all three of them,” Buntin said.
Like North, East also had a player move away, with Kaitlyn King moving to Ohio. Sophomore Nicole Bodi split time with King in the No. 5 spot and has improved.
“She worked unbelievably hard in the offseason and has added quite a bit of distance,” Buntin said. “With all the hard work she put in, it could be a promising year for her as well.”
Junior Megan Hashimoto and freshmen Zoe Rangel and Lily Shelp will battle for the No. 5 spot. Rangel spent most of the summer in Mexico, where her father is a golf pro, and Shelp is a former volleyball player who decided to try golf after suffering a knee injury.
“I would like to have some girls push each other,” Buntin said.
The Panthers have a new coach in Kellie (Marshall) Hensley, who played for Jennings County and IUPUI and was an assistant under Angie Klene.
Only one of the top five golfers returns, but that is a big one in No. 1 player Kassi Whitehead. Seniors Scarlett Smith, Monica Ertel, Annie Wall all saw some varsity action.
Freshmen Rachel Greene, Brooklyn Root and Abbey Calhoun are also battling for varsity positions.
The Panthers finished second in the Madison Sectional and 15th in the Roncalli Regional last season.
“I think they have the potential to win sectional,” Hensley said. “It takes that dedication and practice. Our top four, knowing the experience that they have, they should have no problem.”
After having only four girls last year, the Eagles had seven at their first practice on Friday and could have more after school starts today.
Senior Mary Kate McCann was Brown County’s No. 1 golfer last season. Junior Tori Akles is the only other returner.
Junior newcomer Emma Bawinkel has shown promise this summer. Also new to the program are freshmen Jessica Taylor, Lauren Burker, Meghan Cassidy and Kacee Kleindorfer.
The Eagles finished sixth in the Western Indiana Conference and eighth in the Bloomington North Sectional last season.
“I think we’re a little bit ahead of where we’ve been the past two years,” Brown County coach Brad Baughman said. “Their knowledge of the game is a little bit better than it has been previously.”
The Cougars return three golfers from a team that finished second in the Mid-Hoosier Conference and ninth in the Greensburg Sectional.
Sophomore Lydia Wolterman was the team’s No. 1 golfer and tied for medalist honors in the Charger Invitational, which featured the MHC schools. Sophomore Olivia Clarkson senior Breanna Evans played Nos. 2 and 3.
South Decatur has added freshman Shelby Vannatta, whose parents own Wyaloosing Creek, and junior Kyley Caperoon.
“I have a pretty good group of young girls that have some talent,” South Decatur coach Josh Grossman said. “We’re still building and getting some experience to go along with our upperclassmen. I think we have a lot of potential that can be reached, but we’re in a building year right now, with the exception of probably Lydia.”
The Lancers have a team for the first time this season and have seven girls with little to no experience.
Senior Demi Hart and junior Mariah Weddle are the only players with a little golfing experience. Edinburgh coach Doug Weddle said junior Emma Westerfeld has been a pleasant surprise.
Freshman Vanessa McManaway and sophomore Abbie Scrogham could round out the top five.
“It’s going to be a struggle this year,” Weddle said. “We don’t have any girl that’s played in any kind of competition at all. It’s something they’ve been talking about for a long time, so they’re going to give it a try.”
Lakin Davis, who played at South Ripley and St. Francis, takes over the Owls program from Noelle DeHaven, who resigned so she could watch her daughter, Paxton, play college golf.
Not only did Seymour lose Paxton DeHaven, a state qualifier, it lost its entire top five from a team that finished third in the Bedford North Lawrence Sectional and 13th in the Washington Regional. Senior Brittany Trimnell is the only returner who played some varsity last season.
Freshman Bailey Goven will begin the season as the Owls No. 1 golfer. The rest of the lineup will consist of seniors Rachel Jenkins and Abigale Carothers and sophomore Hannah Thompson.
“Definitely, it will be a year of rebuilding since we lost all of the top five,” Davis said. “But we have some incoming freshmen and some younger girls that have the potential to get better.”
Four players, including three of the top five, return for a Cougars team that finished eighth in the BNL Sectional.
Sophomores Macy Taylor and Demi Oakes were Trinity’s No. 2 and 3 golfers. Junior Jessica Fleener was the No. 5 player.
Also back is senior Shelby Nierman, who saw some varsity action.
“All four have showed a significant interest in golf,” Trinity coach Greg Personett said. “They all played over the summer and have improved from last year.”