Golf season kicked off for local teams on Monday, with many having two to three other matches scheduled the first week of the season.
Youth will be served as many programs will feature sophomore and freshmen players in their rotations.
Elk Lake returns with their girls’ team looking to defend its District II title and advance further in the state playoffs and a Boys team that features one of the top individual players in the area in senior Jason Mowry
Regional Player of the Year Chloe Sipe and a healthy Taegan Mills lead the Lady Warriors.
After being the high local player at last year’s Girls Jackman Memorial Tournament Mills endured a painful season as an undiagnosed Chiari 1.5 malformation caused excruciating headaches.
The condition exists when brain tissue extends into the spinal canal. After surgery in April, Mills was able to resume working on her game in June.
Mills and Sipe are joined by junior Payton LaRue and sophomores Jenna Daye, Reese Warriner and newcomer Lily Decker.
While expectations are high for the Lady Warriors, Elk Lake Coach Ryan Kipar doesn’t see the pressure of those expectations affecting the young team.
“I think the girls want the pressure,” said Kipar.
On the boys side Mowry is joined by Juniors Colby Baker and Zach Shields, Sophomore Nate Warriner, and Freshman Josh McIntyre.
“This team has worked pretty hard all summer and winter to be where we are at,” said Kipar.
With an influx of players, Montrose will also field a boys and girls squad this season.
However, that influx is young and Montrose Coach Mike Zuba knows his boys’ team will be hard pressed against the more experienced squads in the division.
“We’re very young, having just one senior, one sophomore, and four freshmen,” said Zuba. “It’s going to be a learning process.”
Senior Jared Corson leads the boys’ team and is joined by sophomore AJ Dovin, and freshmen Kainda Corson, Cole Jones, Thomas Stewart, and Alex Warriner.
While the girls’ team is in its first year the team is comprised of four seniors Annalise Ely, Caroline Stack, Shannon Stewart, and Theresa Vaccaro who will be joined by sophomore Alesis Hawley.
“It will be interesting to see how we stack up with the other girls’ programs,” said Zuba.
Like his contemporaries, Brion Stone leads fields a team long on youth and short on experience.
Senior Kris Boswell and juniors Ben DeMark and Jonathan Johnson return and will be complemented by sophomore newcomer Robert Hertzog and freshmen Gavin Bewley, Alex Empet, Jack Kowalewski, Charles Mordent, and Spencer Sabine.
Coach Art McLain’s Foresters head into the season with a squad that has endured growing pains the past two seasons with younger players.
Junior Henry Nebzydoski is joined by fellow juniors Chris Burris and Abby and Robert Swegel.
Joining the veterans will be Sophomores Aaron Lee and John Lesjack along with Freshmen Paul Debish, DJ Heath, Hunter Langman, and Ben Shea.
While experience is an issue with many of the county programs, Blue Ridge Coach Steve Galloway has the luxury of an experienced group.
Led by senior Tyler Hillard, the coach hopes that his team can surprise some teams in league play.
Galloway praised the commitment of his squad to working on their game during the offseason and sees Hillard making great strides.
“He’s become more consistent,” said Galloway. “In the past he’d have one or two poor tee shots.”
“He’s just maturing and just hits a lot of quality shots,” added Galloway.
Hillard will be joined by juniors Preston Perry, Andrew Scott, and Kyle Spoor along with freshmen James Barbour and Tieler Stilloe.
“Scott and Spoor are much improved from a year ago,” observed Galloway. “And Perry is gaining experience.”