Golfers from Hall, Princeton and St. Bede will find a new home in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference, joining holdover Bureau Valley. Princeton boys coach Duane Price, who previously coached in the league at Bureau Valley, says it will be a good fit for the Tigers.
“I’m excited to be returning with this group of Princeton golfers. I think the quality of competition and the all-conference scoring system will make us a better team, especially for the postseason,” Price said.
St. Bede coach Rich Cummings said travel will be the biggest hurdle to work through, but said the coaches have meet to help with those concerns, scheduling triangulars to cut down on the travel.
“Some of our trips can be quite lengthy,” he said. “Thank God I’ve got some real good students. Traditionally, our books are always open on the bus.”
Cummings said the competition will be good for the Bruins.
“The schools out there on the West Coast are some solid teams,” he said. “It should help us playing that competition. On the girls side, it will help because there are more teams to play.”
Hall coach Tom Bauer is going to have to rely on his GPS, because he said he doesn’t know where many of these new courses are.
“It’s going to be a new experience for me and the kids,” he said. “It’s hard to judge because we’ve never played some of these teams and courses. I like to talk to the kids about the courses on the way to the matches, but I’m not going to know much about them.”
Matches start up Monday.
Princeton boys: Price admits it’s hard to ignore that the Tigers lost their top three golfers from last season, including BCR Golfer of the Year Hunter Schultz, but they return four with varsity experience. Senior Zach Hicks, juniors Ian Nichols and Miles Rose, and sophomore Derec Roberson were part of a team that won a conference (NCIC) championship and advanced to an IHSA sectional.
“Our team will be relying on their thirst to experience such successes again,” Price said.
Hicks will need to take over the No. 1 spot if the Tigers hope to do well, Price said. He has really worked on his game, in particularly his short game and conservative mental focus, Price said, and has “taken an active leadership role by wanting to improve his teammates.”
The Tigers gain a boost from Colby Robbins, a promising freshman who has had a very successful summer golf season and should make an impact on the varsity level, even as a freshman, Price said.
Other squad members include senior Hunter Rodda, sophomores Hunter Culjan, Alex Heaton, Bryce Nyman and Grant Reed, Seth Torchia and Andrew Wendt and freshmen Josh Eggers, Austin Jamison and Colin Pierson.
Princeton girls: Will Gross couldn’t have asked for a better first season as coach at PHS, his Tigresses went 14-9 advancing to sectional play with a third-place regional finish. The best thing about that season is that all five golfers return and are ready to raise their game.
The PHS fivesome includes junior Sophia Suarez, Sarah Crowe and Julie Miller and sophomores Arraria Hicks and Audra Reidner. They are once again, the only irons in the PHS golf bag.
“We have very high expectations for theáseason and are hoping to build and grow on last year’s success. The girls understand that last year is done and have worked extremely hard this summer and have positioned themselves to make anotherádeep postseasonárun,” Gross said.
“The girls came into day one practice with theáright frame of mind and are focusing on what they want to accomplish and are willing to put the time and effort it takes to succeed at this level. The girls seem to be in midseason form already and have the potential to put up some good numbers on the golf course.”
Suarez, Hicks and Reidner were all BCR First Team selections in 2012. Suarez carried the top scoring average and Hicks was a three-time medalist. Gross said Suarez hasá“a strong dedicationáto lead the teamáinto further success this year.” Hicks, Gross said, “is ready to continue to achieve greatness. She has continued to work and improve on her skills and I can already see the improvements.”
St. Bede boys: The Bruins return two sectional qualifiers in junior Joey Dudek and sophomore Jarrett Olson. The lineup is wide open after that, coach Rich Cummings said.
“All the scores are right on top of each other, so it will be a lot of good competition,” Cummings said. “It will be a nice group to work with,”
Chris Sampson is the only senior on the team. Other varsity candidates include juniors Brady Donahue, Joe Kim, Collin Giordano, Gave Braboy and sophomores Jack Kunkel and Anthony Truckenbrod. Cummings didn’t rule out any of his nine freshman working their way into the mix.
St. Bede girls: Senior Gabbie Mendoza is the undeniable leader of the Lady Bruins pack, playing on sectional teams her first two seasons at the Academy. She welcomes her sister Iko, a freshman, onto the team this year, and Cummings looks for those good golf bloodlines from her.
Other returning players are juniors Sydney Eustice and Taylor Hamer while are Madison Donahue looks for more playing time after an injury-riddled freshman year.
Hall boys: There are 16 boys in the Red Devil camp, the most Bauer has had out in some time. He looks for the Red Devils to be much improved and more competitive.
Senior Pete Mautino returns as the Red Devils ace, an all-conference and state qualifier a year ago. “He played well last year and have even higher expectations out of him this year,” Bauer said.
Senior Nick Scheri and junior Ryan Ott return at the next two spots behind Mautino. Juniors Aaron Mitchell and Zach Vanderpool will vie for the final two spots in the varsity lineup with sophomores Evan Alig and Malcom Bernabei and freshman Matthew Hoscheid, who Bauer describes as a “golf junkie.”
Hall girls: Sophomore Amanda Scheri will have company this year with freshman Hope Goetz. Bauer hopes to get them more matches against other girls this year.