With top returners intact, the prospects are strong for both the Princeton High School boys and girls golf teams.
PHS boys: With four of their top six players returning, including sectional qualifiers Ian Nichols and Colby Robbins, coach Duane Price said the Tigers are hoping to improve on their third place finish in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference.
Nichols enters his senior season having won the Ken Fristad Memorial Golf Tournament this summer at Kewanee’s Baker Park.
“Ian’s scoring average has dropped significantly over the last two years. While he can shoot a low number, it’s his steady short game that usually gives him consistency on the course,” Price said. “He also has a positive attitude on the course, which prevents him from throwing shots away like some other players do. I am sure he will be excited to return to there for the TRAC tournament that leads into the IHSA postseason.”
Price said the sophomore Robbins has continued to refine his game both mechanically and mentally, having a solid freshmen season.
“Knowing he’s worked hard on his game this summer and will be bringing some familiarity to courses on our schedule, our team will rely on his potential throughout the season,” Price said.
This year’s roster includes seniors Trevor Bickett and Miles Rose, juniors Hunter Culjan, Jeremy Hopper, Bryce Nyman, Grant Reed and Seth Torchia, sophomores Josh Eggers, Colton Ervin, Austin Jamison, Colin Pierson and freshmen Conner Alter, Billy Carr, Christian Parry and Dillon Wright.
With many returning faces and a total of 17 golfers on the roster, Price said practices will focus on using competitive, fundamental drills to make each other better.
PHS girls: The Tigresses return their core four golfers from last year’s squad that qualified for sectional for the second year in a row — seniors Sophia Suarez and Sarah Crowe and juniors Arraia Hicks and Audra Reidner.
“We have been together since the start of my coaching era at PHS and have accomplished a lot to this point, with the expectation of more to come this year,” said third-year PHS coach Will Gross. “I believe I have the best young athletes to work with and their desire has been evident in our success to this point in their career and I have no doubt that that will not change this season.”
Gross believes the Tigresses will be competitive in the TRAC again this year, having been conference runners-up last year and will be striving to earn a title. He said they also have high expectations for the postseason and believe “we are ready for the next level.”
Suarez, Gross said, is their undisputed team leader. She was the 2013 BCR Golfer of the Year, averaging 48.0, and sharpened her game playing in the John Deere Classic Pro-Am this summer.
“Sophia has been determined this off season to improve her game and take her and our team to the next level,” he said.
Gross calls Hicks a “rock in our program,” having led PHS in scoring seven times in each of the past two seasons. She carried a 48.8 average last year.
Reidner is a two-time All-BCR First Team selection, having picked up the game her freshmen year. She carried a 49.9 average.
Crowe has improved each season and has an “understanding what she needs to work on to get better and contribute fully to our team’s success,” Gross said.
PHS picked up freshmen Elle McComber this year who is new to the sport, Gross said.
The season starts Tuesday for both squads. The PHS boys will travel to Senica’s Oak Ridge to face host LaSalle-Peru at 4:30 p.m. The PHS girls will tee off at 4 p.m. at Edgewood Golf Course in McNabb against host Putnam County, Dunlap and Henry.
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