By David Fong
TROY — For each of the past four seasons, Troy boys golf coach Mark Evilsizor and his teams have had to watch the Butler golf team hoist the Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division trophy at the end of the season.
This year, the they would like to do something about that.
“We’ve been second to Butler each of the past four years,” Evilsizor said. “A couple of those years, Butler had the better team — there’s no way around it, they were just better than us. But two of those years, we felt like we probably should have beat them. We know we can compete with them, and that’s what we are hoping to do this year. Having finished second to them the past two years, we are hoping that serves as a little extra motivation for us this year.”
Certainly the Trojans have the experience and talent to make a run at the Aviators this season.
Leading the way for Troy is four-year varsity letterwinner Holden Scribner, who has been an All-GWOC American League first team selection each of the past three seasons and won numerous medalist honors for the Trojans at tournaments throughout his career. One of the few accomplishments that has managed to elude Scribner throughout his career, however, is a berth at the Division I state tournament, leaving Scribner hungry for a trip to Columbus.
“He’s definitely looking to try to get to state,” Evilsizor said of Scribner. “He was two strokes away his freshman and sophomore years, then he was a little further away last year. I know it’s something that’s definitely on his radar — it’s something he wants to do and something he has the ability to do. Holden is a pretty determined kid. He definitely plays more rounds of golf than anyone I’ve coached.”
Four seniors will join Scribner in the quest to win the North. Travis Bertram, Zac Collin, Nathan Henderson and Connor Stoltz all have varsity experience, and all four earned conference awards last season. Stoltz was first team All-GWOC American last season, while Bertram and Henderson were second team picks and Collin was named special mention.
“Nathan decided not to play baseball this summer so he could focus on his golf game,” Evilsizor said. “He wants to focus on his consistency this year. He wants to be able to play at a high level all season for us. Connor really gave us some good scores in big tournaments last year. He seemed to perform well when the pressure was on. This year we are hoping he can do that in every match for us.
“Travis and Zac are two guys who are looking to stay strong through the entire season. We feel like all of those guys could average 42 or better throughout the season. We feel like that’s a good goal and something that is realistic. If we can get six guys who all shoot 42 or better the entire season, we are going to finish the year with a pretty good record.”
Joining those five seniors on the varsity will be sophomore Ryan Dowling and freshman Henry Johnston.
“Ryan Dowling is one kid who caught my eye as a freshman; he played in almost double-digit varsity matches for us last year,” Evilsizor said. “He doesn’t do anything fancy and doesn’t hit the ball a long way, but when all is said and done, his scores are always solid. I love his demeanor and the way he handled himself on the course.
“Henry has some good days and some bad days, which is what you would expect out of a freshman. He is capable of competing at a high level. We’ll look for him to get more consistent as the year goes on.”
All told, Evilsizor likes the position his team is in this season and where the program is in general.
“We are really fortunate here at Troy,” he said. “I talk to a lot of other coaches and I feel like I’m in a really good spot. We don’t have to force kids to play at Troy. We have a lot of kids who want to play golf and who have fun playing golf. We’ve got a group of kids who are motivated to play.
“We also feel great about what’s going on at Miami Shores (Golf Course) with all the improvements they are making over there. Them putting in a driving range is only going to make us better. We are in a great situation.”
Last season, the Milton-Union Bulldogs sat in first place in the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division before faltering in the league tournament. This year, the team will be looking to build on its core group of returners and remain in the division’s upper echelon.
Back for the Bulldogs is junior Justin Brown, who was third team All-SWBL last season, as well as seniors Nick Brumbaugh and Josh Strader and sophomore Max Grafflin. Sophomore Sam Case will also make the move up from JV, and junior Andrew Stamper will add depth to the roster.
“Last year, we won the regular season title before falling in the tournament,” said Milton-Union coach Brett Barnes, who is entering his third year with the team. “We have three consistent scorers, so we are looking for No. 4 through 6 to improve quickly. I think we can be in the top three teams in the SWBL Buckeye Division and, if we see improvement, have a chance to win.”
The Newton Indians had a big 2017 season — winning a sectional title and finishing fifth at the district tournament as a team — and with the vast majority of the lineup returning from that team, the Indians will be looking to take the next step and reach the state tournament.
Chet Jamison is back to lead the team after taking sectional medalist honors and finishing 18th individually at the district level. Also returning this season are Garrett Peters, Nate Zielinski, Ross Ferrell, Ryan Millette, Kleyson Wehrley and Mitchell Montgomery, with Enon Weaver, Lane Bayer and Chandler Peters joining the team — for which eighth-year coach Randall Jamison has set a goal to win the Cross County Conference title and to qualify for state as a team.
* Miami East
The Vikings had high expectations last season, only to fall victim to things out of the team’s control heading into the postseason. This year will be no different for Miami East heading into the season, and the team has the returners to reach those expectations.
Sam Zapadaka, Cooper Elleman, Keegan Mahaney, Tyler Fetter and Andy Bevan all return to the roster this season and will be joined by freshman Noah King.
“We expect to win the league,” said Miami East coach Terry Henley as he enters his fifth season with the team. “I said the same thing last year, but my No. 3 man caught the flu going into the league and sectional tournament and my No. 5 player wrenched his back. You can’t win losing two senior starters, especially playing up in the Division II sectional.
“Our goal is to reach the state tournament. It is realistic considering that we have several players that have dropped scores by four or five strokes, and sophomore Sam Zapadaka has posted a 30 on two different courses. All I can do is pray for no illnesses or injuries.”
The Covington boys golf team lost last year’s runner-up in the Cross County Conference Player of the Year race in graduate Andrew Slusher, and Buccaneer coach Bill Wise is hoping to keep the program moving toward the future as he enters his 12th season with the team.
Seniors Hunter Alexander, Jack Shell and Thomas Kuether, junior Dylan Lucas and sophomores Grant Humphrey and Job Morgan all return to the Buccaneer lineup this season — one that includes a big group of incoming freshmen.
“It will be hard to replace Slusher, but hopefully the upperclassmen can step up and give us some low scores,” Wise said. “We expect to finish near the middle of the pack this season, but with six incoming freshmen and a couple strong sophomores, the future is looking good.”
Even following the graduation of key players Tyler Lachey and Ryan Schmidt, the Lehman Cavaliers are looking to again win the Northwest Central Conference title.
Senior Cole Gilardi, juniors Brandyn Sever and Mikey Rossman and sophomore Alex Keller all return to the Cavs’ lineup, while sophomore Reid Thomas joins the roster.
“We hope to win the NWCC again this year,” said fourth-year coach Eric Harlamert. “However, it will be difficult because we lost two really key golfers. But we have some energetic hopefuls coming up, and maybe we can win enough matches.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong