Area golfers eager to begin play

 

Herald File Photos / Jack Bies is one of the returning golfers for the Jasper Wildcats, who enter this season as the defending sectional and Big Eight conference champs. Bies has already committed to playing golf collegiately at Northern Kentucky University.

By JONATHAN SAXON

jsaxon@dcherald.com

 

Now that spring is here, it means that it's once again time for golfers to hit the links. Here's a preview of what to expect from the Jasper, Southridge, Forest Park and Heritage Hills boys golf teams. 

Jasper Wildcats

Last Season: Finished first overall in Big Eight conference and sectional, finished eighth overall at regional.

Opening Match: Seymour Golf Invite at Seymour High School, March 30.

Returning Golfers: Jack Bies (Sr.), Landon Kissel (Jr.), Avery Hollinden (Jr.), Patrick Harmon (Jr.), Reece Day (Jr.), Nick Buechlein (So.), Will Messmer (So.), Zach Broeker (So.).

Key Newcomers: Jordan Krempp (Fr.)

Notable: Jasper was able to experience a lot of success on the links and will come into this season as the defending conference and sectional champions. However, the guys are well aware that they can’t just rest on their laurels if they hope to move forward. Second-year coach Caleb Begle says that constant improvement will be the name of the game as the Wildcats look to not only repeat conference and sectional feats, but also move some golfers past the regional match to a state appearance. Begle said the guys are hard workers and know what it takes to play their best games on the golf course, but only a season of play can answer a lot of the questions about how successful the Wildcats can be. Their main focus as a team rest in being the smarter golfers on the course and using course awareness to give themselves good shots from tee to green.

Senior Jack Bies, who has committed to play collegiate golf at Northern Kentucky University, emerged as one of the most consistent players for the Wildcats last spring and will be the teams’ number one going into this season. Juniors Landon Kissel and Avery Hollinden will fit into the second and third spot in the team’s lineup and provide. The four and five spots are open to competition; sophomores Nick Buechlein and Zach Broeker used the opportunities they got last season to show they could be reliable contributors to this season’s varsity team. But freshman Jordan Krempp has also showed signs of a solid golf pedigree in the early qualifying period and can challenge for one of the varsity’s final spots.

Quotable: “If we continue to work hard and play with the right attitude and mindset, you just never know,” said Begle. “I compare (golf) a lot to other sports; you’re not being guarded by somebody that can shut you down, you’re playing against yourself and the course. On any given day someone can go out and shoot a good score. Our mindset is do the best you can do to help the team. That’s our goal.”

Southridge's Michael Kappner lined up his shot in last year's match against Jasper. The Raiders return all five golfers that competed in last year's sectional tournament and also have several other talented athletes on the roster.

Southridge Raiders

Last Season: Finished seventh in sectional, Coby Reller went to regionals.

Opening Match: vs. Tecumseh, Perry Central at Boonville Country Club, April 4.

Returning Golfers: Tristan Boerner (Sr.), Michael Kappner (Sr.), Carson Mundy (Sr.), Christian Geesaman (Jr.), Owen Kinker (Jr.), Coby Reller (Jr.), Aidan Blessinger (So.).

Key Newcomers: Eli Buse (Fr.), Luke Trout (Fr.).

Notable: Southridge is looking to take the next step forward as the Raiders will have the benefit of returning all five golfers who competed in last season’s sectional match at Sultan’s Run. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that those same five will be the ones representing Southridge again, as their coach Brock Matthews said that most of the varsity lineup is open to variation throughout the season. Everyone is chasing the collective objective of making it to regional as a team this season, and Matthews has seen the Raiders’ ball striking improve as they’ve been working in the offseason to manifest their goals.

Junior Coby Reller will likely retake his spot as the team’s number one. Michael Kappner, Tristan Boerner, Owen Kinker, and Carson Mundy are the four golfers who will be bringing back varsity experience for the team. Aidan Blessinger has been noted for posting some solid scores in the early going of the season, and freshmen Elie Buse and Luke Trout will be bringing their previous experience in the Dubois County junior golf league to the fold as well.

Quotable: "I think we’re fully capable with the guys we have to qualify the team for regional,” said Matthews. “It’s going to take a strong performance from us, but we have the pieces. It’s just a matter of keeping that goal in mind and performing throughout the year.”

Forest Park's Colin Lane fired a shot during last year's sectional meet. Ranger head coach Chris Tretter is very excited about this year's team as Forest Park brings back it's entire squad as the Rangers had no seniors last season.

Forest Park Rangers

Last Season: Finished sixth overall in sectional.

Opening Match: vs. Washington, April 4.

Returning Golfers: Cade Prechtel (Sr.), Colin Lane (Sr.), Jake Rickelman (Sr.), Keenan Bertges (Sr.), Nathan Hamilton (Sr.), Jacob Berg (Jr.), Nolan Brames (Jr.), Tanner Berg (Jr.), Gavin Edele (So.), Tyler Haug (So.).

Key Newcomers: Cooper Uebelhor (Fr.), Brant Tretter (Fr.), Jacob Bettag (Fr.).

Notable: Last season was one of growth and learning for Forest Park, as they went forward with a golf team that only had Colin Lane with previous varsity experience. But Rangers coach Chris Tretter believes the boys can take what they learned and use that as springboard to get themselves back not only into conference and sectional title contention, but perhaps another regional berth like two seasons ago. The short game and course management are the areas that the team is prioritizing right now in terms of sharpening their edge, but Tretter also wants the Rangers to be resilient enough to bounce back mentally from the difficult shots they’ll face this year.

Having no seniors on last year’s team has yielded the blessing of the Rangers returning all of their varsity starters from last season. Forest Park’s total team size will swell to 17 golfers this season, which Tretter believes will create fertile ground for competition amongst the team. Lane will likely be number one once again, and will look to implement what he learned during tournaments and a caddy stint over the summer for the good of the team’s total score card. Jake Rickelman and Keenan Bertges will provide further senior experience and leadership, and sophomore Gavin Edele will look to build upon his freshman season where he started for the Rangers. Tretter also thinks the team has an abundance of talented freshman, such as Brant Tretter and Cooper Uebelhor, that they can call on if necessary.

Quotable: “We expect that we’ll have a team that’s as good or better than the team that qualified for regionals,” said Tretter. “To have everyone returning from last year, that experience will go a long way as we take the journey through the season.” 

Heritage Hills Patriots

Last Season: Won PAC conference title and finished second overall at sectional, finished 16th overall at regional.

Opening Match: vs. North Posey at Cambridge Golf Course (Evansville), April 9.

Returning Golfers: Josh Nelson (Sr.), Carter Cox (Sr.), Mitch Blasdel (Sr.), Rylan Cox (Jr.), Jordan Mitchell (So.), Gavin Daunhauer (So.), Lucas Townsend (So.), Jacob Smith (So.), Logan Hockenberry (So.).

Key Newcomers: Aidian Rea (Sr.), Owen Vinson (Fr.), Ethan Kane (Fr.).

Notable: Heritage Hills will be welcoming new leadership to the boys golf team this season, as long-time coach Marc Schum retired and Dillion Gregory declined to return for another spring season. So Greg Deller, who’s son previously played on the golf team two years ago, raised his hand to step into the coaches role this season and plans to keep the strong Patriot golf tradition alive, starting with the goal of an eleventh consecutive conference title for the Lincoln City golfers. This will be Deller’s first season coaching on a high school level, but is confident he can take his years of coaching other various area sports teams and apply it to a new sport to great effect.

The Patriots have four of last year’s starters returning in Josh Nelson, Carter Cox, Mitch Blasdel, and Rylan Cox. State qualifying wrestler Aidian Rea has shown some promise in the preseason practices and freshmen Owen Vinson and Ethan Kane have also shown some solid club skills. Deller said the weather hasn’t been the most cooperative as it relates to getting in early season work, but he likes what he has seen from the boys when they have hit the course and thinks it’s just a matter of getting back into the repetition of golf in order for the Patriots to reach their peak form.

Quotable: “We feel like we can continue on with another PAC championship,” said Deller. “It’s possible we could win the sectional. Our primary goal is to advance in the sectional (to the regional match), but an (ulterior) goal would be winning the sectional.”




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