Rolla, St. James and Newburg are all preparing for another spring of golf. All three teams have a mix of returning golfers and new faces looking to make a splash this season.
Rolla works to improve
Head golf coach Zack Nixon has loved the work ethic he's seen out of his golfers as they prep for this season, which makes it easy to look forward to a great spring.
"(I'm looking forward to) Everything. I have an incredibly hardworking team with a great attitude which makes this season like a second Christmas, said coach Nixon. "The work ethic of the team has been amazing in the offseason. Every time I went out to the course I would see someone from the team including freshmen that were preparing to make the team."
With that work effort, he says a lot of players have taken strides this offseason, though his most improved so far would have to be junior Cameron Copeland. He's also seen a pair of freshmen make a strong push as they work to be a part of the varsity rotation.
"Two freshman coming in strong are Jeriah Jordan and Evan Moore, who are currently in the top five on the team," said Nixon.
Coach Nixon also has a pair of strong golfers returning to lead the way. Senior Stewart Meusch is a returning All-Conference golfer, while junior Matt Drallmeir made it to Sectionals last spring.
When it comes to events that the Bulldogs are looking for, Nixon is circling the Camdenton Invitational, which will come around on Wednesday, April 12.
"The Camdenton Invitational is the best tournament to give us an idea of what our competition will be like at Sectionals and State," said coach Nixon.
Rolla will open against Camdenton on the road on Monday, Mar. 20.
A new Class for St. James
The St. James golf teams is one of the few in the area to have both boys and girls in the spring season. St. James will have a mix of new and returning golfers, as they continue to build their program. Head coach Kevin Conway has seen a lot of improvement from his returning players and has seen his new golfers take strides early on.
"I've seen a lot of improvement in a couple of my returning juniors. Payton (Engelbrecht) and Garrick (Lonning) have shown the most improvement," said coach Conway. "Payton spent a lot of time over the summer on the course and even during the winter months trying to improve her game, which she has. She's very determined to continue to get better and has a love for the game. Garrick has gotten stronger and is understanding the game better. His swing has improved as well and is hitting the ball straighter."
Conway continued with his other returning female golfer.
"Hannah Shasserre will begin her second year and keeps working to improve," said coach Conway. "Her short game is where I'm seeing the most improvement and she continues to work on her tee shots. Once she puts it all together, I'm hoping she will be shooting better scores."
The final returning golfer is Max Nappier and Conway thinks he will continue to improve with more work.
"Max keeps getting better, but is still a little inconsistent with his shots," said coach Conway. "He keeps working on all aspects of his game, chipping, putting and tee shots, so I anticipate a much better year from him."
Coach Conway also has two new golfers in Isaac Helterbrand and Seth Courtois. He likes what he's seen so far from the two newbies.
"Isaac Helterbrand is my newcomer that I'm seeing a lot improvement from. He has played baseball in the past, but decided to come out for the golf team this year. He has played a little golf over the summer, but never in a competition, so he needs to get a few meets and tournaments under his belt so we can see where he is at and exactly what he needs to work on. He has a nice swing and is getting better with each practice," said Conway. "Seth, a junior, is entering his first year of golf, so he's trying to understand the game better and get a feel for club selection from various distances. He is showing some potential and if he takes the extra time to work on his game, he could work his way into one of the top 5 varsity positions."
Coach Conway just wants to use the regular season to improve for Districts. St. James will be moving down to Class 2 this year, so the end of the season will come with some new competition. Conway hopes that change is for the better.
"As far as event I'm looking forward to, I'd have to say Districts. My team needs to use every meet and tournament to improve for the end of the year," said coach Conway. "We dropped down to Class 2 this year and I'm hoping everyone will use the season to get better. If we show improvement with every meet and tournament, we should have a chance to get some kids out of Districts."
St. James will start that build toward Districts with a match against St. Clair on Wednesday, Mar. 22.
Newburg rebuilding after graduating six
The Newburg golf team will be leaning on a new crop of seniors this year after having six seniors graduate from last year's squad. Newburg has three seniors in this class, as well as a pair of juniors, that head coach Chris Jessen can work with.
"This year’s numbers are down slightly, but I feel like we have a strong team lead my Seniors Ryker Travis, Hunter Whittaker and Dacoda Shelden," said coach Jessen. "Left-handed golfer Landen Callahan, a junior, certainly seems to have come on strong after last season and promises to offer some competition in the Frisco League. Travis McWilliams, also a junior, has come out for golf this year and certainly shows promise with his long and straight drives and patient putting."
Coach Jessen is looking forward to Frisco League action and he believes the Wolves will be in the hunt in the conference.
"We are looking forward to giving Dixon and Licking some real competition this year...I am looking forward to our Frisco League Tournament at Deer Chase on April 12th to see how these young men perform after our more intense practice routine.," said Jessen. "I hope to see some District and Sectional qualifiers again."
The Wolves have have now lost their home course with S&T shutting down their course, but they've enjoyed the new challenges of practicing on different courses.
"With the closing of the S&T Golf Course, we have been enjoying splitting our time between Oak Meadow Country Club and the St. James Golf Club," said coach Jessen. "I think the challenges these courses present to the high school golfer are giving us practice that will improve both our long and short game."
Newburg will open their season against Cuba on Monday, Mar. 20.