High school golf should bring an interesting season starting Saturday when Washington travels to play in the Fuzzy Zoeller Invitational at Covered Bridge Golf Club.
The majority of the other area teams open this coming week, with several looking for improved seasons.
The Hatchets have a solid core of returning veterans, including The Times Herald Player of the Year this past spring in Cam Lancaster.
"I think we're going to be in the mix for a lot of things this year," Washington coach Bill Ricke said. "We did a pretty good job last year despite being so young. The kids are older and they've put in the work. I think it will pay off this year." Clay Hatton is expected to push Lancaster this season with Tyler Stoll and Devan Rude bringing last season's experience.
Andy Garland and Sam Williams also look for a top spot with freshman Connor Brown. Derek Gress, Ben Gaither and Austin Ghirardelli also look for playing time.
The Hatchets face an uphill climb in the Big Eight with state finalist Jasper expected to be at the top of the standings. Sectional foe Vincennes Lincoln also returns a good team. The Wildcats are not in Washington's sectional field at Vincennes.
"We would like to go for a sectional title," Ricke said. "Of course Vincennes Lincoln and Rivet are there. We hope to challenge and at least qualify for the regional this year at Hulman Links at Terre Haute." Washington Catholic The Cardinals are young, but veteran coach Morris Petty hopes his team can find its way.
Ethan Wichman, Jon Mitchell, Brian Brown and Brandon Strange are sophomores.
AJ Sellers is a freshman.
"Ethan, Jon and Brandon played some for us last year," Petty said. "We've had a problem getting out on the course because of the weather. But I think we're going to be pretty solid with Ethan and Jon at the top." The other three will have to help as experience is gained through the season.
"It's been hard to really get out and do much to date," Petty said. "I think the kids will improve as the season progresses." Barr-Reeve First-year coach Matt Anderson has one of the better players in the area in Eric Wagler. The sophomore qualified as an individual from last spring's sectional and competed in the regional.
"Eric qualified from sectional last year and we're hoping he can make it again this year and do better in the regional," Anderson said.
Seventeen Vikings turned out for the team this spring, and Anderson is still looking through the field as the season prepares.
"I honestly don't know right now who is going to end up in our top seven," Anderson said. "We have a fairly young team with a lot of sophomores and freshmen coming out. There is going to be a lot of competition for those spots." Anderson is expecting his players to make their way as the season progresses.
"I think there will be a lot of different players playing at a lot of different times in different matches," Anderson said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how the season comes out as we go along. We'll just have to see how it goes." North Daviess The Cougars have also had problems with time on the course to date, but coach Brian Brinegar thinks his Cougars could have an improved season.
"If we can get to the course and start playing, I think we have the experience for the team this year to have a good year." Seniors Lane Heshelman and Lane Fulton lead a group that features junior Tucker Fisher and sophomore Austin Byrer, Justin Knepp and Keegan Streepy.
Five freshman are also expected to look for experience.
Fisher should be the team leader.
"I think Tucker can stay in the high 30s and lower 40s most of the season," Brinegar said. "With our experience I think we can do pretty well in the conference (SWIAC)." Most of the Cougar practice time has been spent near the school and inside at the top of the gym.
North Daviess was set to open April 4, but that match has been made into a triangular April 9.
"We just need to have more time on the course," Brinegar said. "I think we can have a better year."
Loogootee coach Jason Hennette agreed the weather hasn't helped his Lions, but Hennette believes his team may be ready for an improved season in 2013.
Sophomore Chris Lyon is one of the four veterans that Hennette believes may be ready for a better spring, along with senior Tyler Booker, junior Josh Lampert and sophomore Jayce Wagoner. Loogootee also has a crop of freshmen who could add depth.
"I think we can improve from last year," Hennette said. "I'm looking for Chris to have a good year, but the important thing is for the kids to improve from last year an enjoy the game." Hennette is also happy to see Loogootee open a middle school program. "We started the program this year, and I think that will help us in the years to come."