By MIKE MATHISON
The Madonna golf team, the last four years, has won a West Virginia Class A state championship, been runner-up three times and confiscated Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championships.
Madonna's Michael Rogers
Catholic Central's Austin Meronoff
"We have high aspirations again this season," said head coach T.J. Brancazio. "With everyone back from last year, we expect to contend for another state championship."
Those top five are seniors Michael Rogers, Alex Colantonio and Thomas Gianni and juniors Nick Mazur and Matthew Lyons.
Also vying for time are freshman Hunter Payne, junior Anthony Basil, sophomore Lorenzo Basil and seniors Alan Alimario and Ryan Watts.
Rogers and Colantonio found a spot on the Class A all-state tournament team a year ago and all five were all-OVAC.
"We had 19 golfers tryout for varsity this year and that bodes well for our program," said Brancazio.
The top six is led by sophomore Austin Meronoff, who earned all-OVAC honors a year ago after shooting 72 to be the Class 2A medalist.
The Crusaders finished second last year to Wheeling Central after winning the team crown in 2011.
Looking to help return Catholic Central to the OVAC top are seniors Mike Manfresca, Jason Bensur and Josh Merriman and underclassmen Nick Ivkovich and Kevin Wells.
"We have are great group of young players also in Matt Fischer, Brandon Svec, Patrick Spiess, Christian Reed, Drew Reed, Luke Karaba, Anthony Defallo," said head coach Rocky Augustine. "As of now we are18-4 and expecting another good year for our program.
"These kids have worked hard all summer and are expecting to win and want to go far in state play this year."
Meronoff qualified for the Division III district tournament last season at Cumberland Trail Golf Course.
The Bruins are led by junior Logan Lojszczyk, who lettered his first two years and qualified for the Class AAA state tournament a year ago.
The other five are first-year players in seniors Noah Teaff and Trey Gilham, juniors Michael Petrosky and Luc Pannett and sophomore Mario Boni.
"We are looking forward to the upcoming season," said head coach Ron Ujcich. " We have our work cut out for us, but the team has been working really hard to improve and get better each day. We are a young team this year after graduating 5 seniors from last year's team.
"The coaches have asked the team to work on getting better each day so that we can be ready for regionals when the time comes."
The Huskies return junior Austin Kowalski and sophomores Bryce Walrath, Evan Ossman and Jarett Edwards.
Last year Harrison Central finished 11-4 in dual meets, third in the Buckeye 8, fifth in the OVAC and 12th in the sectional tournament.
"Austin Kowalski (a two-year starter and letterwinner) will be looked on to continue the steady improvement he has shown over the past years," said head coach Todd Dunlap, who is in his 10th year. "Austin is the type of kid you would like to have on your team in any sport. He is ultra competitive, a hard worker, and has the drive to excel. These are the reasons why he has already been a three sport (golf, basketball, baseball) varsity contributor for both his freshman and sophomore year's.
"Bryce Walrath, Evan Ossman, and Jarett Edwards all saw significant varsity time as freshmen and should continue to show improvement. All three sophomore letterwinners have put time into developing their game and it has shown in their improvement in just a season of competitive golf. I am looking for all three to grow up fast and be the major contributors right away."
The Huskies also have juniors Matt Hawthorne and Kyle Neimeyer, sophomore Ralph Gillig and freshmen Hunter Sloan and Zach Henry.
"Overall, we are still very young and inexperienced as a group," said Dunlap. "However, as we continue to develop and improve, we are becoming more and more optimistic about the future."
Head coach Tom Bocek has seniors Ben Boyd, Jimmy Marsh and Shane Pendleton, junior Clay Woodward and sophomore Mason Allese.
"We are an older team age/class-wise but young experience-wise," said Bocek. "Only two are returning lettermen in Boyd and Marsh, and these two are our leaders. They are consistent, hard working, and lead by example. Jimmy had surgery last Oct on his spine to correct a severe scoliosis problem. He was able to start playing golf again in late June.
"Pendleton and Woodward are first-time golfers for Edison. Allese is starting his second season after playing sparingly last year after dealing with a physical complication of his own. Again, we may be a little green, but are getting better with each practice and round as the season progresses. They are starting to gain confidence in their swings, their chipping and putting, and their overall games.
"We hope to continue making positive strides and are competitive at tournament time. These are five great boys from great families, they have good work ethics and are fun to be around and a pleasure to coach."
The Redskins have had a great start to the season, going 5-0.
Coach Ray Case has seniors Adam Freshwater and Jesse Rouse, juniors Justin Dailey and Chris Riffee and sophomores Aaron Foldi and Cody Hopkins.
"They are all are veterans of the program and look to build on the success that they enjoyed last year," said Case.
Big Red has one returning player in junior Kasey Peterson.
"This year's Big Red squad is young and inexperienced," said head coach Joe Biasi.
The coach also has sophomores Gabrielle Peterson and Deshaun Smith and freshman Jonah Moro, Isaiah Lee, Isaiah Herring, and Josh Gault.
"There is a lot of potential in this group and they will see improved scores throughout the season," said Biasi. "It is a fun bunch to coach and I am looking forward to a challenging and most certainly rewarding season."
The Red Knights have two returners from a year ago - two-year letterman Ben Hlivko (junior) and letterman Nick Ighnat (sophomore).
"We are a very young and inexperienced group with only two returners from last year," said head coach Mark Ferrell.
The remaining six players are sophomores Will Newbold and Riley Keirsey and freshmen Noah Smith, Sante Carducci, Parker Wright and Caden Kelly.
"The kids are working hard on their game and improving every day," said Ferrell. "We hope to be playing our best golf at tournament time. I'm really excited about the turnout with our young kids and their work ethic. If they continue to work hard on their game they will find success in the near future."
The Panthers have seniors Brennan Czuchran and Eric Williams, juniors Dan Duill, Josh Faldowski and Austin Antill and sophomore Jake Savage.
Czuchran lettered two years ago and Duill last year.
"We lost five players to graduation, including our top four," said head coach Dave Cybulski. "Most of the team has never played competitive golf. It will be a learning experience."
Second-year coach Jerry Everly has five players and they are led by junior Haley Spurlock.
"She is our No. 1 golfer and has improved every year," said the coach. "She will lead the team.
The coach also has senior Matt Stipec, sophomore Mike Watkins and freshmen Trey Smith and Jason Chappell.
"Mike Watkins has worked on his game over the summer and Trey Smith shows a lot of potential," said Everly.
Four players are out for head coach Joe Smarrella - senior Tyler Warrick, junior Austin Paul-Orecchio, freshman Joe Patterson and sophomore Eric Winwood.
"I look for our players to get better each day," said the coach. "We are thankful we are able to play our home matches and Williams Country Club again this year. They have been very gracious."