Coach: Chelsie Kelley, first season
Home course: Royal Hylands, Knightstown
2014: Royals finished fourth at Hancock County Meet (390), fourth at Mid-Hoosier Conference Championship (375), eighth at Greenfield-Central Sectional (397)
Story continues below gallery
Leading the way: Cole Allen finished 2014 on a strong note, nabbing all-conference honors at the Mid-Hoosier championship before posting the Royals’ top score at the Greenfield-Central sectional (96). New Royals boys coach Chelsie Kelley said she expects Allen to pick up where he left off. “He’s just such a well-rounded player,” Kelley said. “He has a solid short game and his drives are outstanding.”
Outlook: Kelley takes over for Dusty McGee, who coached the Royals for two seasons before leaving for Knightstown. Kelly is coming off of her third season as the Royals’ girls golf coach and is excited about the new coaching challenge. “The boys game is a different beast,” Kelley said. “What I think might be good for my girls on a particular course is not the same for the boys. The scoring will be different, too. When I see a girl shoot a 40, I’m like, wow that’s great. But when a boy shoots a 40, and you look around at what some of the other kids in the county are doing, I’m like, oh my, maybe that wasn’t so good.” … Experience should be a strength, as the Royals return three of five scorers from the 2014 sectional. … Joining Allen at the top of the depth chart is fellow senior Nelson Dulin, who has played in three straight sectionals. He shot a 99 in the state tourney last season and a team-best 94 the year prior. He and Allen will push each other, Kelley said, to determine the Royals’ No. 1 varsity spot. … Other returning varsity contributors are Kenny Bunnell (103 at sectional) and Jacob Stacy (105), as well as Matt Wilson. Kelley also said she has a couple of “newbies who will surprise some people,” citing Conner Cross and power hitter Austin Bednarski.
Teeing off: The Royals take to Royal Hylands Golf Club on Monday for a match vs. Greenfield-Central.
Coach: Jeremy Spencer, first season
Home course: Hawk’s Tail, Greenfield
2014: Cougars finished second at Hancock County Meet (332), fifth at Hoosier Heritage Conference Championship (349), fourth at Greenfield-Central Sectional (319)
Leading the way: Though not usually slotted as the Cougars’ No. 1, Clayton Long displayed his growing talents at mid-May’s Hoosier Heritage Conference championship. The then-sophomore posted a team-low 82, outpacing No. 1 Adam Casto, and earned all-conference honors. First-year coach Jeremy Spender already has witnessed what makes Long special. “He wants to pursue a career in PGA course management. So, you know he’s a golfer at heart,” Spencer said. “He’s a composed golfer and very wise. He knows the game. When it comes to situational golf, he knows how to work his way through the tough spots.”
Outlook: A single stroke kept Greenfield-Central out of regional action last season, as its 319 landed a fourth-place finish behind qualifying Shelbyville (318). Adding to the heartbreak was the departure of four-fifths of that sectional squad. This year’s version of Cougars golf will not include 2013 state qualifier Adam Casto, Conner Pence, Jacob Kauth or Max Holtzclaw, which will make pursuit of the program’s first sectional title since 1997 that much more difficult. … Spencer said excellent practice rounds by juniors Gage Mann and Christian Henderson make them likely candidates to fill in the spots behind Long. “Gage will be in the top three for sure,” Spencer said. “He is excellent in the short game. He has a smooth, solid swing. He is very consistent. Christian is the same way.” … Spencer said much of the remainder of the group is made up of youngsters new to the game. “This is a very dedicated group, and I’m encouraged by that,” Spencer said. “In terms of their (inexperience) being a stresser, I’d say it’s not at all.”
Teeing off: The Cougars kick off their season Monday at Royal Hylands Golf Club vs. Eastern Hancock.
Coach: Caleb Zelencik, sixth season
Home course: Arrowhead, Greenfield
2014: Marauders finished first at Hancock County Meet (310), sixth at Hoosier Heritage Conference Championship (351), second at Greenfield-Central Sectional (308), 14th at Muncie Central Regional (339)
Leading the way: As an incoming freshman coming off a stellar middle-school career, Oliver Mast was expected to make an impact for the Marauders last season. But not even coach Caleb Zelencik saw Mast’s emergence as the county’s top golfer coming. “I expected solid play. I expected him to be competitive,” Zelencik said. “I knew he’d be good, but for a freshman, he managed pressure so well.” Mast shot a 1-under 71 to become the first frosh to champion a sectional since New Palestine’s Mitchell Simmons in 2009. Mast backed up that performance with a county-best 80 at the Muncie Central Regional. The all-Hoosier Heritage Conference golfer returns with elevated expectations, and Zelencik thinks he has the talent to reach his lofty goals. “His best skill is that he knows what he’s capable of, and he doesn’t try to do more.” the coach said. “Also he has a short memory. You have to have that in golf. The best golfers have short memories.”
Outlook: Mt. Vernon is the five-time defending county champion, and with the return of Mast and fellow letter winners Will Dant, Jacob Ault and Jack Harker, they could make it six straight. However, for the first time in four years, the individual county crown will not be worn by Austin Alexander. The three-time meet champ graduated, leaving the door open. … Expect the sophomore Dant and the junior Ault to duel for the No. 2 spot behind Mast. Dant edged Ault by two strokes at the sectional (80-82) only to see Ault defeat him by one shot at the regional (86-87). No matter who emerges as the No. 2, Zelencik said, Marauders fans can expect the pair to help the team. … The key, Zelencik said, will be how his players respond as the season grinds on. “I’ll be watching to see how they bounce back.” he noted. “A lot of golfers hit a wall midway through the season. We have to make sure than when the end of the season comes, we’re ready to make a push.”
Teeing off: The Marauders host an April 15 match vs. Lapel.
Coach: Gregg Greene, 21st season
Home course: Hawk’s Tail, Greenfield
2014: Dragons finished third at Hancock County Meet (347), seventh at Hoosier Heritage Conference Championship (381), fifth at Greenfield-Central Sectional (346).
Leading the way: Brady Elliott is not afraid of the spotlight. In fact, in back-to-back high-pressure sectional meets, Elliott has flourished, posting mid-70 scores and earning consecutive regional berths. In this his final season in a Dragons uniform, the senior has a chance to qualify for the state finals at Prairie View in Carmel come mid-June. “Like a lot of young guys, he has no fear,” New Palestine coach Gregg Greene said with a chuckle. “He can hit the ball a long way. Over the course of his career, he has done a much better job of being able to control the emotional ups and downs of a round. He also improved his short game a bunch heading into last year, and I expect it to be even better this year.”
Outlook: After coming up nearly 30 strokes short of clinching a regional berth last season, Greene’s Dragons aim to qualify for their first regional since 2009. “Getting out of sectionals is something we take a lot of pride in. We did it almost every year from 2002 to 2009. I think we’re in good position to compete for that No. 3 spot this year (the top three sectional scoring teams advance to the regional).” … One big advantage New Palestine has gained is its move to Hawk’s Tail Golf Course in Greenfield, the location of the sectional. Greene said the move from The Links will make his players more comfortable playing on the sectional course, and that Hawk’s Tail is a challenging setup. “Hawk’s Tail has small greens and narrow fairways,” Greene said. “You have to be precise there.” … Returning varsity letter winner and sectional competitor, senior Matt Kreutzer (102), as well as Evan Rejer and Hunter Jones, are expected to make an impact. “There has not been a huge difference in scores so far in golfers two through 11,” Greene said. “So that grouping will be fluid. Kids will get a chance to get their feet wet for the first few weeks, then it will come down to scores and averages.”
Teeing off: On April 11, the Dragons visit HHC rival Yorktown to compete in a four-way meet with the Tigers, Jay County and Alexandria.