CHARLOTTESVILLE — Another season, another senior-laden boys golf team for the Eastern Hancock Royals.
For the second straight year, the Royals will have three seniors on their roster. Conner Cross, Kenny Bunnell and Jait Shultz all look to fill the shoes left by Cole Allen, Matt Wilson and Nelson Dulin.
Two of the returning seniors, Cross and Bunnell, will be the only two golfers back this season that have any tournament experience. Both competed in last year’s sectional at Greenfield-Central.
Coach Chelsie Kelley noted the duo’s skills and that she may just let the two play instead of giving them a lot of direction.
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“I might have a lot of that this year, but those two just go out and play on their own and they very rarely ask me questions,” she said. “They know what they need to fix, how to fix it and it’s just a matter of getting out and being consistent with it.”
With the team’s top two in place, Kelley isn’t counting out any of her newcomers from challenging for additional top spots on the team.
One in particular is William Harwood, who played on the Royals’ junior varsity baseball team this time last year. Joining him will be another former baseball player, Cody Young, whose play so far is the exact opposite of Harwood.
“He’s got a lot of strength, so his long game is very strong,” Kelley said of Harwood. “He’s driving the ball farther than most of the kids on our team, which is impressive for him.”
“Cody’s not as strong in his long game, but his short game is very strong, and so he makes up strokes there,” Kelley continued. “But the two go hand-in-hand, and they play pretty consistently with Kenny and Conner.”
Though the season is less than two weeks away, Kelley feels pretty good about how well the team will do this year. She noted that right now she’s been mostly working with some of her younger newcomers and that she could have as many as 12 golfers on the team.
“I think we have some strong points, but I also think we have some weaknesses, but obviously we’ll get better the more we play,” Kelley stated. “I have a pretty good outlook for them, and I think these guys can step up and do as well as we did last year.”
The Royals begin their season April 4 against Hancock County rival Greenfield-Central at Hawks Tail Golf Course.
Team: Eastern Hancock Royals
Coach: Chelsie Kelley
Key Losses: Cole Allen, Matt Wilson, Nelson Dulin
Key Returnees: Conner Cross (12), Kenny Bunnell (12), Jait Shultz (12), KC Smoak (10)
Newcomers: Bryce Jordan (12), William Harwood (11), Cody Young (11), Nick Pelgar (10), Zach Marcum (10), Tyler Castle (10), Lane Coffin (9)
April 4: at Greenfield-Central, 4:30 p.m.
April 14: at Tri, 5 p.m.
April 15: at New Castle, 4:30 p.m.
April 19: at Triton Central, 4:30 p.m.
April 21: at Wes-Del, 4:30 p.m.
April 23: at Mt. Vernon Invitational, 10 a.m.
April 26: at Blue River Valley, 4:30 p.m.
April 28: vs. Cambridge City Lincoln, 4:30 p.m.
May 2: at Indian Creek, 5 p.m.
May 3: at North Decatur, 4:30 p.m.
May 5: at Morristown, 4:30 p.m.
May 7: at Delta Invitational, 1:30 p.m.
May 10: at Shenandoah vs. New Palestine, 4 p.m.
May 14: Mid-Hoosier Conference at North Branch G.C., 9 a.m.
May 25: at Seton Catholic, 5 p.m.
May 31: Hancock County at Greenfield-Central, 11 a.m.
June 1: at Shelbyville Invitational, 8 a.m.