FORTVILLE — After a year of winning big tournament after big tournament, the Mt. Vernon girls golf team will have a lot of players in their first tournaments.
Fourth-year head coach Mike Miner will have his largest team, numbers-wise, and youngest, too.
“We’re not thinking of this as a rebuilding year, but a year where we build on the past success,” Miner said. “I want the girls to understand that we want to keep trying to get better every day. I think we’ll be competitive.”
They were very competitive last season, even dominant at times.
In 2021, Mt. Vernon won Hancock County, Hoosier Heritage Conference and Greenfield-Central Sectional titles.
Alaina Nugent won individual championships in all three and teammate Meredith Johnson joined Nugent as a qualifier for the IHSAA Girls Golf State Finals.
The Marauders won the county, a nine-hole tournament, by 20 strokes, the conference by 25, and the sectional by 45.
The conference team title was the first in 18 years. The sectional crown was the first since 2013.
Both Nugent and Johnson have graduated. Nugent is playing at the NCAA Division I level for Ohio University. In all, the Marauders lost their top four golfers. Coach’s daughter, Mackenzie Miner, an All-HHC golfer, is another graduate, while Sophie Amengnigan, an exchange student a year ago, has returned to France.
Nugent, Johnson and Amengnigan finished 1-2-3, respectively, in last year’s county tournament.
There’s plenty of past success to build on.
Coach Miner believes the success is why the program has the most players in his tenure.
Mt. Vernon has a 14-member roster. There are 11 freshmen and sophomores and no seniors.
“It’s going to be different season, but we’re looking forward to it,” coach Miner said.
Two sophomores are the most experienced. Izzy VanHeel was a varsity member all of last season. Natalie Miner also played in some varsity matches.
Juniors Aubrey Trittipo and Kalin Wallpe may grab a couple of the vacancies left by graduation. Both have been part of the team since their freshmen seasons, but this will be the first time in the varsity lineup.
Gigi Avers, a sophomore, is the only other returnee that was part of the 2021 program.
The rest of the roster has five freshmen and a group of sophomores and a junior that are new to the team.
Coach Miner might not know how his lineup will look for today’s season opener against Pendleton Heights — runners-up in last year’s HHC meet — but he knows he will have a lot of players to choose from.
They will be busy early. Along with the opener at Arrowhead Golf Course, the team’s home venue, the Marauders welcome Shelbyville on Wednesday. The third contest of the season, next Tuesday with Beech Grove and Lawrence Central, is also a home match.
“Our top players are all young,” coach Miner said. “It will be a great year for them to get that experience and exposure of playing some better players. They’ll struggle through that because they’re not used to it. It’ll make them stronger players for the future.”
The Marauders have a new assistant coach this season, too. Andy Sebold, a new teacher in the school system, is the former coach at Perry Meridian.