2015 Golf Preview

Posted: August 10, 2015

By ROBERT NIEDZWIECKI
The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — After besting the local competition almost every time it stepped on a course in 2014, the Sherando golf team seems primed to do so again in 2015.

With five of their top six golfers back from last year — including junior Brett Loy, the defending Group 4A state champion — the Warriors took second in the 14th annual Curly Licklider Invitational at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club, which featured 26 teams. The Warriors improved on their stroke total from last year’s tournament by 10 strokes, when they took third.

And while it’s only one tournament, Wednesday was a good sign that Sherando could make a deeper run than last year, when it placed fourth at the Conference 21 tournament.

Sherando is now part of the newly-created Conference 21A, which also features James Wood, Millbrook and Woodgrove (who were in the old Conference 21) as well as Handley and Harrisonburg (who came over from Conference 23). The other four teams that were in Conference 21 last year are now in Conference 21B. (The 4A West Region, formerly the 4A North Region, is the only region in the state with five conferences.)

Five of the six teams in Conference 21A were at the Curly Licklider, and no team came closer than Woodgrove, whose 481 in the 27-hole tournament was 24 strokes worse than Sherando’s. Harrisonburg was not there, but the Blue Streaks finished 77 strokes behind Sherando last year in the 18-hole Spotswood Invitational.

The top two teams at the Conference 21A tournament — which takes place Sept. 24 in Harrisonburg — will advance to the 4A West Region tournament that will be held at the same location on Oct. 6.

In addition to besting the rest of Conference 21A, the Warriors’ also beat each of the three teams that beat them at last year’s Conference 21 tournament. The only team to top Sherando on Wednesday was Loudoun Valley, which has moved up from Group 3A to Group 4A and competes in Conference 21B.

Sherando coach Rob Wright didn’t need the Licklider to tell him that his team had made a lot of progress between the end of the last season and this season.

“They’ve put in a lot of time on the course with practice rounds and tournament golf,” Wright said. “We knew Brett would be solid at No. 1 for us this year, and our other top golfers have dropped two to three strokes.”

In addition to Loy, Sherando’s other returnees include three other golfers who ranked among the area’s top seven in terms of stroke average — senior Mason Scott (80.8, third in the area), junior Jonah Pearson (82.0 fifth in the area) and senior Josh Hogue (83.1, tied for sixth in the area). With all five local teams competing at the Licklider, Scott had the area’s second-best score behind Loy, and Hogue had the fifth-best.

Despite Sherando’s talent, Wright said the Warriors definitely have to be wary of the rest of the teams in the conference.

Millbrook actually only finished four strokes behind Sherando at last year’s Conference 21 meet, and the Pioneers defeated Sherando in a nine-hole dual meet.

But in addition to losing region qualifier Jeremy Mills to graduation, the Pioneers will also not have the services of senior Brian McGuire. McGuire elected not to come out for the team this year after ranking as Millbrook’s top golfer in terms of stroke average each of his three years with the Pioneers, earning all-area selections each time.

Millbrook does return four of its other top six golfers, including Ryan McCarty and Andy Kim, who each posted scores among the area’s top eight at the Licklider.

James Wood loses Roger Repasky — who tied for second at the Group 4A state tournament last year — but senior Hunter Hall posted the area’s fourth-best stroke average last year (81.3). James Wood returns two other players who played in last year’s Conference 21 tournament.

At Handley, David Scott — also the team’s wrestling coach — takes over as head coach after serving as an assistant last year.

In senior Colleen Connolly, the Judges have a player who finished the year in impressive fashion. In addition to being one of only five area players to qualify for the 4A North Region tournament, she nearly qualified for the Group 4A state tournament. She was one of five players who tied for the sixth and final qualifying spot, but because there wasn’t enough daylight no playoff was held. (James Wood’s Repasky grabbed the spot on a tiebreaker.)

In addition to the fact that Conference 21 has broken off to “A” and “B,” another change with Conference 21 golf is that the regular season Conference 21A mini tournament will be held at the same location as the Conference 21 postseason tournament (Heritage Oaks in Harrisonburg). In 2013, there was no Conference 21 regular season tournament, while in 2014 the regular season tourney took place at SVGC while the postseason tourney was held at River Creek Club in Leesburg.

“The more times the kids get to play [Heritage Oaks], the better it’s going to serve them,” James Wood coach David Oates said.

Clarke County returns all its players from last year, led by senior Brendan Ciaburri, who qualified for the 2A East Region tournament last year.

Last year, the Eagles were definitely better than they showed in their last-place showing at the Conference 35 tournament — they placed fourth at the two Bull Run minis and fifth in the Bull Run tournament. (The Bull Run District has one fewer member this year with Manassas Park departing for the Evergreen District.)

But in improving their Licklider score by 36 strokes from last year, this year’s team might be capable of earning a regional berth in the five-team Conference 35 (Strasburg, George Mason, Madison County, Central). The Eagles finished six strokes behind defending conference champion Strasburg, which returns four of its top six golfers, at the Licklider.

The next competition for Handley, James Wood, Millbrook and Sherando is on Tuesday at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club for the first of two Northwestern District mini tournaments this season, and Clarke County will also be in action in Front Royal at Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club on Tuesday for the first of two Bull Run District mini tournaments.

The following is a glance at each area team:

Sherando

Coach: Rob Wright, 15th year.

Last year: Fourth in Conference 21 tournament, Northwestern District regular season champions.

Key loss: Collin Ordonez.

Top returnees: Brett Loy, Jr., Mason Scott, Sr., Jonah Pearson, Jr., Josh Hogue, Sr., Josh Bianco, Jr.

Key newcomers (for top six consideration): Luke Conner, Sr., Ryan Judy, So., Josh Knight, Sr., Ryan Lindberg, Sr..

Mason Scott quote: “We’ve really grown as a team, and we have a great shot at making a possible run at the regional tournament, and possibly states. I’m feeling really confident with where everyone’s game is. We’ve got a great atmosphere at practice. We challenge each other, we push each other. It really helps us play better in practice, and ultimately that leads to better play in tournaments.”

Millbrook

Coach: Mark Manspile, 3rd year.

Last year: Fifth in Conference 21 tournament.

Key losses: Brian McGuire, Jeremy Mills.

Top returnees: Ryan McCarty, Sr., Andy Kim, Jr., Amanda Hayton, Sr., Joe Eisenhauer, Jr., Tyler Holtsclaw, Jr.

Key newcomer: Jack Hayton, Fr.

Manspile quote: “Given that we were only a day removed from tryouts, I thought we started out well [at the Licklider] and I think we have the potential to be a good team. We still need to get better around the greens — our putting is not as solid as it should be — but that should get better as we put in the work.

“I thought Jack played very well in his first high school tournament, and I look for him to do great things. [Hayton’s older sister] Amanda has really improved. Everyone played from the men’s tees this summer [at Blue Ridge Shadows] and Amanda shot a 40 [over nine holes] in the last round of open play we had. I look for Ryan and Andy to provide strong leadership.”

James Wood

Coach: David Oates, 3rd year.

Last year: Seventh in Conference 21 tournament.

Key losses: Roger Repasky, Robby Holmes, Jack Lever.

Top returnees: Hunter Hall, Sr., Zach DeNitto, Sr., Ben Marsh, Sr., Tyler Mounts, So., Doug Watkins, Sr., Cameron Gross, Sr.

Key newcomer: Cameron Baker, Fr.

Oates quote: “We probably won’t really get to really work with the kids until after the Gunter. The thing I’m most happy about [after the Licklider] was [our golfers] were complaining about what they did wrong, and they want to start working on it. That’s satisfying.”

Handley

Coach: David Scott, 1st year.

Last year: Sixth in Conference 23 tournament.

Key losses: Jamie Miller, Joe Lewis.

Top returnees: Colleen Connolly, Sr., Nick Mitchell, Sr., Gregg Burton, So., Kyle Kremer, Jr.

Key newcomers (for top six consideration): Maddi Neff, Fr., Malcolm Rose, Jr., Josh Carter, So., Catherine Burton, Fr.

Scott quote: “Colleen was one stroke away from making it to states last year, and her goal is to make it there. She’s hitting the ball a lot farther this year, she’s more consistent, and her confidence is up just because of how much golf she’s played. Nick Mitchell was disappointed with his postseason last year, but I think he has potential to do well with the scores he’s been shooting, and Gregg played a lot this summer too and is doing a lot better. Our top three we’re excited about, but we’ve got to find a consistent fourth score.

“The attitude on the team’s good. They’re happy and having fun, where last year I don’t know if that was always the case. We just want to make sure they’re having fun, and usually they play better when they are.”

Clarke County

Coach: Scott Tredway, 5th year.

Last year: Seventh in Conference 35 tournament.

Key losses: None mentioned.

Top returnees: Brendan Ciaburri, Sr., Eddie O’Leary, Sr., Cameron Scheib, So., Bryson Peyton, Jr.

Key newcomer: Raul Viza-Fernandez, Fr.

Tredway quote: “It’s basically the same team as last year. But now that they have another year of experience, I think this might be the most talented squad I’ve had at Clarke County. They just have to stay committed, and focus on beating the course rather than the people they’re playing with. We should know more about what we can do after the two Bull Run minis.”

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Follow on Twitter @WinStarSports1

 

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