It's time to tee it up!
Prep golf season is officially slated to begin around the state of Ohio on Wednesday, but many prep players have been working on their games all summer through various junior tournaments and such.
The season will run through the middle of September when the Buckeye State begins its three-week postseason that culminates for area schools on Oct. 10 and 11 with the state tournament.
UNION LOCAL’S Tucker Fenstamaker plays a shot during a junior tournament held last Monday at Belmont Hills Country Club. He’ll be one of the Jets’ leaders during the upcoming prep golf season, which opens Wednesday around Ohio.
The OVAC Championships will once again be staged at Oglebay's courses. The Class 4A and 5A tournaments will be played on the Jones Course at Speidel, while the Class 3A and 1A/2A tournaments will be played at Crispin.
The dates of the OVAC Class 4A and 1A/2A events are set for Sept. 9 and the Class 5A and 3A are Sept. 11.
The Buckeye 8 Championship, which will expand to 9 teams, will be held on two days. Cadiz Country Club will host the first 18-hole round on Aug. 22 and Belmont Hills Country Club in St. Clairsville will host the final round on Sept. 5.
Here's a capsule look at the teams that returned their information:
BARNESVILLE - The Shamrocks will boast a "very young" boys squad, according to head coach Jerry Robinson.
The Shamrocks boast a seven-player roster, but none are seniors.
Junior Aspen Bauman is the team's leader as he seeks his third letter. He's backed by sophomore Dillon Freeman and Robinson thinks freshman Davey Wells could make an impact in the team's top three.
Also battling for action are sophomores Jeb Plumly, Devin Clouse and Ben Inherst and freshman Austin West.
"We're thin on experience, but our kids are eager to learn, they're very coachable and getting better every day," Robinson said.
For the second straight season, Barnesville will feature a complete girls' team that's playing its own schedule.
"Our girls are very experienced," Robinson said. "With the experience the girls gained last, year, I believe we can compete with anyone on our schedule. The girls have worked hard all summer attending camps, practices and tournaments. I am really looking forward to a big year from them."
Senior Maci McEndree leads the way for the Shamrocks' girls. Juniors Raenah Norris and Paige Hayes are both seeking their third letters, while sophomores Ciara Bauman and Makayla Flood earned a letter last season.
Newcomers Lexi Thornton, Shay Butler and Maci Wise are all trying to crack the lineup.
BRIDGEPORT - The Bulldogs' golf program hasn't been around all that long, but its undergone a coaching change. Mike Muklewicz has taken over the reins from Ron Gill and has five players out for the team.
"The kids are really excited to get back out (on the course) and have been working hard this summer on their games," Muklewicz said. "We have a good group of guys who enjoy playing the game and the competition during practice is a great thing to have. It's been creating an environment to help each other get better."
Gone from last season is Zach Herink, who owned an average of 39 a season ago.
However, three players with significant varsity experience return in senior Parker Dyson (44 average in 2013) sophomore Dylan Nowakowski (48) and sophomore Jeff Tennant (50).
Newcomers to the team include senior Bailey McGrath, who will also be a member of the Bulldogs' football team, and sophomore Matt Herink, who is also a football player.
"Ron (Gill) did a great thing getting this program started and on its feet a few years back," Muklewicz said.
BUCKEYE LOCAL - The Panthers' limped through a 4-14 season in dual matches during the 2013 campaign under Dave Cybulski and are losing their top two players in Brennan Czuchran and Eric Williams.
However, returning letterwinners Dan Duill, Josh Faldowski, Austin Antill and Jake Savage hope to get the Panthers back on track. Cybulski also pointed out that incoming freshman Austin Anderson should make an impact.
HARRISON CENTRAL - There's strength in numbers for the Huskies. Veteran head coach Todd Dunlap has 13 players out for the squad this season, including four returning starters.
Leading the way for the Huskies is senior mainstay Austin Kowalski, who was all Buckeye 8, all Times Leader and all district.
"We're looking for Austin to continue the improvement he has shown over the past years and is looking to accomplish many goals in his senior season," Dunlap said. "Austin's the type of student-athlete you like to have on your team in any sport."
Junior Bryce Walrath, junior Evan Ossman and junior Jarett Edwards are all expected to be in the top five.
"All three of those juniors have put time into developing their game and it has shown in their improvement in just two seasons of competitive golf," Dunlap said.
A battle has ensued for the final varsity spots between senior Matt Hawthorne, sophomore Hunter Sloan, sophomore Reese Saho and freshman Clint Heavilin.
Rounding out the roster are junior Ralph Gillig, sophomores Zach Henry and Kyle Zaucha; freshmen Justin Boyer and Chandler Greer.
The Huskies' home course is once again Cadiz Country Club's par 72 layout.
Dunlap, who is in his ninth season, is being assisted by Brian Gosett.
JOHN MARSHALL - The Monarchs begin their third season under Dave Gaudino with a solid cast returning.
"Our team is still young, but it has some experience," Gaudino said. "We're looking forward to a good season."
Junior Colin Griffith is the top returnee for the Monarchs. He's been their number one player the past two seasons. Sophomore Justin Blake is back in the second spot.
Sophomore Kailey Pettit has had a strong summer and expects a big season. She played on the Callaway Junior Tour and was a top-10 player.
Senior Robert Strait and junior Jared Kettler are both multiple-year letterwinners and should be in the mix. Jacob Masters is another returning letterman.
The balance of the roster includes: Oskar Wojtowicz, Stephen Fumich, Colton Patrello, Dorothy Lauter and Lillian West.
The Monarchs call Speidel, Crispin and Wheeling Park their home courses.
Gaudino is being assisted by his nephew, Andy Gaudino.
LINSLY - The Cadets are in a new position as they prepare for the 2014 season. They've still got plenty of talented players, but there is a new face leading the way.
Long-time head coach Mark Zavatsky stepped down and has since moved to Florida. Long-time assistant Mike Church has taken over.
"The shoes of Mr. Z. will be hard to fill since he's one of the winningest coaches in the Ohio Valley with double digit OVAC championships," Church said. "Our kids are excited to try to keep the tradition he helped build going."
Leading the way for the Cadets is David Coram, who had a strong 2013 season and an impressive summer. Steve Songer, Casey O'Korn and Jordan Patrick are all returning lettermen. Church believes Ted O'Donald will make a run at being the Cadets' fifth scorer.
"Our entire team is made up of serious golfers," Church said. "Most of them want to play in college and they've played as many tournaments as they possible could have this summer, so I think we should have a good season."
MARTINS FERRY - The maturation process is continuing for the 2014 Purple Riders' golf team.
Despite losing nary a player to graduation, second-year head coach Stacey Bliss features a team that still is without a senior and only five players total.
"We're in a growth period," Bliss said. "I expect our upperclassmen to continue to develop as the season progresses, while mentoring the first-time players to produce a determined and competitive group."
Leading the way is talented junior Joel Shane. He has invested a lot of rounds this summer and played in many junior tournaments around the area.
Other juniors on the squad are Takota Hagerty, Logan Miller and Max Prezelenski. Rounding out the roster is freshman Thomas Orzolek.
The Purple Riders' home course will be Bec-Wood Hills, which is a par 36 layout.
Bliss is being assisted once again by Brandon Shane.
MEADOWBROOK - The Colts will feature a solid blend of experience and youth, according to veteran head coach Mel Pesuit.
Four letterwinners return from a team that finished second in the OVAC Class 4A tourney and second in the ECOL Gray Division and narrowly missed qualifying for the Division II district.
Leading the list of returnees is Damon Moore, who is seeking his fourth letter. He was the Colts' team medalist and an all-district performer.
Other returning lettermen are junior Zach Clair, junior Taylor Gander and sophomore Devin Webster.
Challenging for a spot in the lineup are Marissa Goodright, Carter McManaway and junior Cameron May.
Four freshmen looking to contribute include: Tanner Hewison, Trey Singleton, Parker Yontz and Remi Pickens.
"The three major goals for each season are the OVAC, ECOL, and the sectional tournament. We should compete for all three," Pesuit said. "East Liverpool, Harrison Central, and Beaver Local should be the chief competition in the OVAC. The sectional will again be tough, with John Glenn looking like the best team in the East District. However, the Colts have worked hard all summer and will be ready for the challenges ahead. We expect a solid season."
MONROE CENTRAL - The Seminoles boast just three players this season as Coach Ryan Rosnick begins his 10th season.
"This year is shaping up to be a big learning year," Rosnick said. "This will be by far my most inexperienced team in my years of coaching."
Two seniors - Victoria Price and Brett Tomlin - will lead the way. The other member of the team is freshman Coleman Tomlin.
The Seminoles' lone graduation loss was Micah Roberts.
RIVER - The Pilots come into the season with high expectations, according to head coach Justin Fetty.
"I feel like we're going to have a hard trio to top in the OVGL, but there are some great golfers around the other OVGL school, and we all know there are more than three players on a team," Fetty said. "We are going to need help on the back half of the team, and I really feel we have great depth through the rest of the team."
Leading the way will be Brandon Smith, Issac Curtis and Blaze Amos.
Senior Mikayla Newman and senior Rebekah Jones could challenge for the final two spots along with first-year player Travis Goddard. Also out for the team this season is Zac Smith, who is a member of the Pilots' football team, too.
"Overall, I really hope we can achieve our team goals which include winning the OVAC 3A and winning the OVGL," Fetty said. "I believe those are attainable goals."
SHADYSIDE - Tigers head coach Mike Beck likes the mixture of veterans and youth he has on his golf squad this season.
Leading the way for Shadyside is senior Jake Gregan, who is in search of his fourth letter. He averaged a 43 last season and earned a spot on the all-OVAC team.
"We're looking for Jake to be the leader this year," Beck said. "We look for big things from him to finish his senior year and possibly make a run at the district spot."
He'll be joined by three-year letterwinner Nick Ferrelli, who averaged a 50 last season.
Sophomores Dalton Palmer and Brittnee Edgar both earned a letter last season and averaged a 48. Colby Sherwood checked in with a 52 en route to earning a letter and junior Justin Bowers rounds out the team. He's out for the squad for the first time.
"This year's team is a work-in-progress," Beck said. "I'm expecting a lot of improvements throughout the year from our three sophomores and Nick."
Shadyside calls Powhatan's Clair-Mar its home course.
Beck is being assisted by Jared Andes.
ST. CLAIRSVILLE - The Red Devils have set the standard for golf programs in the immediate area in recent years.
Co head coaches Joe Jeffries and Melanie Eaton return three lettermen from a squad that claimed the Buckeye 8 championship in 2013.
"We had a rebuilding season and still won the Buckeye 8, but our scores from the guys we have coming back will really need to improve for us to be competitive," Jeffries said.
Gone from last year is unquestioned leader Seth Vannoy, who will play collegiately at Alderson-Broaddus. Also graduated are Nate Teater, Joel Giffin, Michael Eaton and Dalton Showalter.
"We are hoping our seniors will step up as leaders," Jeffries said.
Junior Chase Wiethe is expected to be one of the Red Devils' leaders this season. He's been active this summer in many tournaments. Seniors Josh Purman, Zac Lloyd and Chris Clark will also be counted upon heavily.
Jeffries also spoke highly of sophomores Josh Robinson and Ryan Petrozzi, who have also played several tournaments.
Sophomore Mikhail Bady is a newcomer to the program.
The Red Devils will play their home matches at Belmont Hills Country Club, which will host the final round of the Buckeye 8 Championship next month.
UNION LOCAL - The Jets enter the new season with a change in leadership. Mark Hissrich stepped down after a lengthy career at the helm and Eric Snodgrass has taken over the Jets' program.
"As a first-year coach, I am looking forward to the upcoming season," Snodgrass said.
The Jets lost Tristan Bruce - a Division II district qualifier - to graduation. Also gone are Aaron Bolt and Brian May.
However, Union Local returns four lettermen and three newcomers to a team that Snodgrass believes can compete well.
"With four returning lettermen, our team has experience that should help us compete in the Buckeye 8 and the OVAC," Snodgrass said.
Leading the list of returnees is a pair of three-year lettermen in Jarret Causby and Tucker Fenstamaker. Senior Shawn Billetter is back in search of his third letter and junior Lucas Robb rounds out the letter-winning quartet.
The newcomers are sophomore Bryce Gatti, freshman Josh Britton and sophomore Audie Hezoucky.
WHEELING PARK - The Patriots are back for more. Coach Don Headley's squad has been either state champion or state runnerup in Class AAA each of the last six seasons.
The Patriots' express doesn't appear ready to slow down, either.
"We're facing a very tough schedule," Headley said. "We travel to Columbus for three tournaments, Dayton and two at Parkersburg."
Leading the way for the Patriots will be two-time defending Class AAA state champion Cole Hand. He was the runnerup as a freshman.
Junior Dyan Wojcik and classmate Freddie Fitzsimmons will be strong along with sophomore Kyle Wensel and Jared Jorden.
Others on the squad include: Lizzy Douglas, Hunter Travis, Bobby Custer, Ryett Schodzinski, Jacob Nicholl, Garrett Bopp, Chayse Stahanczyk.