The landscape on the Fox Valley Association girls golf horizon is going through a change.
Seven of the top 11 golfers from the conference last year — based on all-FVA teams — have been lost to graduation and no school has more than one player back that received first- or second-team all-conference honors.
The top three finishers at least year’s conference meet — Oshkosh West, Appleton East and Neenah — lost a combined 10 of 15 golfers to graduation.
All of that adds up to a changing of the guard and a wide open race for this year’s conferencecrown.
“I really don’t know what the conference is going to look like this year,” Oshkosh North coach Dan Dunn said. “I don’t recall if there is any team that is going to be truly dominant and that opens the door for other people to win some matches.”
The Spartans hope to be one of the teams sliding through the gap and into an upper division finish in the league.
Although North lost its No. 1 golfer from last year in Michelle Kim, the Spartans do bring back junior Amy Smits, who has played the last two years on varsity and earned an individual bid to the WIAA sectional meet last season.
She was the top scorer among the honorable mention honorees last year and will likely be Spartans top golfer this season.
“She’s a dedicated golfer,” Dunn said. “She put in a lot of time this summer. She’s in good form for the start of the season and I think she has pretty high expectations for herself and I think she’s going to have a real good year.”
Expected to join Smits in the varsity line-up this season are senior Andrea Opel and junior Kristen Leonard, who each saw some varsity action a season ago.
Senior Edie Trebon also figures to be in the mix after coming out for the team for the first time last year.
Freshman Anna Smits — Amy’s sister — and sophomore Emily Daun, an experienced player out for golf for the first time, are also expected to challenge for playing time.
“We’re fairly inexperienced,” Dunn said. “We’re going to have four players with limited varsity experience.”
The Wildcats graduated their top three players from last year, including state placewinner Heather Zuleger.
That means first-year coach Dan Powers will have to retool a lineup for the two-time defending FVA champs.
Powers, who was the assistant coach at Somerset for five years before, does return one varsity player from last year in senior Haley Olkiewicz.
The other 12 players on his roster, though, will be new to the varsity level.
“They are young,” Powers said. “There are a couple that have some potential and have played a lot of golf. … There is a lot of competition right now and that will help improve each girl.”