John Glenn already has set the tone for the boys golf season by dominating the Muskingum Valley League’s preseason meet.
The Muskies won by more than 30 strokes.
The fast start can be credited to the return of seven lettermen from 2012’s MVL runner-up squad. The team also placed sixth at the district tournament.
A strong junior class headlines the returning players with two-year letterwinners and first-team All-MVL selections Nate Terry and Jordan Wheeler leading the way. Classmates Derek Crum, Christian Taylor and Peyton Zachrich are back as are sophomores Colin Harshbarger and Nathaniel Bennett.
Chad Orecchio, who is in his 14th season at John Glenn, will have depth thanks to a strong freshman class, which is highlighted by Dylan Van Fossen — the medalist at the preseason meet and Indian Valley Invitational.
Sophomore Javan Johnson and freshman Bryan Smith will battle for varsity time, as freshmen Koy Denny, Billy Mitchell, Bryce Smith, Rob Radcliff and Ty Woodard provide options.
Freshman Lexi Bubenchik “will be a force” on the girls side, Orecchio said.
Orecchio hopes the upperclassmen can continue to build on their success.
“These kids really achieved a lot as freshmen and sophomores. They know there’s no more sneaking up on people this year,” he said. “They have a bad taste left in their mouth from the sectional where they tied for sixth but lost on a fifth-man tiebreaker and did not advance. The kids are ready to get that monkey off their backs.”
Junior Joe Harley, a state qualifier, remains one of the top individual golfers in the MVL. His efforts — along with senior Walker Clark and junior Tanner McConnell — make New Lex one of the top teams in the league.
All three are three-year varsity contributors for seventh-year coach Tim O’Hare, whose Panthers placed second in the MVL preseason meet.
Gone from 2012’s team are Tyler Middaugh and Colin Siemer. Senior Cheyenne Danison, who enters her fourth season, and sophomore Tyler Dillon are back.
Newcomers include freshmen Brayden Metzger, Caleb Barnette, Alec Elliott and Jacob Hughes.
“We are fairly young. We have some freshmen working hard to fill the void, but we need them to play to their potential” O’Hare said. “Their inexperience will show at times, but we expect to be competitive in most matches.”
Although John Glenn remains the team to beat, O’Hare is aiming higher for his Panthers.
“Our goal is to compete for the league title and improve every day,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to get our team to the state tournament.”
Replacing the production of Kyle King, an All-MVL performer, and Alex Weeks, a district qualifier, will be key for the Tornadoes after a fifth-place finish in the league a year ago.
Coach Chris Huff, who is in his eighth season, returns four players in senior Cole Kelley, junior Erik Engdahl and sophomores Zack Herron and Blake Stubbins.
Junior transfer Aaron Harris headlines the team’s newcomers that include sophomore Luke Imes and freshman Connor France.
Despite few of upperclassmen, Huff likes the potential of this group, which includes four freshmen and five sophomores.
“Our younger players are getting the experience needed this season, and it should reflect in the next couple of years,” Huff said. “We are working hard and hoping to finish in the top half.”