Girls golf season is now well underway. For the rest of the high school fall sports schedule, competition begins this week, with first contests taking place Monday.
Last fall, four Tippecanoe County teams advanced to the state championship in their respective sport, including three at West Lafayette, which had a semistate appearance by another of its fall sports teams.
That feat will be tough to top but it doesn’t diminish what should be an entertaining season. Here’s five things to keep an eye on as competition gets underway this week.
The 2013 season ended with West Lafayette’s girls raising the Class A state championship trophy. The Red Devils’ run was impressive but they may not have even been the best girls soccer program in the area, losing to McCutcheon, a regional finalist that lost to Class 2A runner-up Fishers, in the regular season.
Central Catholic should test West Lafayette at the sectional and Hoosier Conference level this season as well.
On the boys side, Faith Christian made school history by winning the school’s first IHSAA sectional title. The Eagles won a regional match, too. McCutcheon also claimed a sectional title last season and will vie for a third straight in an open sectional.
In recent years, it has been the West Lafayette girls knocking on the door of a cross country state championship.
The Red Devils backed up a runner-up finish in 2012 with a fourth-place finish last season. They open 2014 ranked ranked third by Indianarunner.com. West Side’s powerhouse program will make it tough for Twin Lakes to win titles, but the Indians also are among the top teams in the state, led by junior Madeline Lilly, and junior Olivia Johnson gives Harrison a presence in the lead pack at meets.
While the Red Devil girls have made quite a bit of noise challenging Carmel in recent years, the boys could be the one to break through among an open field vying for the state title this year. Junior Cooper Williams leads a veteran group that could challenge for the program’s first state title since 1964, which would make for one heck of a 50th anniversary celebration.
Court in session
Harrison dethroned West Lafayette in the boys tennis sectional last season with an all-freshman battle at No. 1 singles won by the Raiders. It appeared there would be a battle for the area’s top player over a four-year period between Harrison’s Cole Bradley and West Lafayette’s Ryan Hollis. Bradley elected not to play tennis his sophomore year, but it doesn’t mean Harrison isn’t shooting to defend its sectional title.
Meanwhile, the gap could be closing between what has been the team to beat in these parts for the last two decades (West Lafayette) and the rest of the area. Benton Central has a strong cast back, and Central Catholic and Lafayette Jeff have depth and no shortage of players who’ve spent their offseason with racquet in hand.
It wasn’t long ago that Brad McCarter and Chad Marshall were assistant coaches in a county that was known for long-tenured volleyball coaches.
Those two now are the elder statesmen of the coaching scene.
Harrison appeared to have the team to beat in last year’s Class 4A volleyball sectional but McCutcheon didn’t think so. The Mavericks, under first-year coach Sara Sutter, pulled off some upsets to claim the hardware.
Just as Marshall has won a sectional title in each season since he became a high school varsity head coach at West Lafayette (three straight titles), Sutter, a former WL assistant, would like to continue making that claim.
Harrison (Meghan Mohr) and Lafayette Jeff (Anna Haley) welcome new coaches, both of whom were standout collegiate players. They look to put their stamp on the area volleyball scene.
McCarter’s Central Catholic team is fresh off a state finals appearance and opens the season ranked second in the Class A IndianaPrepVolleyball.com poll.
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Of the seven Journal & Courier Players of the Year for fall sports last season, only two return: Harrison senior volleyball player Brynn Roy and Rensselaer football senior defensive lineman Dalton Souders.
With no shortage of talent in the area, they may have to outperform their outstanding junior year accomplishments to earn those honors again.