St. Xavier will begin the season without its top player and 2013 Enquirer and GCL Player of the Year, Kirran Magowan, who is likely out until late August.
Magowan is dealing with a knee injury and Kepley is will to deal without his top player for as long as it takes to get him back to 100 percent.
“We are more concerned about Kirran’s long-team well being, therefore in the short run he’s not going to play or do anything to jeopardize his long-term capabilities,” the coach said. “The knee injury is taking longer than expected and we hope for him to be ready to play by the time the official GCL season starts which is in late August.”
In his place will be senior Ben Keating, the cousin of Brendan Keating who finished 10th at state last season and helped the Bombers to a third-place finish as a team.
“Ben was in our top 12 last year and is a strong player who is capable of going very low,” Kepley said. “He’s had numerous sub-par rounds, so one of the big things is developing his consistency. He’s a streaky player, but he can really go low.”
Look for junior, twin brothers Paul and Dominic Marricocchi, along with juniors Ben Wright – the brother of Mason High School star and current University of Wake Forest golfer, Emily Wright – and David Haney to round out the top five for the defending GCL champion Bombers.
Kepley has some young talent in the pipeline as well in sophomores Joey McCarthy, Zachary Pavlin and Alex Wolf, along with freshmen Michael Prebles and Cameron Frazier. McCarthy is coming of a 23rd-place finish at the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships in the 14-15 year old age bracket, while Pavlin was the scoring leader last year on junior varsity as a freshman.
“It’s exciting because the amount of growth they have at this point is unlimited,” Kepley said of his youngsters. “We don’t know how good they can get. The younger players really get on board with the program and what we’re trying to do and then we get to see them for the next three or four years. Normally the top players only get one or two years to be in the limelight at St. X, so hopefully the guys can gel and that can make us really good for the next three or four years.”
La Salle High School begins a new era as well, as Mike Erb takes over as coach for Jon Feldkamp, who held the position for the past 10 years.
Erb is handed one of the best golfers in the state in senior Daniel Wetterich, who finished 15th at the OHSAA Division I state tournament last season. While Wetterich’s talent is obvious, it’s what he does behind the scenes that have really impressed his new coach.
“Just watching him play you know he wants to make his teammates better,” Erb said. “Daniel is a team player. When I put it up to vote about how we were going to pick a team captain they said, ‘coach, there’s nobody else, there’s no other vote; it’s Daniel.’”
“He’s been very helpful. He’s helped me help the other players on the course and manage their game. He’s like a third coach.”
The two-time first-team All-Greater Catholic League South player likes where he and his teammates are at mentally heading into the season despite Wetterich not teeing it up with the Lancers until after he competes in the Junior PLAYERS Championship Aug. 28-Sept. 1 at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Verda Beach, Fla.
“I’m feeling pretty good and I feel like we’re going to have a really good season this year,” he said.
Look for senior Jayson Heidemann and his brother, junior Brady Heidemann, to be two of the top players on the team, along with seniors Zach Smith and Mitch Otten. The player to watch will be junior Will Efkeman, who after taking his coaches advice in the offseason has improved his game by seven to eight strokes, according to his coach, and could be exactly what the Lancers need to propel them to the top of the GCL.