MONFORT HEIGHTS – Over 18 holes, a golfer takes thousands of strides, traversing the course in search of a low number. At La Salle High School, the Lancers have made their strides in the right direction, and those strides paired with an unmistakable energy for the game have second-year head coach Mike Erb pleased with his team early on.
La Salle is led by senior captain Will Efkeman, an individual Division I state qualifier last season. With Efkeman, the scoring will depend on senior Brady Heidemann, a second-team Greater Catholic League South selection last year, and junior assistant captain Patrick Miller. Junior Josh Otten has been impressive, too. Erb said of Otten, “he’s (added) some great length (to his game) and has improved dramatically.”
Last season’s younger players “have made huge improvements” this season, said Erb.
“These kids, this team, they play together almost everyday. They’ve made tee times over the summer, throughout the winter and early spring, they’re playing together — that’s what excites me.”
Watching Efkeman compete at state last season, Erb said he observed that “all the teams who finished in the top 5, their short game was absolutely phenomenal. If a player missed a green, he usually got up and down to save par. That’s the area I’m stressing with this team this year.”
Erb added they’ve been devoting a large portion of every practice to the short game.
Colerain High School’s boys golf team lost four seniors to graduation, two of whom were the Cardinals’ top two players a season ago. Third-year coach Craig Miller likes the talent on the course this year for the Cardinals.
Miller said he has a powerful junior class.
“I’ll be starting five juniors pretty consistently,” said Miller. Look for juniors Nathan Lorenz, already a three-year varsity player, Joe Snider, Jacob Wells and Nathan Riddle.
“I’ve got four, maybe five (juniors) who when they play a good round can shoot in the 30s. If we can get them all playing well together and produce those scores on the same day, there’s a lot of team we can compete against and beat, especially in our league,” Miller said. “Our goal is always to finish in the top half of the Greater Miami Conference — for us, that’s a pretty big accomplishment.”
Miller added he thinks Colerain could have “two or three” guys competing for the district tournament.
The focus, thus far, for Miller’s group has been “100 yards and in, basically short game.”
Miller said: “Most of the guys can hit the ball pretty well, but the problem is when they don’t score it’s because they don’t chip and putt well … if they’re gonna score, they have to have really good short games.”
Northwest had two golfers who were among the top 15 in scoring average last year in Matt Paluga and Jake Fishburn.
Paluga averaged 40.48 per nine holes, the Southwest Ohio Conference’s third-lowest average. Fishburn chipped in with a 46.48 average. However, the Knights have to fill some holes with a group of golfers who were cutting their teeth last year.
Northwest is coached by Chris Wagner.
Youth doesn’t always translate onto the golf course. But, Roger Bacon High School’s hoping last year’s youth evolves to this year’s experience.
Jerry Bockhold, the Spartans’ golf coach for the last 13 years, said he thinks his team will be “a little better” this season. Bockhold said they only had 10 kids sign up for golf this year, a shift from Bockhold’s early years coaching when he said they would have a lot more golfers.
Three starters return this year in senior Sam Hoefling, a four-year varsity player, sophomore Daniel Michaels and junior Vaughn Steele. Bockhold said there’s also two freshman — Thomas Dunn and Jonathon Myers — who look to have some potential.
“Sam Hoefling is probably a guy who can shoot high 30s, low 40s on a consistent basis … hopefully it will rub off on other kids,” Bockhold said. “I think every year at this time, my concern … is newcomers who come in — nerves are part of what they struggle with. We practice putting a lot cause that’s where you’re gonna score.”
It would be foolish to overlook St. Xavier High School’s golf team. Year in and out, St. X proves its grit on the golf course. This year’s no exception. The Bombers return all their starters from last season, a year in which they won their second straight district champions and made another run at state.
St. Xavier sixth year head coach Alex Kepley said “everyone’s back and more.” Returning for Kepley, from what he calls the “championship group,” or the Bombers’ top group are senior and three-year varsity starter Domenic Maricocchi, senior four-year varsity starter Kirran Magowan, junior Joey McCarthy, senior three-year starter Paul Maricocchi and sophomore Cameron Frazier.
It’s a lineup with a remarkable amount of experience. Magowan was first-team All-GCL South last season, while Frazier, McCarthy and Domenic were second team selections. They’re a solid core on a roster highlighted by its depth.
“It’s exciting, but also a challenge in that there are literally 12 guys who could contend for our championship group,” said Kepley, adding there are six sophomores and a freshman who are in contention because of their strong play.
The Bombers also have senior David Haney, juniors Alex Wolf and Zachary Pavlin who are capable of scoring low.
“Anyone (on our team) can beat anyone on any given day,” said Kepley. “My challenge is hopefully instilling the confidence and picking people who are gonna be able to get it done.
Players to watch
Will Efkeman, La Salle: The senior captain was an individual Division I state qualifier last season.
Nathan Lorenz, Colerain: The junior is a three-year varsity player.
Sam Hoefling, Roger Bacon: The senior is a four-year starter for the Spartans.
Kirran Magowan, St. Xavier: The senior is a four-year varsity starter and was first-team All-GCL last season.
Aug. 22: Moeller Invitational at Walden Pond
Aug. 27: La Salle, Elder, St. X, Moeller at Clovernook CC, 4 p.m.
Oct. 3: Best of the West tournament (Elder, La Salle, Colerain, Oak Hills) at Miami Whitewater