CLAYTON — After winning only one division match and four overall last season, the Northmont Boys Varsity Golf Team has nowhere to go but up.
This year’s team will be led by five seniors with eight returning players and six incoming freshmen. Two players Coach Nathan Hannahan says will be competing for varsity spots are senior Landon Hill and freshman Alec Avdakov who have battling for the sixth spot.
“Cole Stephens, a sophomore, is another player we are hoping will earn a varsity spot by the end of the season,” Hannahan said. “He will be a solid contributor to the junior varsity all season as the number two player behind Hill.”
Varsity players to watch include seniors Shawn Richards and Luke Knapke.
“Richards and Knapke have really excelled so far this season,” Hannahan said.
Richards is entering his fourth season on varsity and Knapke is entering his third season on varsity. Senior Ben Sage has also played quite a bit of varsity and senior Wesley Kincaid is entering his second season on varsity.
“We are top heavy with seniors this year and we are relying on their experience to carry us through and to give us success,” Hannahan noted. “We’ve been very successful so far this year. I feel we have a good chance of finishing in the top half of the Greater Western Ohio Conference this year.”
Hannahan acknowledged how tough it is to compete against schools from the southern Miami Valley, as those schools seem to reload their talent year after year due to the number of players available. Those schools, Centerville, Beavercreek and Springboro, have large numbers of players that come out for their golf teams each year.
“It’s hard to compete with Centerville and Springboro because it seems they are always reloading their lineups,” he noted. “Even in down years they have very successful teams.”
All that aside, Northmont has more experience this season and therefore more talent on which to build its success.
“Instead of having one stud player to rely on in order to compete with Centerville or Beavercreek, what we have is four of five guys that can all play at about the same level as one another, so our shot averages have been about with one stroke from player to player,” Hannahan said. “Richards is our clear leader right now with a stroke average below 42. Knapke, Kincaid and sophomore Drew Johnson is starting the year on varsity and has really improved since our first match of the season. I look forward to a lot of great things from Johnson.”
Avdakov started the season with personal best scores four days in a row. He went from shooting in the 90s in tryouts to shooting an 84 at Pipestone during the Miamisburg Invitational two weeks ago.
“I expect big things from Avdakov in the future and I am glad to see him getting some varsity experience as a freshman,” Hannahan said. “We are going to lean on our seniors but it is awesome to have Johnson shooting in the 80s in our last three tournaments. For a sophomore that is pretty great. He is putting the time and work in to become a solid player.”
Hannahan noted that he has a lot of dedicated players on the team this year that have been working hard to improve their game.
“We are looking for success from our senior leaders this year and hopefully this group of younger players will be able to help us out next year. Our junior varsity team is currently undefeated,” Hannahan added.
Reach Ron Nunnari at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind