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Area Girls Golf Preview: Regional qualifiers look to take next step

St. Wendelin's Makenzie McAfee.

St. Wendelin’s Makenzie McAfee follows through on a shot at Monday’s Elmwood Royal Invitational at Birch Run Golf Course in North Baltimore. (Photo by Matthias Leguire)

Girls golf teams from Elmwood, North Baltimore and Van Buren are looking for big things again this season.

Last year all three teams qualified for the Division II regional tournament.

Senior Erin Neall, junior Carlee Schmelzer and sophomore Zoie Nieto are back from Van Buren’s team that won a sectional title last season.

North Baltimore also has a strong returning cast including senior three-time district qualifier Rachel Peters and junior Kelcie Bean, who medaled in the Tigers’ first match of the season.

Junior Alexis Miller is the top returnee at Elmwood. Seniors Heather Ickes and Maggie Tuite are also back for the Royals, who will be trying to defend their title in the Northern Buckeye Conference.

Hopewell-Loudon will also field a full girls team this season as Tony Swanagan takes the reins as head coach.

Liberty-Benton’s Kiera Robinson and Mohawk’s Katelynn Kinley are area individuals to watch. Both are returning district tournament qualifiers.

Ada
HEAD COACH: Jonathan Lischak & Jason Campbell (2nd year).
2013 RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available.
HOME COURSE: Bluffton Golf Club.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: None.
TOP PROSPECTS: Taylor Ramey, soph.; Kennedy Rayl, soph.
NOTABLE: Two newcomers make up Ada’s girls golf team this fall. Unless there are a few late arrivals when school starts the Bulldogs won’t be able to qualify for team scoring this season.

Elmwood
HEAD COACH: Kyle McKibben (1st year).
2013 CONFERENCE FINISH: 12-2/Northern Buckeye Conference champs.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Heather Ickes, sr., 59.8 average; Maggie Tuite, sr., 68.2; Alexis Miller, jr., 50.5.
TOP PROSPECTS: Makayla Riehl, fr.; Taylor Merritt, fr.; Skye Combs, soph.; Michaela Shinew, jr.; Katie Benedict, jr.; Allie Hummel, sr.
NOTABLE: Royals are out to defend their league crown in the NBC. Alexis Miller is the team’s top returnee after earning first-team all-league honors as a sophomore. Ickes was honorable mention all-league last fall.

Hopewell-Loudon
HEAD COACH: Tony Swanagan (1st year).
2013 RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: First-year program.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: None.
TOP PROSPECTS: Sam Gosche, sr.; Abby Park, sr.; Gabby Gregg, soph.; Kayla Siebenaller, soph.; Jenna Huffman, fr.
NOTABLE: A full girls golf team is back at Hopewell-Loudon after a three-year hiatus. Sam Gosche is the lone veteran on the team having played for the Chieftains each of the last four seasons.

Mohawk
HEAD COACH: Jake Molyet (1st year).
2013 RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available.
HOME COURSE: Lincoln Hills Golf Course.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Katelynn Kinley, sr.; Chelsea Clinger, sr.
TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.
NOTABLE: A pair of seniors return for the Warriors this fall. Kinley is back for her senior year after qualifying for the Division III regional tournament as an individual last fall.

North Baltimore
HEAD COACH: Aaron Frankart (1st year).
2013 RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: Not available.
HOME COURSE: Birch Run Golf Course.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kelcie Bean, jr.; Rachel Peters, sr.; Morgan Rose, jr.; Lindsay Davis, sr.; Alexis Julien, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Hanna Rose, fr.
NOTABLE: Peters is a three-time district qualifiers for the Tigers, who qualified for regionals as a team last season. Kelcie Bean is already off to a fast start for North Baltimore earning medalist honors in the team’s first match of the year with a 41.

Van Buren
HEAD COACH: Rhonda Nye.
2013 RECORD/CONFERENCE FINISH: 20-7, NWOGGL champs.
HOME COURSE: Red Hawk Run Golf Course.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Erin Neall, sr.; Carlee Schmelzer, jr.; Ashley Franklin soph.; Zoie Nieto, soph.; Lydia Smith, soph.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kialynne Bland, soph.; Sarah Franks, soph.; Brittany Arnold, soph.; Morgan Jackson, fr.; Madelyn Badertscher, fr.; Cheyenne Potteiger, fr.; Maria Trusty, fr.
NOTABLE: Neall, a state qualifier in 2011, is the senior veteran on a young and talented tream. Neall had the second lowest stroke average in the NWOGGL last season and Nieto, who attended the Dana Rader Golf School in Charlotte, N.C., where she tutered under the direction of Findlay native and former LPGA player Julie Cole, was the NWOGGL Rookie of the Year in 2013. Van Buren returns five all-league golfers: Neall and Schmelzer were first-team all-league last fall, Nieto and Franklin were second-team, and Smith received honorble mention recognition.

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