JAMIE BAKER / The Courier
VAN BURENS NOAH FREDERICK studies his lie before attempting a putt at last years Blanchard Valley Conference golf tournament at Country Acres Golf Club. Frederick is one of four returning letterwinners for Van Buren this season and was the conferences 2017 player of the year.

The road to the Blanchard Valley Conference golf championship runs through Van Buren.

At least it has for the last 11 years.

But the Black Knights graduated a pair of talented seniors from last year’s squad that not only won the BVC, but finished fourth in the Division III state tournament.

Don’t bet against Van Buren, though.

Even though coach Eric Heitkamp lost BVC medalist Hunter Foltz and BVC first teamer Brandon Wehrle, both of whom were four-year letterwinners, to graduation, the Black Knights have some top-notch golfers returning.

A trio of seniors, Connor Ohlrich, Noah Frederick and Quentin Weddell, return with state tournament experience to lead the Black Knights.

Ohlrich, who boasted a 40.05 average in 2017, already posted one solid finish when he was second individually in the Black Knights’ season opener at Heatherdowns Country Club on Saturday. Frederick (41.47 average) is the returning BVC Player of the Year while Weddell had a 42.4 average.

Add in junior returning letterwinner A.J. Overmyer (47.0), and the Black Knights should feature a potent lineup once again.

Winning a 12th straight BVC crown may not be easy — Liberty-Benton will try and make sure of that.

The Eagles should have a strong team themselves and flexed their muscles early by easily winning their own invitational on Monday.

Seniors Luke Sunderman (41.0) and Logan Kizer (43.0) are both back for the Eagles. Sunderman was a first team all-BVC player while Kizer netted a spot on the honorable mention team. Juniors Seth Lasiter (43.0) and Michael Kotey (43.0) also earned all-conference honors last season for L-B.

There’s some individual talent spread among the rest of the league as well.

Andrew Kuenzli is back for his sophomore season at Riverdale after qualifying for the state tournament as a freshman.

McComb’s Ross Wenzinger, a second team all-BVC selection last year, already has a win under his belt as he opened the season by taking medalist honors at the Elmwood Invitational.

Arlington’s William Bushong will be looking for a solid season for the Red Devils.

In addition there will be some new faces in the conference this fall and a new venue for the BVC tournament.

Pandora-Gilboa has reintstated its golf program after a hiatus of more than 20 years.

Steve Tadena and Eric Dysert will serve as the team’s coaches this fall as the Rockets begin with seven golfers out for the sport.

The league tournament will move from its longtime home at Country Acres Golf Club to the Findlay Country Club this season.

Arcadia

HEAD COACH: Ron Pahl (4th year, 19-29).

2017 DUAL MATCH RECORD/LEAGUE FINISH: 5-13/7th in Blanchard Valley Conference.

HOME COURSE: Lakeland Golf Course.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Wyatt Lucas, sr., 50.0 average; Casey Cramer, jr., 49; Will Recker, jr., 53.

TOP PROSPECTS: Kenny Durst, sr.; Andrea Dauterman, jr.; Joel Lininger, soph.; Aiden Tiell, soph.; Evan Lieurance, fr.; Logan Hartsel, fr.

NOTABLE: Returning players Lucas, Cramer and Recker could all average in the 40s for the Redskins this season. Pahl expects his two freshmen to also crack the varsity lineup.

Arlington

HEAD COACH: Trevor Bower (2nd year, 9-9).

2017 DUAL MATCH RECORD/LEAGUE FINISH: 9-9/5th in the Blanchard Valley Conference.

HOME COURSE: Sycamore Springs Golf Course.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Brayden Bushong, sr.; William Bushong, sr.; Garner Anderson, sr.; Emma Smith, sr.; Ewan Martin, jr.

TOP PROSPECTS: Austin Rausch, soph.; Logan Below, soph.; Cameron Haught, soph.; Kobie Parrish, soph.; Zack Setzler, soph.; Landon Smith, fr.; Derek Howard, fr.; Jaden Wells, fr.

NOTABLE: With three returning all-league golfers returning expect the Red Devils to move up in the BVC this fall. William Bushong earned second-team all-league honors and Brayden Bushong and Garner Anderson were honorable mention all-conference in 2017.

Hopewell-Loudon

HEAD COACH: Mike Rietzke (4th year).

MICHAEL BURWELL / The Courier
RIVERDALES ANDREW KUENZLI watches his tee shot as it goes into the hole for a hole-in-one at last years Division III district golf tournament at Stone Ridge Golf Club. Kuenzli is a returning Division III state qualifier.

2017 DUAL MATCH RECORD/LEAGUE FINISH: Not available/3rd in Blanchard Valley Conference.

HOME COURSE: Loudon Meadows Golf Course.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Cody Balliet, sr., 39.0 average.

TOP PROSPECTS: Owen Schumm, sr.; Layne Myers, soph.; Kiley Cline, soph.; Devin Falter, fr.; Walker Suter, fr.; Tyson Swanagan, fr.; Luke Graham, jr.

NOTABLE: After a third-place league finish a year ago, the Chieftains may be in rebuilding mode after losing a solid senior class. Balliet is back after posting a 39.0 average last year. Also of note, Kiley Cline will play with the boys team despite the Chieftains fielding a girls squad this season.

Leipsic

HEAD COACH: Kevin Brandt (11th year, 62-149).

2017 DUAL MATCH RECORD/LEAGUE FINISH: 2-16/9th in Blanchard Valley Conference; 5th in Putnam County League.

HOME COURSE: Pike Run Golf Course.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Mason Tadena, jr., 50.0 average; Brock Lammers, jr., 57.0; Eli Wueller, jr., 57.0; Ben Haselman, jr.,; Jaden Siefker, soph., 59.0; Alex Gerdeman, soph., 70.

TOP PROSPECTS: Eric Williamson, sr.; Alex Hernandez, jr.; Mason Brandt, fr.

NOTABLE: Brandt’s Vikings are young but experienced. Six players return and there are no seniors on the roster. Expect continued improvement from Leipsic this season.

Liberty-Benton

HEAD COACH: Steve Williman (18th year).

2017 DUAL MATCH RECORD/LEAGUE FINISH: 11-2/2nd in Blanchard Valley Conference.

HOME COURSE: Sycamore Springs Golf Course.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Patrick Streacker, soph., 45 average; Noah Brand, soph., 43; Seth Lasiter, jr., 43; Michael Kotey, jr., 43; Logan Kizer, sr., 43; Luke Sunderman, sr., 41; Kiana Robinson, soph., 49.

TOP PROSPECTS: Grant Umbs, sr.; Nic Petrella, sr.; Brice McDaniel, fr.; Anthony Wilcox, fr.; Joe Gerken, fr.; Austin Hanni Wells, fr.; Jacob Pressel, fr.; Owen Hendricks, fr.; Easton Kurtz, fr., Ben Christiansen, fr.

NOTABLE: It’s a young but deep and experienced team at Liberty-Benton this season. Sunderman was a first-team all-conference selection while Lasiter was a second teamer. Kizer and Kotey made the BVC’s honorable mention list.

McComb

HEAD COACH: Neil Schaublin (16th year).

2017 DUAL MATCH RECORD/LEAGUE FINISH: 109-96/3rd in Blanchard Valley Conference.

HOME COURSE: Shady Acres Golf Course.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Nate Bishop, jr., 51.0 average; Jake Simons, sr., 44 average; Allen Thepsourinthone, sr., 47.0; Ross Wenzinger, sr., 39.0.

TOP PROSPECTS: David Brandenburg, sr.; Mason Pierce, soph.; Zach Romero, fr.

NOTABLE: The Panthers have a definite No. 1 golfer this season in second-team all-BVC and honorable mention all-district selection Ross Wenzinger. He could push for a spot in the OHSAA Division III state tournament. The Panthers have a solid top four golfers back but are lacking overall depth.

North Baltimore

HEAD COACH: Kathi Bucher (3rd year).

2017 DUAL MATCH RECORD/LEAGUE FINISH: 8-9/5th in Blanchard Valley Conference.

HOME COURSE: Birch Run Golf Course.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Ellias Burleson, sr., 49.0 average; Jaden Bucher, jr., 46.0; Hunter Baker, soph., 50.0; Hunter Vogelson, jr.

TOP PROSPECTS: Malaki Peyton-Hobbs, soph.

NOTABLE: Bucher and Baker netted honorable mention all-BVC honors for the Tigers last season.

Pandora-Gilboa

HEAD COACH: Steve Tadena & Eric Dysert (1st year).

2017 DUAL MATCH RECORD/LEAGUE FINISH: First-year program.

HOME COURSE: Pike Run Golf Course.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: None.

TOP PROSPECTS: Kaleb Miller, jr.; Alex Ricker, jr.; Jacob Suter, soph.; Trey Hovest, soph.; Seth Tadena, fr.; Eli Huffman, fr.; Hailey Dysert, fr.

NOTABLE: P-G’s players are young, but eager to play, according to Tadena as the school fields a golf team for the first time in more than 20 years.

Riverdale

HEAD COACH: Mark Ruggles (18th year).

2017 DUAL MATCH RECORD/LEAGUE FINISH: 7-11/8th Blanchard Valley Conference.

HOME COURSE: Sycamore Springs Golf Course.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Andrew Kuenzli, soph., 39.0 average; Christian Vasquez, sr., 58.0; Curtis Tracy, jr., 54.0; Jacob Tackett, sr., 57.0; Rease Haley, soph., 56.0; Justin Hartman, sr., 59.0.

TOP PROSPECTS: Tyler Clark, soph.

NOTABLE: Riverdale did not contend for a BVC title last season. But the Falcons feature one of the area’s best young golfers in Kuenzli. Kuenzli not only earned first-team all-BVC honors as a freshman, but competed in the Division III state meet as well, puncuating a state-qualifying score in the district tournament with a hole-in-one at the Stone Ridge Golf Club in Bowling Green.

Van Buren

HEAD COACH: Eric Heitkamp (16th year, 149-16).

2017 DUAL MATCH RECORD/LEAGUE FINISH: 9-0/Blanchard Valley Conference champs.

HOME COURSE: Red Hawk Run Golf Course.

RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Connor Ohlrich, sr., 40.05 average; Noah Frederick, sr., 41.47; Quentin Weddell, sr., 42.40; A.J. Overmyer, jr., 47.

TOP PROSPECTS: Dalton Swope, jr., 55.14; Grayson Temple, jr., 49.3; Lucas Badertscher, jr., 55.8; Travis Neumeister, soph., 50.17; Max Greenawalt, soph., 51; Kaleb Bishop, soph., 58; Casey McCauley, jr.; Adam McKinniss, soph.; Carson Goble, jr.; Ethan Johnson, soph.; Alan Woodall, fr.; Ryan Strapp, fr.; Hayden Carr, fr.; Justin Overmyer, fr.; Anthony Huffman, fr.

NOTABLE: The Black Knights lost a talented senior class but return three of their top six golfers from last year’s team that won the school’s 12th straight BVC title and advanced to the Division III state meet for the eighth straight year. The past three years, Van Buren has been fourth or higher in the final state standings.

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