GOLF: Can Blue Bombers do it again?
Palmerton returns several key players - including Times News/Lehigh Valley Health Network Golfer of the Year Tyler Hager - from a team that enjoyed remarkable success with a first-ever District 11 title a season ago. The program appears primed to continue its run this fall.
SAFETY FIRST ... While each team is eager to start the season, they know proper precautions must be taken in order for matches to take place. “I think playing golf, we’re in a pretty safe environment, as long as you keep your distance on the course,” said Jim Thorpe coach Mike Chapman. “I talked to my kids already about wearing their mask, and if they want to wear them the can while they’re playing. If they want to take them off while they’re playing, they can. Once the round is over, or match is over, or anything else, they have to put those back on. We talked about leaving the pin in (the hole); same thing with kind of raking the bunkers with their feet. And social distancing, not touching other kids’ clubs , just things along those lines. And they pretty much understand what to do and how to stay safe.”
HOME COOKING ... Chapman praised the team’s home course at Jack Frost, a facility that is readily available to the school’s players when they want to use it. “The kids are allowed to play and use the practice facilities at Jack Frost all year long,” he said. “So we didn’t really schedule any summer workouts, but I told the kids to take advantage of Jack Frost. It’s there to use all year long, pretty much free of charge.”
Jim Thorpe is entering its third season using the facilities at Jack Frost.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER ... While Chapman lost a few potential contributors for the season over the summer, he is excited about the group that will be playing this fall. “We have eight kids,” said Chapman. “Eddie Weaver, who is going to be a junior this year. He played No. 1 for me last year, so right now I have him slotted in to play in that spot again this year. I know he took full advantage of Jack Frost. He’s been out playing golf a lot this summer, so I’m excited to see the improvement and jump that he’s going to make from last year to this year.”
CHIPPING IN ... In addition to Weaver, Chapman is also looking to Brydon Gray (sophomore), Connor Rodgers (senior), James Costlow (junior) and Michael Carroll (senior) to contribute on a regular basis this season.
BACK FOR MORE ... Junior Jack Lorenz placed second at the Schuylkill League golf championships last season, while the Tribe placed fourth overall in the team classification. They’ll be looking for even better results this season. “Making it to the league championships, it’s been a few years since Lehighton has done that. So that was cool,” said head coach Mark Maholick. “Obviously, getting back to that again would be very important, and it’s absolutely a goal. There’s no reason that we shouldn’t, because the kids have gotten better.”
LEADING THE CHARGE ... Maholick is excited to see Lorenz continue his upward trajectory. “He’s been playing a ton of golf,” said Maholick. “And he’s gotten better, and he had a pretty good year last year. And I know he’s really looking forward to it. People definitely see and recognize the fact that he works hard. And they see the results of his hard work, so he really leads by example.”
TRIBE PRIDE ... Maholick also pointed to senior Grant Schaeffer as one of the team’s leaders this season. “He’a a super kid, and he’s a great leader on our team just by his attitude,” said Maholick. “Kids really look to him and he’s kind of a spokesperson and he definitely has taken on some of that leadership role as well. He leads some of the get-togethers with the kids, some of the extra stuff, even transportation. He’s been a big helper.”
KEY CONTRIBUTORS ... In addition to Lorenz and Schaeffer, juniors Aaron Miller and Kurtis Gustafson and sophomore Trey Spring will play big roles in the team’s success this season, though Maholick always keeps things in perspective. “We communicate with each other a lot, and we keep everything as positive as we can,” said Maholick. “Golf beats up the best players in the world, so if you let the mental part get away from you, then it’s a difficult game to master. It’s a lifelong strategy to master it, and no one ever does.”
TEAM LEADERS ... Veteran head coach Len Brylewski will be counting on Carl Moyer, Mason Mazurkiwecz, Walter Pavlik, Alex Kokosky, Ryan Drumheller and Olivia Erickson to guide the Colts this season. “It’s basically the same group I had last year,” the coach said. “So we’ll really be leaning on them to take another step forward this season and lead the way.”
HELPING HAND ... Brylewski will be assisted this season by Duane Zeleniak.
KEY LOSS ... Marian will have to replace Emily Reaman, who finished second to Pottsville’s Victoria Fuss for the Schuylkill League girls’ title. In addition to Reaman, Marian also saw Bella Lesante place fifth overall.
HOME TURF ... Marian will play its home matches at Mountain Valley Golf Course in Barnesville this season.
MOVING ON, BUT STAYING CONNECTED … Gabby Smalley, Luke Hallman, Joe Frey and Jake Dellicker won’t be seen on the links as a member of the Tigers’ squad. They all have graduated. “Luke and Joe have kind of been hanging around practice a little bit, and even over the summer, lending support and advice to not only the new team members but the ones that were on the team last year,” Northwestern head coach Tim Miller said.
RETURNING PACK … Seniors Tyler Stasko and Ryan Kensinger lead a returning pack of Tigers from last year’s 6-7 team. Following right behind to make things happen this season are a trio of juniors – Nathan Knerr, Ethan Bailey and Nick Scott.
YOUTH MOVEMENT … Entering his 10th season with the program, Miller will looking to junior Ethan Lazzarus, sophomores Mary Frey and Morgan LaBuda, and freshman Stone Sosnovik to contribute.
BEST KIND OF STRENGTH … Miller is having as much fun on the links right now as his Tigers are, and he pointed out it is simply because they’re all a really good bunch of young adults to work with.
MORE IMPORTANTLY … “I’m not emphasizing wins and losses,” Miller said. “I always tell the kids that your number one responsibility, ‘When you are playing, and you’re representing Northwestern Lehigh High School, people will remember you for what kind of person you were to play with, not the score you shot.’ This is more about kind of maturing as young ladies and gentlemen, and I’m more interested in them learning the game of golf, and being good sportsmen.”
SHOES TO FILL … Logan Kresge, Mason Kistler, Josh Mooney and Matt Lalik are the missing links this season from last year’s historical Bomber squad, which compiled a 16-0 record in the Colonial League. and a 22-1 overall record. The Bombers also won a first-ever District 11 Class 2A championship and qualfied for the PIAA State playoffs.
SUCCESS BREEDS … The memorable 2019 season the Bombers had has made an impact on the future of the Bombers’ golf program. This year Palmerton co-coaches Alex Knoll and Mike Brennan welcome a total of 24 golfers.
CARRY ON … Back to try and pick up from where the Bombers left off a year ago are seniors Derek Rea and Jacob Sutton, junior Dominic Kintz, and sophomores Tyler Hager, Connor Reinhard and Josh Suto. Other golfers who could contribute this season are Connor Beahm (Jr.) and Nathan Steinmetz (So.).
FLY BOMBERS FLY … Don’t expect anything but the best again this year. Knoll hinted the Bombers are ready to make it another season for the record books. Leading the way is Hager (last year’s Times News Golfer of the Year). He will get plenty of support from Reinhard, Rea, Suto and Kintz. “I don’t expect to fall off from what we accomplish last year. And, I think our golfers understand that. And, they have been working hard to show that,” said Knoll.
SIMPLY ESCTATIC … Knoll stated his Bombers are just glad to be able to get back out there playing the sport they all love. “I think it’s great for the kids to get a chance to be out there, and to be a part of a school sanctioned activity and bring some normalcy back to their lives,” said Knoll, who is in his fifth season with the Bombers.
30-SOMETHING … Head coach Steve Krechel has been a mainstay within the Bears’ golf program. Krechel enters his 30th season as coach and is hoping the Bears can build off an 8-9 record from a year ago.
HITTING THE LINKS … Back for another season for the Bears are a talented group. Leading the way is returning District 11 second place finisher and Regional State qualifier Mary Scully. Other key players are seniors Steven Ottman and Nico Ferrara, along with junior Dan Sadler. “The team is excited to get out and play,” Krechel said. “Four returning starters with experience is very helpful in guiding this team in the right direction.”
NOT A LOT OF DEPTH … The numbers are low for the Bears this season as there are only a total of 12 golfers out for the team. Krechel is looking for some young talent to help rebuild the program as six out of the dozen Bears are in their last year. The team does have four freshmen in Ben Bush, Aidan Krock, Peterf Makrides and Adam McConnell.
COVID PRECAUTIONS … “The biggest concern I have for this year is keeping the kids safe and healthy,” Krechel said. “We are taking precautions with COVID but there are so many unknowns. But in general, it’s great to get outside and play golf. The kids need a positive outlet for some of their time.”
EASING INTO IT ... Tamaqua head coach Matt Stine is eager to see his team tee off this season, an activity the Blue Raiders can do together, while also remaining apart. “Overall, so far so good,” said Stine. “Obviously, we’re playing in a strange time. But we’ve been able to have some voluntary golf workouts throughout the summer and they’ve been well attended. I think, myself included, the team is looking to get out of the house, do something and be active. And thankfully, golf lends itself to quite well to social distancing and the like.”
LEADING THE WAY ... Stine pointed to the team’s upperclassmen to guide the team this season. “Makenna Miller is a returning starter and Brady Miller is as well,” Stine said of the seniors. “They’ve come along nicely over the last two years. And now they’re going to get a chance to be two of the leaders on the team.”
PIECES OF THE PUZZLE ... The Blue Raiders will also be looking to several other key returnees to play a big role this season. “We have three returning starters that are going to be juniors in Nick Behr, Cole Ackerman and Trent Schlecht,” said Stine. “And then Katie Miller, who is going to be a sophomore and was with us last year. And we have two new players, Parker Oswald and Peter McGlinchey, who have been coming to summer workouts and are really showing improvement. It’s a nice mix, both across the grade level and as far as experience on the team goes, as well.”
LOOKING AHEAD ... Stine knows if his team, which plays its home matches at Mountain Valley, improves throughout the season, the results will take care of themselves. “I think we’ll be competitive, and I think that my main objective for them is to get better, to learn the game the right way, and enjoy themselves while they’re out here,” said Stine. “I’ve been lucky enough to coach a number of them in the past and I’m very encouraged by what I’m seeing from them.”
STAYING READY, STAYING SAFE ... Despite the uncertainty surrounding the season, fifth-year head coach Brian Kaminski noted that the Wreckers continued to prepare regardless of the circumstances.
The summer was pretty active for all of the golfers,” he said. “Most played on a regular basis, with many of the kids playing with the USGLL in Hazleton. Right now we are doing what we need to in order to stay safe. Everyone is masked when needed and we are practicing 2020 golf etiquette with pins in and social distance a must.”
GOAL SETTING ...After posting a 5-6 overall record and 4-6 mark in the Schuylkill League a year ago, Kaminski, who is assisted by Mike Nemshick, is hoping the squad can take a big step forward this season.
“To be honest our team goal is a Division 2 title,” he said. “Our team has a lot of experience coming back. Ben Ramirez will be our No. 1 going into the season and will be one of the better golfers in Division 2. Our seniors come in with a lot of varsity experience and are driving for the first division title for the Wrecker Golf Team in quite a while. Individually, we want to see continued improvement with each of the golfers and continue to enjoy the game and keep getting better every time they are on the course.”
COMING BACK ... In addition to Ramirez, Weatherly will be counting on seniors Jake Solonoski, Ethan Broskoskie and Antonio Colecio, as well as sophomores Jack Nemshick, Madison VonFrish and Owen VonFrish, and freshman Tyler Hinkle to contribute this season.