By Josh Brown
CLAYTON — For the Troy boys golf team, the path to a successful Greater Western Ohio Conference North Division title defense goes through Butler.
Thursday, the Trojans took the first step down that path — even if it was an unofficial one.
Troy (2-0) turned in a consistent effort up and down the lineup Thursday — something coach Mark Evilsizor expects to be something of a trend throughout the season — beating the rival Aviators on a fifth-score tiebreaker to sweep a tri-match at Moss Creek by matching Butler’s 162 and beating Northmont’s 170.
Troy Moore was medalist on the day with a 36, Dalton Cascaden shot 39, Grant Kasler shot 43 and Peyton Wheat, Matt Monnin and Nate Uhlenbrock all shot 44 — with Butler’s fifth score being a 48 in a match that did not count toward the league standings but was sure to give the Trojans an early confidence boost.
“We knew coming into the season we’d have good competition amongst ourselves,” Evilsizor said. “Troy (Moore) played extremely well today with a birdie, a bogey and the rest pars. It was out first match, so there was some nerves. But overall, I was pleased with how we played. We were very consistent.”
And that should be the name of the game for the Trojans this season.
“I’m not sure we truly have a No. 1 guy this year,” Evilsizor said. “Last year, Connor Super was our clear No. 1. But this year it could be a rotating position — and that’s a good problem to have.”
The team’s three seniors — Cascaden, Kasler and Monnin — all have plenty of experience after last year’s campaign, while the junior Moore is looking to bounce back from a year hampered by injuries.
“Troy expects himself to play well,” Evilsizor said. “He was hurt most of last year, with an average of 42 despite a hurt knee. This is a year where he could do some real damage on the course.
“Dalton was the only golfer last year whose score counted toward the team score in every match we played. He’s extremely consistent. And Grant is a golf junkie. He and Troy have probably played the most golf out of anybody on the team. He’s developed into a really consistent player. He’s worked hard at his game and earned where he is this year.”
And with freshman Uhlenbrock and a transfer from last year’s state champion Oakwood where he played JV, sophomore Wheat, thrown into the mix, anyone’s scores could end up being the winning ones this year — as was the case Thursday.
“Similar to last year, we’re not sure where our four scores will come from. Anyone’s could count on any given day,” Evilsizor said. “Matt has contributed at times, with a fifth-score tiebreaker in a division match against Butler last year obviously being the biggest one. I expect him to post good scores when we really need it.”
And when it comes to the GWOC North, Evilsizor thinks that it’ll come down to Troy and Butler again.
“On paper, it’s Butler and us,” he said. “Sidney is scraping together a team, Piqua’s numbers are going up but they’re still working on it, Greenville lost its best scorer. For the most part, it’ll be Butler and us.
“Butler has a freshman that’s going to be good — and he shot a 38 today and was second place. They’re still very good even though they lost a couple kids. But they’ll be top-four heavy, and hopefully that will be an advantage for us.”
Troy’s first official test of the season comes today at Beechwood Golf Course in the preseason GWOC Tournament.
“That was one of our problems last year, we struggled in 18-hole matches,” Evilsizor said. “So we added a few more of them. Three of our four matches next week are invitationals. And at the pre-GWOC tomorrow, Beavercreek is in our foursome — one of the best teams in the area. We want to see if our game travels. We want to be able to compete against the best schools at the toughest courses and get wins, not just show up.
“We had a summer golf league, and we played at a lot of those courses we’ll need to know this year. We had a lot of fun, and we’ve got really good team chemistry this season. The kids all want to help each other out.”
And they’ve already showed that.
* Miami East
The Vikings are bringing back a host of talent in Terry Henley’s second year as coach — a year after seeing plenty of consistent performances up and down the lineup.
“Last year, each of our top six players were team medalist in our matches at least twice, and only a 2.4-stroke average separated them at season’s end,” Henley said. “That shows a balance in performance — and five of those players are returning this year, with only one as a senior.”
Senior Ryan Bergman and junior Scot Kirby will be looking to break some school records this season if the summer is any indication. Kirby qualified for the district tournament last year as a sophomore. Juniors Kley Karadak and Devyn Carson also return, and sophomore Dylan Martinez started as a freshman last year. Fellow sophomores Mitchell Vernon and Walker Henley were the two top JV players last year, and junior Ryan Haney will also vie for playing time.
After winning only one match in 2011 and ‘12, Miami East missed out on a Cross County Conference title by one stroke on a tiebreaker last year and missed out on a team trip to district by two strokes. With the experience under their belts now, the Vikings are poised to do big things this year.
“We’ve matured and will be a dominant team because of our depth, having eight players capable of breaking into the 70s by season’s end,” Henley said. “Our prospects are excellent, and we’ve certainly set our goals pretty high.”
The Bethel Bees are bringing back four of their top six players from a year ago, and they’re looking to finish in the upper half of the Cross County Conference this year.
Leading the way this year will be junior Tyler Brookhart, already a two-year letterman, and Nick Lightcap and Connor Hockett are each back for their second year. Sophomore Tyler Weinert was first team All-CCC as a freshman last season and is looking to improve even more. Senior Kevin Smith and junior Seth Shofner will look to provide depth.
“With the experience we have back and hopefully with the improvement of all the players, we hope to compete in the upper half of the CCC,” Bethel coach Brett Brookhart said. “We would also like to reach our goal of qualifying for the district tournament.”
Newton was a surprise contender by season’s end last year, finishing seventh in the CCC but grabbing a runner-up finish at the sectional tournament earning and a team trip to district. This year, the Indians want that kind of success from beginning to end.
Juniors Brock Jamison, Wade Ferrell and Donovan Osceola all return from a team that lost only one senior, and sophomore Milan Bess returns, as well.
“Having three returning juniors will be a great asset for our team,” Newton coach Randall Jamison said. “We will be trying to find that fourth scorer. We look forward to seeing who will step up — and that will be a big determining factor to our season’s success. With one second-year and one first-year sophomore, we will just have to see, but we do have a freshman that has a great chance of filling that fourth spot.
“Overall, we will have a little building year, and our expectations are to be competitive and see where we land.”
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.