Jamestown High looks to have the strongest squad among Bay Rivers District golf teams this fall. But coach Doug Meredith thinks defending the Eagles' state 4A title might be a tall order.
Bay Rivers District teams started practice Aug. 4 and will compete against one another starting Mondayat 11 a.m. at Williamsburg National Golf Club. After the regular season, they will play in separate post-season tournaments.
Jamestown competes in Group 4A South Conference 19, Lafayette and Warhill in Group 3A East Conference 25, and Bruton in Group 2A East Conference 33.
Jamestown lost three key golfers from last season's team that notched its 12th district title and eighth regional title, as well as won state, including years under the old and new Virginia High School League alignments.
Three top contributors from last season are seniors Emily Salamy and Dan Kelly and sophomore Will Bell. Off to a good start in practice as part of a deep roster are junior Matthew Shield and seniors Ryan Satira and Alex Atkins, according to Meredith.
"They're going to be fine," Meredith said of his three top returners. "They contributed last year, and Emily's a great player. They've all contributed to us last year.
"Our biggest problem is filing the holes of the three that graduated."
Lafayette finished second to Jamestown in the district last season, while Bruton was sixth and Warhill last.
Lafayette graduated two seniors and rising junior Evan Johnson moved away, according to coach Pat Thompson.
"We're rebuilding this year," Thompson said.
Competing for the No. 1 and 2 spots are junior Tawni Hatcher and sophomore Jacob Smethurst. Three other golfers fairly close in talent and competing for the No. 3, 4 and 5 spots are juniors Conor Flannery and Jake Clark and senior Jordan Olson. Senior Harry Grimes is competing for the sixth spot.
"Our scoring average will be down, for sure, probably five strokes for each kid," Thompson said. "I just don't know how they're going to do in competition, and how quickly they're going to improve. I've got two at the top who work hard all year round, so I do think they're going to be very much improved."
Thompson kept all two dozen golfers that came out for his team, and said he has seven or eight freshmen in the group that have great potential.
"That's difficult to juggle, but that's how you build," he said.
A young Warhill team struggled last season, and the youth is still there. The group has no seniors, but had its biggest turnout ever at 17 of which 15 were kept on the team, said coach Edgar Randall.
Big losses were 2013 state qualifiers Nick Beaulieu and Mike McGee, who averaged 80 and 82 before a dropoff in scores into the 100s by their teammates.
Top returners are sophomore Peter Conway, who is expected to shoot in the mid to high 80s, sophomore Austin Beaulieu and junior Cole Siegel. Newcomers with some experience who have not previously played at Warhill are sophomore Evan Kerr, a transfer from Williamsburg Christian Academy, and sophomore Ryan Creecy and junior Josh Broaddus, both of whom previously played football.
Sophomores Bryce Parker and Nathan Brungot and freshman Blake Sawyer are expected to be in the mix.
"I think we'll finish higher than we did last year," Randall said. "I look for our scoring to come down a little bit."
Bruton finished second in Conference 33 last season in coach Nick Zanca's first season.
The Panthers lost their three top golfers to graduation, and will have a mostly young team with a couple seniors, quite a few freshmen and an 8th grader, Zanca said. Senior Wyatt Baldasare will play his fourth season at Bruton, and freshman Dylan Jenkins is one to watch.
"From what we've seen so far, we've got some of our guys that can play some golf and just need to fine-tune some things," Zanca said.
Williams can be reached by phone at 757-247-4644.
Bay Rivers District golf season opens Mondayat 11 a.m. at Williamsburg National Golf Club.
See a video from Jamestown High School golf practice at vagazette.com.