After a slow start to the 2015 season, things have been looking up of late for the Miami Trace Panthers boys golf team.
First Team, All-SCOL performer Mitchell Creamer, a junior, returns to lead the Panthers.
“Mitchell averaged right below a 40,” Miami Trace coach Kyle McConnaughey said. “He’s playing very good this year so far, averaging 38.”
This is Creamer’s third year on the varsity team.
Lucas Shaw is a senior.
“Lucas did not play the last two years,” McConnaughey said. “He decided to come out this year and he’s really helping out a lot. He’s been shooting fair numbers, around a 47.
“I have another senior, Drew Stevens,” McConnaughey said. “He brings a good attitude to the team. He’s a fun kid; very well-liked. He brings some leadership, even though this is his first year golfing. He’s shooting in the low 50s for me.
“Freshman Tyler Eggleton has been a surprise,” McConnaughey said. “He’s shooting right around a 42 average. He’s really improving his game.
“Jacob Batson, a junior, has played in a couple of matches,” McConnaughey said. “This is his first year playing. He played football before. We’re working hard with him.
“Cameron Carter is a sophomore,” McConnaughey said. “He’s a first year player and he’s working very hard.
Hayden Walters is a freshman who just qualified to play in the varsity match against East Clinton on Sept. 2.
Ryan Arledge is a sophomore.
Ashton Cox is a junior.
“He’s playing in the low 50s for me,” McConnaughey said. “We’re trying to get him down into the 40s.
The Panthers will be hoping to move up in the SCOL standings after placing fifth in 2014.
Hillsboro won the SCOL last year, followed by Washington, Clinton-Massie and East Clinton.
After Miami Trace, it was Chillicothe in sixth, McClain in seventh and Wilmington eighth.
“At the beginning of the season, I knew we were going to be young and inexperienced,” McConnaughey said. “This may be the best group I’ve ever had. They’re listening. They want to learn.
“We shot a 205 in our first match,” McConnaughey said. “We’ve improved in every match since then. We just shot a 175 (in an SCOL quad match at Buckeye Hills).”
Prior to the match against East Clinton on Sept. 2, the Panthers had brought their record up to 3-3 on the season.
“That’s pretty respectable,” McConnaughey said. “And the kids are getting better.”
Creamer came within one stroke of advancing to the District tournament last year.
This year, the Panthers are Division I in golf. They will play in the Sectional tournament Monday, Oct. 5 at Hocking Hills Golf Club in Logan.
The top four teams and the top four individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the District tournament Monday, Oct. 12 at Crown Hill Golf Club in Williamsport.
What about goals for the team?
“We wanted to get better,” McConnaughey said. “Our first match was not very good.
“We have certain objectives for every match,” McConnaughey said. “So far, they have met every objective. We are improving every match.
“Individually, I’ve had the kids sit down and, based on what their averages are, set realistic goals,” McConnaughey said. “For Mitchell, his goal is to make it to the District. He’s not even thinking about State. He’s worked hard enough to have that as a goal.”
McConnaughey gave a few thoughts on the SCOL race for 2015.
“Clinton-Massie had a freshman class last year that was just unbelievable,” McConnaughey said. “I think they will contend for the league with Hillsboro, East Clinton and Washington Court House. Right now, that’s how it’s unfolding.
“But, we got ourselves right back into it by winning (the McClain quad),” McConnaughey said. “I’m hoping we can finish in the top four in the league.”
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1