Top teams: St. Charles East, St. Charles North, Geneva, Batavia, West Aurora, Marmion, Kaneland, Aurora Central Catholic, Aurora Christian
Top athletes: Aurora Central Catholic: Mac Cowen, soph., Christian Latham, sr., Zach Baker, jr., Ian Carlson, jr., John Melchiorre, jr.; Aurora Christian: Brett Seward, soph., Devin Johnson, soph., Kollin Schalhamer, sr.; Batavia: Nick Robinson, jr., Andrew Nelson, jr., Nick LaRocco, sr., Matt Patton, sr., Josh Moore, sr., Mike Morrison, jr.; Geneva: Matt Fisher, sr., Andrew Abel, soph., Ethan Dalton, jr., Spencer Monroe, soph., Alex Lenski, jr., Garrett Davis, sr., Spencer Sharpe, sr.; Kaneland: Jesse Denton, sr., Jake Head, soph., Jeremy Saletto, sr., Brett Glennon, soph., Jakob Sanders, sr., Jacob Sheehan, sr.; Marmion: Luke Hoss, jr., Jackson Clark, jr., Nick Huggins, soph.; St. Charles East: Ronnie Griggs, sr., Gary King, sr., Colin Johnson, sr., Daniel Haugen, jr., Luke Spencer, sr., Jake Meiss, jr., Zach Podl, jr., Mike Bertke, soph.; St. Charles North: Jarron Gandy, sr., Tharyn Duncan, sr., Hank Zimmer, jr., Trevor Kurtohelz, jr., Alex Gruber, jr., Jake Muehlschlegel, soph., Michael Staszuk, soph., Liam Smith, jr.; West Aurora: Adam Spooner, sr., Dean Lavery, jr., Kerry Taylor, jr., Zach Butcher, jr., Cody Stewart, sr., Jacob Foote, sr.; Wheaton Academy: Carter Bruntjen, jr.
Scouting report: A lack of familiarity is perhaps the central theme for the local boys golf programs this fall. Graduation losses were inordinately high, especially for the Class 3A programs that advanced out of the St. Charles East regional last fall.
For the two St. Charles high schools, 11 of the 12 competitors at the Naperville Central sectional fulfilled their eligibility. The Saints' King is the only player returning this fall between the two traditional powers.
Batavia junior Robinson and Marmion junior Hoss are the only other large-class sectional returnees. There are no returning state qualifiers playing competitively this fall in Class 3A.
"A lot of new faces," St. Charles East coach John Stock said.
"We're starting all over again with a new generation," St. Charles North coach Rob Prentiss said. "We have two guys (with varsity experience) coming back who know how I do things. But I'm looking forward to it. We have a great group of guys."
Aurora Central Catholic and Kaneland both advanced out of the Chargers' Class 2A regional at Phillips Park, but each program will also have new looks this fall.
"It's tough losing your top two players (Matt Yonkovich and Brody Kuhar to graduation)," Kaneland coach Mark Meyer said.
With the exception of Marmion, all the Class 3A schools in the area will compete in the Upstate Eight Conference. Veteran Batavia coach Tim DeBruycker said the twin divisions' new constellation of schools will present immediate challenges in determining the front-runners for the conference titles.
"With West Aurora and Glenbard East joining the conference, we gained a school (West Chicago) on our side (the River)," DeBruycker said. "For (conference) scheduling purposes that has created some largely important matches."
Tuesday at Royal Fox Country Club, the River side of the league has a critical quadrangular pitting the two St. Charles schools against Batavia. St. Charles East, which has won seven of the last 10 largest-class area regional titles, rates a slight edge for River supremacy this fall.
"Some new faces in the Tri-Cities, but it should still be some good competition," DeBruycker said. "(St. Charles East seems) to have a little more senior leadership than some of the other teams."
"Ask me in two weeks," Stock said of the Saints' expectations this fall. "Our first two weeks we see where we are at. We have a lot of golf to go. (We) just let people play (in the early part of the season) and try and get better."
For the first time in over three decades, Bill Koehn is not manning the helm of the Geneva program. Eric Hatczel is the new coach after overseeing the Vikings' girls program for almost a decade.
"It's a different challenge, it's a different opportunity," Hatczel said. "I had an absolute blast with the girls for nine years. If the opportunity had come sooner, I wouldn't have taken it. Any time a new coach takes over, there's going to be growing pains."
The Vikings need to find a suitable replacement for Graham Lillibridge, the talented underclassman who elected not to come out in order to concentrate on his hockey pursuits.
"I think we have a good group of core boys who are coming back," Hatczel said. "I think the boys have a lot of room to grow. There's a lot of talent."
West Aurora shifts to the Valley Division, and longtime coach Jay Bauer will rely on Spooner and Lavery. The Blackhawks were a charter member of the Upstate Eight when it was formed during the 1962-63 school year.
"It's changed a lot since we left it (for the DuPage Valley Conference in 1997)," Bauer said of the conference. "I always have as an objective to finish in the top half of the league. Adam (Spooner) is my top-returning scorer from last year. We are young. We have seven juniors and three seniors."
Marmion coach Doug Roberts also enters the season looking to find the right combination of players.
"I feel pretty good about my top three (Hoss, Clark and Huggins)," Roberts said. "There's a slew of juniors who are going to be vying for (spots in the starting lineup). We're going to need a lot more consistency from (Nos.) 4, 5 and 6 to advance in any way, shape or form (in the postseason)."
Kaneland coach Meyer is also confident about his top-three returnees in Denton, Head and Saletto as the Knights seek to improve upon their third-place finish in the Northern Illinois Big XII last year.
"We'll have to see over the first four weeks who solidifies a spot in our top six," Meyer said.
Former Aurora Central Catholic golfer Mark Frantzen takes over the program at his alma mater from Jim Parker. The Chargers were sectional team champions last year; one-half of the starting lineup is back in the form of Cowen, Latham and Baker.
Aurora Christian coach Kurtis Heerema has the talented underclassman Seward -- the only returning state qualifier in the area -- to anchor the Eagles' fortunes this fall. Wheaton Academy junior Bruntjen is the latest in a long line of St. Charles residents to compete for the West Chicago high school.
Key dates: Aug. 26, St. Charles East-St. Charles North-Batavia-Waubonsie Valley Upstate Eight quadrangular; Aug. 28, Geneva Invitational; Aug. 30, Fenton Invitational; Sept. 6, Batavia Invitational; Sept. 10, Aurora City Tournament; Sept. 13, Zion-Benton Invitational; Sept. 15, Ruth Lake High School Challenge; Sept. 20, Wheeling Invitational; Sept. 27, Hinsdale Central Red Devil Invitational; Week of Sept. 29, Conference championships; Oct. 4, Lake Park Invitational.