BarringtonThe Broncos look like a team under construction -- but already it's looking like a solid foundation is taking shape. While it's true that coach Mike Kallenbach is truly rebuilding after losing all the players to graduation from last year's standout third-place state finisher, this year's group already shot 150 in winning a triangular at par-34 Arlington Lakes. Kallenbach reports that he'll rely on senior leadership from senior captain Michael O'Toole. The other key players figure to be juniors Bobby Beaubian, Brandon Dorans, Mitch Mogler, Will Mogler and Anthony Scaletta as well as sophomores Dominic Scaletta, Sean Markham and Aidan Jackson. "It's exciting to build a new team," Kallenbach said. "It will be fun to watch how the season unfolds."
Buffalo GroveCoach Pete Duffer returns a crew that includes four key members of last year's team: seniors T.J. Constertina, Josh Figus and Zach Fricke and junior Kyle Richards. Juniors Mike Mandell, Matt Mayer and Michael Speer are joined by Sean Ouimet and Tyler Ehret in having the potential to make a difference. Duffer says he'll have his team spending more time than usual working on the short game, and he expects to have a rewarding season in the long run. "I have a respectful and fun group that loves the game and competes with integrity and sportsmanship," Duffer said. "We hope that we can challenge teams this year with improved course management and a determination to always improve."
ConantThird-year Cougars coach Scott Cieplik is looking forward to eventually hosting the MSL tournament this year, at Bridges of Poplar Creek. By that time, too, he hopes he's filled in some of the blanks in his own varsity lineup. "We have a thin but hungry team this year," Cieplik says. "I'd like to see how the JV team stacks up this year -- our JV team is pretty deep this year. We'll see who's the hungriest." The top returning players are seniors Kevin Andjulis and Tyler Mercurio and sophomore Sunny Sivarathri, and freshman Nikko Ganas could contribute right away. Also playing varsity roles are Eric Bradley, Kyle Lejman, Ethan Kim and Riley Bottom. "Our varsity team is going to competitive this year," Cieplik said. "We have some upperclassmen that would like to press on the success they had last year. I couldn't be happier with my roster this year. They are a good group of kids."
Elk GroveElk Grove enjoyed a breakthrough of sorts last season as the Grens advanced as a team to the sectional for the first time under coach Mike Meyer. This year's group will be without a couple of the key seniors responsible for that achievement -- but it also will have a solid core of players, including three juniors and a sophomore, who participated in it. Meyer will be counting on sophomore Jason Gamez, juniors Sean Cherry, Joe Montag and Ryley Rathman and seniors Christian O'Connor, Christopher Steffens, Jacob Sullivan and Skyler Tagliavia for his scores. And the coach likes what he saw from his players in the high school off-season. "Many of the team members strengthened their skills by participating in our summer camp program and played in other events during the off season," Meyer said.
FremdLeading the way for coach Ryan Moreau's team on Monday at the Rolling Green Invitational was senior Pierce Allord, who shot 74 and earned a sixth-place medal. Teammate Colin Robinson, a junior was right behind with a 75. Last year, Allord and Robinson both competed in the sectional as individuals along with then-sophomores Nathan Schmidt and Bill Gao.
HerseyAs coach Dan Caporusso begins season No. 34, he's trying to see if he can reverse history -- or at least amend it. He'd love to see his Huskies earn a repeat trip to the sectional, but in general he'd also like to see his program show better results earlier in the season, and avoid having to make such a mad dash at season's end. "We tend to be very reliable with peaking in October, and there's nothing wrong with that," he said. "But the goal this year is move up the timing a little bit and just try to make some big gains in September and even August." Seniors Joey Carlson and Michael Thomas are the key players back from that sectional-qualifying team, and they're joined by Tommy Lumsden, who missed last season with a shoulder injury but is ready to go this fall. After that, Caporusso sees potential in a big group of players which includes Ben Jackson, Colin Mizwicki, Ryan Kreie, Johnny Datillo, Derek Cho, Jake Irwin, twins Jake and Josh Perkins and freshman Henry Quinn.
Hoffman EstatesCoach Todd Meador is counting on upperclassman excellence this year. Alex Harrison and Alex Mayani are seniors with plenty of varsity experience; Harrison is a two-time all-conference selection and qualified to the sectional last season. Those two seniors will get support from three more seniors, Kurt Foy, Tom Curcio and Grant McGrath. "Our team's success will certainly be centered around the performance of our seniors," Meador said. "They have been a great group to work with so far this year, and I'm excited to see them start competing in matches." Others with the potential for strong varsity contributions are juniors Jim Kliver and Jonathon Lim and freshman Nathan Meister.
LeydenCoach Steven Siekierski thinks he's about three-fourths of the way to fielding a truly standout team. "My top three will be in the low 40s, maybe upper 30s," he said, "but we need to work on getting a respectable fourth score in order to win the close matches." Sophomore Sutape Chantapim and juniors Jared Hankins and Marco Diaz are the known quantities; Chantapim was an all-conference choice and made it to the sectional as a freshman last season as Leyden finished 7-6 overall and 3-3 in the conference. One candidate for that fourth score might be Jason Langer, who played golf as a freshman and is returning to the team for his senior year.
Maine WestThere's reason for optimism with this Warriors team, as coach Mike Godlewski has a pair of players who look like they can reliably make a big difference: senior Matty Mustari and junior Luke Rothweiler. Other experienced players include seniors Chase Stephen, Matt Fairhead and Christian Mirza, and Godlewski sees potential in Mikey Hanson, Evan Shacklette, Peter Langridge, Danny Rice, Riley Griffin, Danny Fowler and Nick Hernandez. In general, Maine West's goals are to improve each week, get as many players through to sectional as possible -- and just maybe a couple downstate as well. One thing is certain: As Godlewski begins his 23rd season, he plans to enjoy the ride. "We have an outstanding 1-2 punch in (Mustari and Rothweiler) and can blend some very good scores from many other returnees and some newcomers," Godlewski said. "I am very excited to have so much returning talent and look forward to an outstanding season. But most of all, these guys are all outstanding people who bring such great personalities and humor to the team."
PalatineThe Pirates enjoyed plenty of success last year, taking fourth place in the MSL and earning a fifth-place regional finish. And coach Mark Johnson has every reason to believe another season of achievement is in store for his program. Start with plenty of familiar faces in a big senior class that includes Caleb Choi, Max Myszka, Brent Penrose, Matt Helms, Caleb Nilsen, Charlie Berbeka and RJ Gunderson. Add to that a capable junior class with Nick Oswald, Kade Kane, Ben Rinella, Curtis McLennan, Evan Waller and Michael Messineo, and it's easy to see why Johnson's outlook is so positive. "Our senior class has tons of experience and I'm optimistic that they will lead us to a very successful season," he said. "Caleb Choi has put in a ton of time on his game and had a great tournament summer. Brent, Max and Matt have also progressed nicely since last season and I'm expecting that they will lead us in matches this fall. Caleb Nilsen is another player that we will count on for a good score each match. Charlie and RJ will give us the senior leadership that every great team needs to succeed. These seniors can put four scores up in the 30's/70's at any time. We just have to make sure we are consistently doing that to compete in a very good MSL."
Under Tom Martindale, the Knights have been a standard-setting program in the Mid-Suburban League. Last year's conference champs finished 14-1 in dual/tri/quad meets and qualified for the ultra-tough New Trier sectional, finishing fourth there. This year's team will be without two graduated players central to that success, Robert Garmoe and Nick Tenuta. But back in the fold is state qualifier Charlie Busch, and joining him as familiar faces are Jack Knott, Nate Dunker, Riley Kingston, Mark LaCamera and Josh Kern. Among the key newcomers with Martindale's group are Luke Ninnes, Jack Moeller, Reid Wagner and Tyler Preissing. How it will all work out this year for the Knights is hard to say at the moment, but there's no arguing with Martindale's success rate -- in 14 years leading the program, his teams are 185-50.
Rolling MeadowsIt was a breakthrough year for Rolling Meadows last fall as the Mustangs finished second in the Mid-Suburban East and qualified four individuals to the sectional round -- including freshman Chris Cho, who returns for his sophomore and is continuing to improve. Still, coach Joe Szabo's team graduated nine players from last year, so it may take a while to find the answers. One of them might be freshman Luke Duffer, who placed 10th in the recent Leyden Invite. Szabo says juniors Charlie Behrens, Paul Richards, Ben Kowalski, Mitch Coldebella and sophomore John Freiburger are "excited to show what they can do. We are a young team that will be growing every time out."
SchaumburgThe Saxons enjoyed a strong finish to their season last fall, with three players under coach Chris Zickert's guidance advancing to the sectional round. The returning players are seniors Nick Tudor and Nzelu Maitha, juniors Dan Meister and Vince Giglio and sophomore Alex Flowers. "We are looking forward to having a competitive year," said Zickert. "Nick, Nzelu and Dan had great summers and are looking to continue that success during the season. They are hoping to extend their season this year to the state meet."
St. ViatorJunior Timmy Crawford, who placed seventh as a sophomore in last year's Class 2A state tournament, is picking up right where he left off, having won the Rolling Green Invititational with a stellar 68 on Monday. Coach Jack Halpin thinks Crawford could end up as one of the all-time greats in the Lions' storied program. Also back with state tourney experience is junior Nolan Doherty. He placed 35th at state and held up well at Rolling Green on Monday, claiming a sixth-place medal.
WheelingCoach Mark Menich has a returning all-conference performer in senior D.J. Godlewski and is looking forward to strong results from both him and the team. "D.J. played in a number of tournaments this summer and has practiced on a consistent basis," said Menich, starting his 17th year leading the program. "His scores have really reflected that hard work." The other key players figure to be seniors Androu Yutakis, Max Derry and Kyle Ostrowski along with junior Jared Moser. Menich also hopes the play of Josh Boesen and Eric Konrath and perhaps Jack Tinsley and Michael Ogliore can improve and take some of the pressure off top scorers. "Androu Yutakis and Jared Moser have also played a lot this summer and are both expected to have a solid year," Menich said. "Kyle, Josh, Eric, Jack and Michael will have to do a little catching up, but they all have the skills to shoot some competitive rounds."