“I feel like this is a group that has both the talent and the experience to put together a very strong season,” said Panthers golf coach Troy Hildebrand. “With some solid returners, a couple of promising freshmen and a foreign exchange student added to our roster, we should have good depth and competition for the five varsity spots for the state tournament in Evanston.”
Leading the parade of returnees is senior Zane Bushnell. Bushnell is already a three-year letterwinner for the Panthers and, by virtue, appears poised to serve as this season's leader both on the course and on the scoreboard.
“Zane worked very hard on his game this summer in an effort to put together a strong senior season,” said Hildebrand.
Juniors Brian Morse and Colter Adolph are also back this season. Like Bushnell, Morse lettered in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. He also carded the low-round at last year's state tournament with a round of 74 on the tournament's second day. Adolph, who will miss this week's tournament due to a family commitment, is also a returning letterwinner.
Sophomore Bowen Prestwich is expected to make a dent in his second year.
“Bowen seemed to get better each week last year and he spent a ton of time on his game over the summer in preparation for the season,” said Hildebrand. “I am looking forward to seeing his growth as we move through this season.”
Cameron Nielson, also a sophomore, will be playing as the Panthers' No. 4 golfer when the season opens.
“It is very promising to see him come back playing well. He should be battling for a varsity position throughout the year,” said Hildebrand.
Also expected to contribute will be freshmen Jared Wantulok and Dillon Nix. Due to Adolph's absense, Wantulok will debut as the No. 5 member of the Panthers' varsity lineup this week after qualifying for the position in early practice.
“Jared's hard work on his game this summer to prepare for our season paid off,” Hilde-brand said. “It looks like he'll be able to get a lot of tournament experience this year between varsity and JV. Dillon will play out of our No. 1 JV spot this week. The experience of tournament play as freshmen is very valuable for these young players.”
On the girls' side, the Panthers do not have enough players to compete as a team this fall, so the 2010 season will be about individual honors.
Sophomore Alyssa Hilde-brand appears poised to have the best year for the Panthers.
“Alyssa was able to have a solid freshman season and earn all-conference honors,” said Troy Hildebrand. “Having that year of experience under her belt should help her throughout this season. I look forward to seeing her growth from last year to this year.”
Also golfing for the Panther girls will be sophomore Savannah Triplett. Triplett played as a freshman. While she won't be in action this week for Powell's home meet, Hildebrand noted that he was hopeful Triplett would be ready to start competing in tournaments by mid-season.
The Panthers travel to Lander next Friday for their first away action of the season.