It may be a challenging season for the Sandwich varsity boys golf squad and seventh-year coach Mike Butler. After struggling through a four-win, eight-loss season and a ninth-place finish at the Interstate Eight Conference Meet in 2017, the Indians graduated seven varsity letterwinners and now return only two golfers off last year's squad with any varsity experience.
Add to that a slim nine-man roster entering 2018 plus two key injuries that figure to keep a pair of the SHS boys contingent sidelined for a while, and the outlook for the Indians linksters is hopeful but guarded.
"We have these ups and downs sometimes when you graduate a bunch, which often comes with the territory," Butler said. "But working with these nine relatively new guys is something I'm looking forward to. We have some potential, but it's just a matter of getting repetitions and getting experience. Most years I don’t like to throw kids to the lions right away, but unfortunately this year we don't have that luxury, especially because of the injuries to a couple of key guys."
Those would be to senior varsity letterman Andrew Gipe and promising sophomore Aidan Sullivan, who both suffered significant hand injuries over the summer. Sullivan will be out a couple weeks, while Gipe is expected to miss most of the season.
So Butler will turn to senior and 2017 varsity letterman Tyler Bols along with junior Dexter Wesson, sophomores Ryan Pruski, Ethan Hall and Jakob Braddish, as well as freshmen Michael Barbey and Elliott Underhile to pick up the slack.
On the girls side, the Lady Indians are full of young promise, boasting a solid 11-player roster including six varsity letterwinners from 2017, two I-8 All-Conference performers and only one senior.
"The girls are poised to have a breakout year with athletic competitors who are very talented," Butler said. "We expect great things out of them this season, and this is probably that best top-to-bottom girls golf roster we've had at Sandwich ever. At any given meet we could have five or six girls who can be our top scorer.
"I think this team is on the cusp of some really fine performances, and they should be extremely competitive all year long."
Leading the Lady Indian contingent will be senior Josie Gonzalez and sophomore Morgan Ross, who were I-8 All-Conference golfers in 2017.
Sandwich will also look to juniors Haley Chavarria and Jillian Fuchs along with sophomores Grace Donahue and Hannah Reedy, all of whom earned varsity letters last year.
Promising first-year players include senior Judy Chen along with freshmen Alijah Campbell, Jayden Baumbach and Bella Romano to round out the Lady Indians squad.