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Sports

Irish, Lady Irish have good mix of experience and youth

Seneca's Faith Hacker reacts to her putt rolling past the hole during regional action at Dwight Country Club last year. Hacker, now a senior, will be one of the members of the Lady Irish who will be counted on for leadership as well as low scores this campaign.
Seneca's Faith Hacker reacts to her putt rolling past the hole during regional action at Dwight Country Club last year. Hacker, now a senior, will be one of the members of the Lady Irish who will be counted on for leadership as well as low scores this campaign.

Seneca golf coach Bryan Erickson is excited to get the season underway, and for good reason.

Erickson, now in his 10th year guiding the Irish and Lady Irish on the links, did lose sectional qualifiers Brody McNabb and Taylor Vroman to graduation, but feels there is plenty of experience back as well as some solid newcomers which he hopes translates into good things when his Seneca teams take the course this year.

"I think we are going to be really solid in the top four spots with the boys, with the rest of the group battling for the five and six spots," said Brian Erickson. "We also couldn't be happier with the numbers with the girls side, or the program overall for that matter. This is the most girls that we have ever had come out for the golf team.

"I think we are going to have really solid teams for sure."

The Irish open the season Thursday at the Sandwich Indian Invitational, while beginning the home schedule against Peoria Christian on Aug. 14. The Lady Irish will hit the tee box for the first time Aug. 13 in Plano against the hosts and Westmont, then start the home schedule vs. Dwight three days later.

The Irish have seven players listed on the varsity roster — lone senior Mark Mehochko, juniors Brett Yegge, Alex Stiegler and Dillion Conroy, plus sophomores Holden Flynn, A.J. Stiegler and Austin Marshall. Erickson also says that freshmen Noah Quigley and Owen Quigley may be moved up to the varsity team at some point.

"Brett has two years varsity experience and will be looked to for leadership and a consistent low-counting score each time out, while A.J. came into this season much improved from his freshman year on the JV squad," Erickson said. "I think (A.J.) is a guy who can really push Brett sometimes for that No. 1 spot. ... After the first two days of tryouts, their average was equal.

"Holden also has a year of varsity experience and played last year in the No. 5 and No. 6 spots for us. His game has improved five or six strokes on nine holes from last year. We are expecting him to be a solid contributor for us. Alex, A.J.'s brother, has a year varsity experience too and was a No. 4/5 guy for us, but I expect him to be No. 3/4 this year. The No. 5 and No. 6 spots for us are going to be a revolving door, a kind of 'who's the hot guy' as we move along through the season."

The Lady Irish boast nine golfers on the roster — senior veterans Faith Hacker, Krista Eikleberry and 12th-grade newcomers Kearra Kargle and Rebekah Chapman; junior Monica Groth; sophomore Mallory Sobkowich, along with freshman Rylee Stenzel, Laura Yegge and Jessica Daggett. Hacker placed second to help lead Seneca to the Interstate Eight Conference Meet title last season in its final I-8 event.

"Stenzel will be our No. 1 golfer," Erickson said of the talented ninth-grader. "She started playing golf at a very young age and has a ton of experience after playing in both Illinois Junior and American Junior Golf Association events for a number of years. Since the start of Seneca having a girls golf team, we haven't had a girl who was capable of shooting in the low-40s/high-30s consistently, but we definitely have that in her. She is going to step in right away and help our team immensely.

"Faith has three years of varsity experience, and she has played in that No. 1 or No. 2 spot the last couple of seasons, and it looks like she'll be our No. 2 this year. Krista Eikleberry has two years of experience, and Monica returns after missing last season due to injury. We'll be counting on those scores from Hacker, Eikleberry and Groth most of the time, and they all have improved by three or four strokes from a year ago."

SCHEDULE
Date Opponent/Event Time

8/9 at Sandwich Invite (B) 1 p.m.

8/13 at Plano w/Westmont (G) 3:30 p.m.

8/14 PEORIA CHRISTIAN (B) 1 P.M.

8/15 at Streator w/Reed-Custer (B) 4 p.m.

8/16 DWIGHT (G) 4 p.m.

8/20 MENDOTA & HALL (B) 4 p.m.

8/20 at Putnam County w/Henry-Sen. (G) 4 p.m.

8/21 at Hinckley-Big Rock (B) 4 p.m.

8/23 at Westmont w/Wilmington (B) 4 p.m.

8/25 at Putnam Co. Scramble (B) 9 a.m.

8/25 at Somonauk Tourney (G) 1 p.m.

8/27 HENRY-SENACHWINE (B) 4 p.m.

8/28 PLANO & SANDWICH (B) 4 p.m.

8/28 at Sandwich w/Plano (G) 4 p.m.

8/30 at Dwight w/Manteno (B) 4 p.m.

8/30 at Lisle (G) 4 p.m.

9/4 at Marquette w/Roanoke-Benson (B) 4 p.m.

9/4 DWIGHT & BEECHER (G) 4 p.m.

9/5 at Putnam County w/Fieldcrest (G) 4 p.m.

9/6 FIELDCREST (B) 4 p.m.

9/6 PLANO & SANDWICH (G) 4 p.m.

9/10 at Pontiac Invite (G) 1 p.m.

9/11 at Coal City w/Peoria Christian (B) 4 p.m.

9/12 at Midland w/Putnam County (B) 4 p.m.

9/13 at Woodland (B) 4 p.m.

9/13 at Somonauk (G) 4 p.m.

9/18 REED-CUSTER & NEWARK-SERENA (B) 4 p.m.

9/18 PUTNAM COUNTY (G) 4 p.m.

9/20 at Dwight Invite (B) 1 p.m.

9/20 PLANO (G) 4 p.m.

9/24 at Pontiac (G) 4 p.m.

9/26 TCC Meet at Pontiac Elks 9 a.m.

9/27 SOMONAUK (B) 4 p.m.

9/27 at La Salle-Peru (G) 4 p.m.

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