Since veteran Serena High School coach and teacher Chad Baker helped start the Newark-Serena golf cooperative during the 2016 fall sports season, the Norsemen have proven to be mighty tough winning three consecutive Little Ten Conference championships.
New-Ser has also claimed individual league medallist honors two of the three years including last years title won by Baker's son, Connor, in a sudden death playoff with Indian Creek's R.J. McCoy.
Connor Baker will return for his senior season to lead another formidable Norsemen squad for the co-op that finished strong as a group in 2018 placing fourth at the Byron Class 1A Regional. There, Connor Baker advanced to the Oregon Sectional but missed out on making it to the state finals.
"Connor would like to win the individual conference tournament for the second year in a row as well as another team championship that's for sure," coach Baker said. "But he also really wants to advance to state in his senior year and he got a little taste of tournament golf over the summer so I think that was good for him. I think we've got a nice chance to so some good things again as a group for the co-op with some pretty good golfers in addition to Connor."
Those include seniors Porter Arneson, Tanner Kunkel, and Jack Rogers who should round out the top-four scoring on a meet-by-meet basis. Coach Baker also believes he has some promising young talent in sophomores Ben Maple. Nick Moore and Dylan Cartwright along with freshmen Canden Figgins, Michael Marshall and Kole Stegman that will help round out a strong New-Ser contingent.
Fifth-year veteran coach Brock Harp leads a group of five boys and three girls that will compete for the Red Raiders this season.
Last year Earlville placed fourth at the Little Ten meet where Jake Pickert finished fifth as a sophomore.
Pickert will return along with senior captain Branson Vahl, junior Connor Cook, and sophomore Jeremy Weymouth along with Harp's promising freshman daughter, Kaydence Harp, who the coach feels can surely compete with boys as a reliable scorer on the varsity level.
"As a freshman she's really worked on her game and she'll certainly contribute this year playing with the guys," coach Harp said. "Jake Pickert really stepped up last year at conference and I think he'll do it again and I certainly expect Branson Vahl to really lead us as a senior captain after some fine finishes last season. We'll be competitive, but we'll going to have our hands full at times. I'm still very optimistic, but we'll have to work hard." Coach Harp will also look for contributions from his sophomore daughter, Isabella, along with freshmen Wyatt Ackley and Mya Humm in the hopes of improving on last year's 10th-place finish at the Putnam County Class 1A Regional.
For the first time Somonauk and Leland High Schools will combine for a cooperative in golf.
The Bobcats boys – who finished fifth at last year's LTC meet and ninth at the Bryon Class 1A Regional – will be guided by Oswego High School alum and first-year coach Jeff Kenyon who will lead a list of seven competitors.
Of that grouping, seniors Charlie Vermeland and Charlie Titzel, along with juniors Tyler Jansen and Ryan Johnson should provide the bulk of the scoring.
"I've played with a few of the guys over the summer and I'm really excited about our two returning seniors and a couple of our juniors," Kenyon said. "Charlie Vermeland will most likely lead our group and he'll get some good help I think from Tyler Jansen and Charlie Titzel who should be very competitive. I've had limited time with the guys, but I believe we'll have a few others who will contribute as well. We're pretty excited about the co-op combining forces and trying to make the best of it. I'm going to try to instill confidence in these guys and challenge them the best I can."
Kenyon will also count on junior Blaise McGowen as well as sophomores Jaylen Dion and Andrew Salisbury.
The Somonauk-Leland girls will also welcome a new coach as Mike Schwerdtfeger assumes the helm hoping to improve on an eighth-place finish last season at the Providence Catholic Class 1A Regional. No other information was made available about the Somonauk-Leland girls as of press time.