Last season, the Fieldcrest Knights boys golf team enjoyed a successful, senior-powered season with high expectations.
After the graduation of such mainstays as state qualifier/Heart of Illinois Conference Tournament champion Nick Mariotti and sectional qualifier/All-HOIC linksman Clay Wells, coach Matt Winkler's 2019 squad has exactly zero seniors. Still, the veteran coach is hopeful for another strong campaign spearheaded by experienced — albeit not 12th-grade — leaders.
A pair of juniors, Koy Allen (a sectional qualifier and member of The Times Boys Golf Honor Roll last season) and Isaac Morse, are expected to lead the way for the seven-Knight roster.
"We will be very young with no seniors on the roster," Winkler said, "but we have good leadership with Koy and Isaac, who are in their third year of golf. Koy and Isaac are very good golfers and have a good chance to make it to state this year."
The rest of the Fieldcrest roster, while not experienced, does show some promise. That especially pertains to freshman Lucas Bernardi, whom Winkler says "is playing well and will continue to improve as the year progresses."
Fellow freshman Jaxon Kearfott and sophomores Nolan Timmerman, Kaden Gensler and Erik Luning will also contribute for the male Knights when they open the 2019 campaign Monday at the Midland Invitational at Lacon Country Club.
On the girls side, coach Lisa Lindstrom is hopeful for another step in the right direction in 2019, led by a handful of returnees.
"We have three new players and five returning," Lindstrom said. "Our varsity will be young, but I am expecting great things from them."
Fieldcrest's girls are also scheduled to open the season Monday, with the Lady Knights playing at the Pontiac Elks Club.
Only three golfers were out for the team at Flanagan-Cornell as of this writing — all three of them girls — meaning the Lady Falcons will compete solely as individuals.
Still, coach Taylor Augsburger is looking forward to a fun and rewarding season with the small squad, which is made up of senior Devin Snow and juniors Tatum Iverson and Payton Zimmerman.
"I hope to see each golfer improve every single day," Augsburger said. "My hope is to mold these young ladies into better people, and that they develop a passion for the sport. Overall, this season should be a lot of fun with the group we have, and I'm excited to get the ball rolling.
"Not having a golf course in Flanagan is tough, because these kids don't get to grow up with the game of golf and have to be introduced to it during their later years ... (but) I am excited to see where this season takes us."