GNADENHUTTEN- After an impressive 2015 season and a final record of 61-22, Indian Valley High's golf squad will try to put up even better numbers this year.
The Braves will look to claim the Principals Athletic Conference title after finishing as the runner-up last fall.
This will be no easy task, though, after losing three of their top six golfers to graduation. Brett Rentsch, Jadan Hartzler and Hunter Host were all lettermen and vital to last year's success.
Coach Philip Rangel had nothing but positive things to say about his group of golfers this year.
"Each returning player has shown huge improvements from the previous season," he said.
Rangel will look to his returning lettermen to lead the way this upcoming season.
"I look for Jarret Helter to lead the team again and have strong support from Dalton Burcher and Austin Rummel," offered the IV mentor.
Jarret Helter, who is coming off a superb season, averaged only 40 strokes per nine holes in 2015 to emerge as the team medalist. He looks to carry that same success over into his senior year.
A duo of sophomores also look to contribute in a big way. Dalton Burcher, who lettered as a freshman in 2015, averaged 43 strokes per nine holes. Classmate Austin Rummel is also expected to turn in one of the top four scores in matches throughout the year.
The other two seniors that will look for regular playing time are James Metzger and Andrew Gazdik.
The Braves will have two newcomers this year. Freshmen Grant Clum and Mason Rummel will look to make early contributions as they fight for the final spots on the varsity squad.
Rangel looks for immediate production out of Metzger, Gazdik and Rummel and is very optimistic about Grant's future.
"Our fourth score will likely come from James, Andrew or Mason," said Rangel. "Grant Clum will contribute to varsity scores in the coming years as he shows great potential."
Indian Valley finished in fourth place at its sectional tournament last year, and will try to jump into the top three this season to qualify for district competition.
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Much like the boys, the Indian Valley girls' team had an impressive showing in 2015. They will also try to carry that success into the upcoming season.
The Lady Braves finished with a 15-3 record and advanced to districts for the first time ever.
Indian Valley coach Harry Huggins will be entering his fourth year of in charge. He has a current overall record of 21-13.
Coach Huggins will have an overall young group to work with that includes four juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen. The Lady Braves will be without a senior to lead their team this year, so the juniors will be counted on for leadership.
"With a strong core of returning players and a consistent work effort shown daily, we are excited to begin the 2016 season," said Huggins.
A pair of first team all-Eastern District honorees will lead the way for Indian Valley - juniors Makayla Keathley and Olivia Shaw who are both two year lettermen. Other juniors who will be participating are Kiera Brown, a one-year letter winner, and first year player Nancy Martinez.
The lone sophomore will be Elle McDaniel, a one-year letterwinner.
Rounding out the team are the two freshmen - Maddie McDaniel and Mackenzie Morrison.
"This group of young ladies was responsible for becoming the first girls' golf team to reach district play," exclaimed Huggins.