by Matt Deutsch
With a senior-laden roster returning, the Nordonia High School boys golf team has high hopes for the 2016 season.
The Knights lost just one starter, Brandon Pearl, who was honorable mention All-Suburban League, from a year ago to graduation
Last season, Nordonia finished with an overall record of 8-4, including a mark of 3-4 in the National Conference of the Suburban League. The Knights then placed 10th in a field of 16 teams at a Division I sectional tournament.
Nordonia has four starters returning for the upcoming campaign. They include Drake Tobias, who had an average score of 40 per nine holes, Phil Toth (44), Jared Budner (44.9) and Chris Armao (46.5). Tobias was named first team all-conference in 2015. Rounding out the starting five will be junior Jake Vetrovsky (42.2).
In terms of newcomers, fifth-year Knights head coach Scott Lawrence indicated that he's looking for some players to step up behind the aforementioned returning five.
"That's still to be determined, but we have a good core of underclassmen looking to compete for a varsity position," Lawrence said.
Lawrence will be relying upon his returning golfers to provide leadership and low scores throughout the season.
"Our core nucleus of returning lettermen bring a ton of valuable experience back," he said. "We're working on becoming mentally stronger golfers and learning how to not get too far ahead of ourselves and stay in the moment."
As far as goals for the upcoming campaign are concerned, Nordonia is looking to compete for the Suburban League championship. The Knights also will seek to qualify for the district tournament and quite possibly, punch a ticket to the state tournament.
First, though, Nordonia will have to navigate a tough Suburban League schedule. Lawrence and his experienced golfers know what to expect, though.
"The league has been competitively strong from top to bottom," he said. "We have our hands full, especially with teams like Hudson, who returns the state individual champion. But it's golf and we know that anything is possible on any given day."
This is Lawrence's 11th year as a head coach at Nordonia. For the first six, he was the head coach of the girls golf program. He has spent the past four as the boys head mentor. His assistant coach this season is Joe Knight.
The Knights are scheduled to open their season Aug. 5 at the Suburban League Preseason Tournament. Play is set to begin at 8 a.m. at Windmill Lakes Golf Club in Ravenna.