Coach: Mike Rietzke, fourth season
2017: Third in BVC
Returning letterwinners: Senior Cody Balliet.
Others: Senior Owen Schumm. Juniors Ethan Oswalt; Tyson Swanagan; Luke Graham; Kasey Thompson; Olivia Zender. Sophomores Kiley Cline; Layne Myers; Hannah Fought; Abby Yarris; Morgan Searles. Freshmen Devin Falter; Walker Suter.
Outlook: In truth, Hopewell-Loudon has enough players for two teams this season.
“We have enough for a girls team,” Rietzke said. “We’re just not ready to roll them out just yet.”
Until then, Cline will play with the boys’ squad.
As the lone returning letterwinner to the boys team, Balliet is expected to take on a big role.
“Hoping that Cody will be a leader for our team, build on his successes from last year and put it all together for his senior year,” Rietzke said.
Rietzke talked about how Jena Huffman — who has graduated — turned herself into a college golfer with a strong senior campaign. He said Balliet also has the ability for a big final season.
“I feel like Cody, it seems like this year he understands the game a little bit better,” the coach said.
As for the rest of the Chieftains on the boys’ side, Rietzke said it will be a work in progress.
“We are really, really young, and we are really, really raw,” he said. “Just watching the first week, the freshmen went from 70s first day to mid 40s the next day. We’ve already shown some drastic improvement. I think we’re not on the level of Van Buren or that we’ll be up there with Liberty(-Benton), but for the other schools we’ll be right there with them.”
Rietzke said what the team needs most is more time on the course.
“We just need repetitions right now,” Rietzke said. “The more these kids get out and play, the better. It’s all tweaking things now. They just need reps. By the time late September rolls around, we’ll be pretty solid. We just need kids playing, and they need to get experience.”
On the girls side, Rietzke said Cline has the potential for a big season.
“I think Kiley has a really, really good swing,” Rietzke said. “She has everything she needs to be really, really good.”
The coach said he feels good about the future of the Chieftains’ girls team.
“I think we have the makings of a really good girls program,” he said.