Prep golf season is underway for Southern Illinois schools as both players and coaches look to leave their marks on the upcoming season.

Carmi will look to repeat after a strong showing in last year’s regional and an up and down effort in sectionals. The Bulldogs top five golfers are led by incoming sophomore Oakley Gee, junior Ty Barbre, junior Kaden Carter, junior KaCee Fulkerson, and senior Alex O’Daniel with the sixth spot still up for grabs.

“We’ve lost some great leadership out of last year’s seniors but our goal is to still bring home the trophy this year,” said Carmi coach Trey Mason.

The Bulldogs finished fourth in state last season after a strong showing out of Gee (78) and Barbre (80). They’ll return five state performers and look to build off the experience they gained last season.

“We had some hiccups and penalties that cost us last year and it’s still fresh in our minds,” said Mason. “I’m constantly reminding our kids that this year because we’re not the only team that’s got something to prove.”

Carmi will see the likes of Hamilton County and Trico in Black Diamond Conference play this year. Trico will return a varsity roster that all saw regional play in 2018. Led by senior Edward Brees, the Pioneers will also bring back a good group of juniors in Peyton Lovel, Daniel Vogt and Ross Coleman.

“We only have one senior on the team but we should have a pretty good chance in advancing out of the regional and making it into sectionals,” said Trico coach Tyler Coleman. “Eddy just missed the cut last season, so we’re expecting big things out of him in his senior year.”

Hamilton County will return after losing senior Austyn Downen, who matched Gee’s score of 78 during state.

The Hamilton County girls’ team will be led by returning junior Kylee Vaughan after finishing 12th in state a year ago. The Lady Foxes couldn’t have asked for a better showing out of Vaughan during her sophomore year after finishing with top scores in the regionals and sectionals.

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“We expect Kylee to be a strong returner this season for us,” said Lady Foxes coach Kim Vaughan. “She just needs to keep doing what she’s been doing and keep her stroke average around par like it has been.”

The Lady Foxes will also return senior’s Jaylee Glenn and Bailey Stricklin to the team. Freshman Kenadee Hailey will look to benefit from playing around two seniors and a junior in her first year playing golf.

“Both of our seniors bring a lot of maturity and are always working at getting better,” said Vaughan. “(Glenn) has worked very hard this summer and has played in most of the SIGA Tournaments. Her all-around game has improved and she’s continuously improved throughout her four years. I’d like to see (Stricklin) score consistently in the 90’s through 18 holes as our No. 3.”

Massac County will return senior Madie Coakley and junior Lily Conkle, and look to replace three seniors that finished alongside Coakley and Conkle in state from a year ago.

“We have been able to replace our seniors pretty well in the past, so with Maddie and Lily returning they’ll be fighting for that No. 1 spot,” said Lady Patriots coach Laurie Glass. “We have two juniors in McKinnley Korte and Alexis Srazine that have a lot of experience and a group of hard-working sophomores.”

Dan Breslin’s Pinckneyville Lady Panthers will return senior Kally Mayo after losing three state-qualifying seniors from last season. Mayo will be accompanied by two returning sophomores in Breyona Schandl and Zoey Bremmeier, who both earned their way to state as freshmen.

“Losing three seniors like Megan Breslin, Sarah Breslin, and Graci McDaniel is going to be tough when you’re going up against schools like Massac County,” said the returning Coach of the Year recipient Breslin. “We’re young and have a terrific group of sophomores and a promising freshman in Maddy Lynch.”

“It helps that some of these girls have already seen other teammates succeed and hopefully that motivation can be the starting gun for the younger girls.”

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