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Photos by Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Senior Annie Butchko returns to lead Homestead, which won a sectional last season.
Girls golf

5 TO WATCH

Jaycee Bunner has been a one-person team at Blackhawk Christian. Younger sister Kaycee joins her.

One star golfer is missing this year, while depth and balance seem to be in for 2013.

East Noble’s Katie Sharp has graduated and will be playing for Michigan State, taking a ton of accolades and some near-misses at the state finals over the years. Sharp finished second at state twice, last year and in 2010, while also getting a fifth place in 2009 and 11th in 2011.

“You don’t get golfers like that very often,” East Noble coach Richard Bentz said of Sharp. “We will trade her score in the mid-30s (for a nine-hole match) for a score in the lower 50s. It will be tough.”

Here is a look at some of the top players, teams and stories this season, which begins Monday.

Individuals

Jaycee Bunner, Blackhawk Christian: The junior had a busy summer competing in various tournaments with a decent amount of success.

Katie Skidmore, DeKalb: The sophomore is expected to be one of the top golfers in the area but has been slowed by a knee injury.

Annie Butchko, Homestead: The senior is the Spartans’ No. 1 player for a reason and is looking to help the team improve on its 2012 sectional championship.

Mikayla Mawhorter, Wawasee: The sophomore advanced to the regional as the top individual without a team coming out of the Warsaw Sectional.

Kori Thompson, New Haven: The senior finished second at the Norwell Sectional, advancing to the regional.

Teams

Homestead: The Spartans are solid with returning seniors Butchko, Courtney DelaCuesta and Alyssa Hoffman as their top three players.

DeKalb: Even with Skidmore dealing with her injury, the Barons will be good with seniors Christy Williams and Sydney Weghorst and juniors Hope Kelham and Kelsey Helmkamp.

Warsaw: The Tigers were fifth at the regional and have seniors Nikki LaLonde and Elizabeth Meadows and junior Alexis Manwaring taking turns playing at the No. 1 spot.

Bishop Dwenger: Senior Nellie Lee and junior Katie Giant give the Saints a solid 1-2 punch, and the core is also solid with senior Mackenzie Dick and junior Amanda Miller.

East Noble: The Knights had Sharp graduate, but they will return juniors Alyn Clark and Rebecca Alwine, senior Logan Handshoe and sophomore Cooper Handshoe.

Storylines

Katie Sharp gone: In Sharp’s place – not just at East Noble but also around northeast Indiana – will be multiple players looking to step up, lead their respective teams and make a name for themselves.

Starting off the season: Most teams will get a chance to play in plenty of invitationals to start the season. In the first week alone, there will be about a dozen invites that teams will use for good competition and help set their lineups.

Bunner II: It appears junior Jaycee Bunner, who has been a one-man team for Blackhawk Christian the last two years, will get some company this year in the form of her freshman sister Kaycee.

New Homestead coach: The Spartans have a new coach, Jeff Jehl, after the appropriately named Michelle Swing decided it was tough splitting her time between coaching and running a golf course.

SAC surge: With the Saints and players like South Side senior Zoe Brehm and Northrop junior Stevie Luebbert looking to make noise again in the postseason, could the SAC be on the upswing?

gjones@jg.net

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