|The Monett Cubs golf team was a force to be reckoned with last season.||The Cubs won the Big 8 Conference, finished in the top three of every tournament in which they played and had an individual place second in the state tournament.|
This year, the Cubs hope to keep the ball rolling.
"I think we will be very competitive again in the conference," said Monett coach Derrek Uhl. "We host the conference tournament which will be an advantage for us. Carl Junction, Cassville and Mt. Vernon will all be tough this year."
The golfing Cubs return a solid core from last year's squad and look to mix in several new faces.
Returning for Monett is one of the state's best players, Jacob Fair.
Fair, a senior, finished first in the conference and district tournaments and was a stroke away from securing a state title. During the off-season, Fair committed to play collegiate golf at the University of Missouri.
Travis Thompson also returns for the Cubs. Thompson garnered All-Conference honors last year with his out standing play.
"Jacob and Travis are as good as any two players in the conference," said Uhl. "We need to figure out who the three other players will be that will start with them. We will have a lot of competition for those last three spots. I expect that we will have four or five who actually play in those last three spots."
Competing for those last three spots are: seniors, Tyler Webb, Bryan Beckwith, Dillon Freudenthal and Grant Lay; junior, Will Snider; and freshmen, Garret Craig, Jeremy McVay, Hunter Williams, Nathan Webb, Kelly Seitz, Michael Childress and Collin Randles.
"The freshman group is a big," said Uhl. "There are a couple that will push the older guys."
Monett opens the season next Tuesday at Aurora.
The Monett tennis Cubs finished 7-4 last year and enjoyed a fine season under coach Bob Crain.
Change however, is inevitable. The Cubs lost five of its top six players to graduation and return only one starter.
This season, the roster contains three juniors and 14 freshmen.
"I am afraid this will be a developing year," said Crain. "With no seniors, this group will get a lot of experience in match play, which will help tremendously in the future. We lack the depth of the last two years, but hopefully the freshmen will stay with the team."
Junior Andrew Gilliam is the only returning starter. He played in the number two singles spot last year and will start this year's campaign at the number one singles spot.
"Andrew has improved his serve tremendously for this season," said Crain, "something he needed to compete at the one position."
New to the tennis team this season are: Matthew Childress, Michael Cooper, Dulton Dunn, George Fulton, Elijah George, Wesley Kilgore, Garrett Linahan, Tanner Marney, Oscar Martinez, Jeffery Ogle, Jacob Ridings, Austin Ross, Jario Rueda, Luiz Salas, Shane Solomon, Justin Springston and Kole Eden-Polach.
Crain knows how important the regular season will be for his young Cubs.
"Many of our district teams are conference teams and most of them have several returning lettermen," said Crain. "Mt. Vernon and Thomas Jefferson finished at the top of districts last year. TJ didn't lose any varsity to graduation. Carl Junction will be tough also."
The Cubs open the season on Tuesday, March 27 at Carl Junction. Matches are set to begin at 4:30 p.m.