The graduation of Haley Edwards brought an end to a run of dominance enjoyed by her and her sisters, an era that lasted for the better part of a decade.
While Edwards and Melissa Wilkerson are gone, the Wolverines do return most of their team from last season. One of those players is Taylor Coover, now a junior, who often challenged Edwards for the role of the team’s low scorer. As Coover is one of only three juniors on the roster, the Wolverines are a young team.
Deer Valley will also be out for revenge this year. After winning the regular season title, they lost to Liberty by two shots in the BVAL tournament.
The Lions are led by seniors Marissa Apadaca, Morgan Hernandez and Lei Wei. All four are in their fourth year as Liberty golfers. Wei won the individual title at the BVAL meet last year.
“These three seniors are great leaders, players that will help our team contend for a league title,” head coach Josh Ellcessor said. “The greatest attribute that will help us contend for a title this season is the team’s ability to support and help one another through good and bad times.”
Liberty opened its season with a 212-239 win over Granada, which won the East Bay Athletic League championship last season.
The Lions’ goal is to win the first regular season BVAL title in the school’s history. And as Kastyn Sugimoto (now playing for Fresno City College) is the only departure from the 2010 squad, they’re equipped to do just that.
“I’m very impressed with how we’ve started the season,” Ellcessor said. “Our strengths this season are leadership, experience and a great work ethic.”
The Falcons will be led by juniors Andrea Neilson, Kaylin Ackerman and sophomore Genevieve Pascale. Their primary loss from 2010 is Miranda Herman. “There is some work to be done,” head coach Krista Plumlee said. “But I see a lot of potential for some good play.”
According to Plumlee, her players are driven by strong personalities and experience.
In addition to Neilson, Ackersman and Pascale, the Falcons field three seniors: Taylor Morrow, Ilyssa Silva and Monica Williams.
Neilson was one of the top players in the BVAL last season. She carded an 82 to earn a spot in the sudden-death tiebreaker at the BVAL Championships won by Wei.
While the team is loaded with personality and knowledge of the game, Plumlee is concerned that her players might lack the drive and ambition to contend for a league title.
Sophomore Megan Conder hopes to help the Patriots develop a family legacy of their own. Her sister Lauren, now a University of Richmond sophomore, was dominant in her four years at Heritage. Megan, who shot a 76 to qualify for the North Coast Section playoffs, was one of the league’s top players last year.
She improved over the summer, playing in the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach while paired with touring pro Tom Purtzer. Part of her week featured a sparkling 69 on her own ball in her round at Pebble Beach.
Megan will lead the Patriots effort to compete for a league championship.
The Panthers field a young team in 2011. Kelsey Cast and Toni Herrington have graduated, while senior Nicolette Redfearn is the team’s top returning player. Head coach John Luis knows that the team will experience growing pains this year, but doesn’t offer any predictions.
“We are inexperienced and will be learning as we go,” he said.
With the exception of Redfearn, very little is set in stone for the young Antioch team.