The 2014-15 sports season will officially begin Monday when the Butte High and Butte Central golfers jump into action.
Butte High will play at the two-day Great Falls Invitational. Monday’s round will be at Meadow Lark Country Club. The tournament will conclude Tuesday at the Eagle Falls Golf Club. Monday’s round begins at 1 p.m. Tuesday’s play begins at 8:30 a.m.
The Maroons will compete at the Anaconda Invitational at the Old Works at 8 a.m.
Butte High brings back some successful experience on the girls’ side. The Bulldog boys feature a young, promising collection of players.
On the girls’ side, Butte High is undoubtedly led by senior Shealyn Hafer. She has earned All-State honors in each of her first three seasons as a Bulldog. Hafer played in the Girls’ Junior America’s Cup and the Montana/Alberta Ryder Cup this summer. She qualified for those events at the Montana State Junior Championships.
Classmate Hailey Ogolin also brings some experience to the Bulldogs. The four-year varsity player for the Bulldogs also had a strong summer, winning her overall age group title in the South West Montana Junior Golf Tour.
Hafer and Ogolin were key players on teams that finished second at the Class AA state tournament in 2011 and 2013.
Sophomore Alexis Williams also brings state tournament experience back to the Bulldog lineup. Williams, who played through a pair of wrist injuries last year, won the 14-15 age group tour title in the SWJGT.
Newcomers this year are freshman Sadie Starcevich and senior Ashten McCloskey.
Starcevich will debut as a varsity player in Great Falls, while McCloskey will have to wait a week because she doesn’t have the required practices in to compete.
McCloskey will also play soccer for the Bulldogs this season.
“She’s going to help us before it’s all said and done,” Butte High coach Eric Mankins said.
Despite losing to key players, including Montana Grizzly Hailey Hoagland, Mankins feels his girls’ team is ready to compete for another trophy at state.
“We’ve just got to stay focused and keep improving,” the coach said.
On the boys’ side, the No. 1 player for the opener will be a freshman.
Isaiah Weldon earned that distinction during qualifying leading up to the tournament. He is coming off a second-place showing in the 14-15 age group in the SWMJGT.
Junior Trey Hoagland is the No. 2 player. He played at state for Bulldogs the last two seasons.
Junior Will Kilmer is a returning state player who won the 16-17 age group in the SWJGT. He will be the No. 3 player to start the season.
Sophomore Houston Green, the 14-15 title winner in the SWMJGT, made the team at No. 4. He also played at state for the Bulldogs in 2013.
Senior Levin Mullaney, also a state player a year ago, rounds out the top five for the Bulldogs.
Butte High has several junior varsity players who will also vie for varsity time. Juniors Tucker Thatcher and Eric Fogerty have varsity experience. Zach Hanni, Will Hoagland and J.J. Mohr will join those two on the JV team Monday in Anaconda.
“We have very good, young talent,” Mankins said.
Zach Bair takes over as head coach for the Butte Central golf team this season. He has 11 boys and one girl out for the team.
The one girl, tough, is one player Bair knows he can count on. Regan Weldon enters her junior season with two years of playing at the state tournament under her belt.
“She’s someone who made state the last two years,” Bair said. “That is nice to have on our first year as head coach.”
Like Butte High, the Maroon boys will have a freshman as their No. 1 player.
Tyge Yelenich was the best player during the team’s qualifying tournament late last week.
“He’s pretty good,” Bair said of Yelenich. “I saw him golf all summer long.
Junior Bryan Arnold will be the No. 2 player to open the season. He will be followed by juniors Sam Joyce and Zach Lubeck. Sophomore Frank Dwyer will round out the lineup.