Conner expected to lead more experienced Batavia golf squad

Another year older and another year wiser, the young Batavia golf team is looking to turn some heads and lower some scores on the links this year coming off of a fifth-place finish in the Southern Buckeye Conference National Division last year.

Led by junior standout Austin Conner, the Bulldogs are hoping to keep themselves in the thick of the SBC title hunt well into the colder months of the year. Head coach Randy Jones expects the 2012 edition of the Batavia golf team to be helped by the veteran leadership of eight upperclassmen.

“We’re definitely led by upperclassmen this year. Out of our 12 players, we have four seniors and four juniors,” Jones said. “This is definitely the most veteran club I’ve had and probably the most improved club I’ve had over the last few years.”

Conner, who was a First Team All-Southern Buckeye selection as a sophomore last year, is expected to be the teams ace and go out as the No. 1 guy in most of their matches.

“Our team is led by Austin Conner,” Jones said. “He’s capable of shooting in the high 30s or low 40s. He did make First Team last year and played a lot of golf over the summer.”

Conner will have solid company to back him up should he have a bad day.

“My two and three guys, a four-year letterman, Ben McDonough is right in the mid-40s and a first-year player, Austin Sammons, is going to play soccer and golf. This is his first year on the golf team, but he has looked really good.”

Jones is also looking for big seasons out of Eric Shinkle and Nick Johnson, a pair of seniors. Kyle Grant, another junior, is expected to have a good season as well.

Grant’s step-brother, Brady Parks, is a freshman this season and someone Jones thinks could become a key contributor both this year and going forward.

As far as expectations, Jones isn’t setting the bar low, he’s looking for a successful season from his squad.

“We want to come in first place in the league this year,” Jones said. “It’s going to be a challenge. In the past five years, this is probably the most wide-open the league has been. Blanchester has dominated our league over the last four years, but they graduated all but one of their golfers, so first place in the league would be our No. 1 goal.”

Jones still expects Blanchester to have a strong team, but he also thinks Georgetown and Williamsburg will also threaten for the top spot.

From a course standpoint, the Bulldogs will get the chance to tee it up on some of the best tracks in the area. While their home course of Elks Run is a solid test, Jones is excited for his team to play at Royal Oaks Country Club as well as Sharon Woods, the site of the sectional tournament.

With Sharon Woods in their sights for sectionals and Weatherwax hosting the district tournament, the Bulldogs have plenty to look forward to.

However, the team took its first steps towards sectionals on Tuesday, Aug. 14 with their first SBC match at Elks Run.