WINONA LAKE — Grace’s men’s golf team may have one of the youngest teams in the Crossroads League, but the Lancers have high hopes for the 2019-20 season.
The Denny Hepler-coached team has no seniors on the eight-player roster, and five of the players are freshmen or sophomores.
But despite that youth, Hepler believes that “this could be one of the finest teams assembled at Grace in quite some time. We could be very dangerous this year,” Hepler said.
The Lancers placed seventh at the NCCAA National Championships in 2018, the team’s second trip in three years to the national tournament. Hepler is hoping that Grace can better that finish this fall at nationals, aiming for a top-three result.
To achieve that, Grace will need its returners to play well in big moments. The Lancers return three juniors (Isaiah Brown, Camden Gongwer, Tim Rata) as well as two sophomores (Jacob Abrahamson, Noah Wright) who were integral to Grace’s success last year.
Wright posted an average round score of 77.17 as a freshman last year to lead the Lancers, and Abrahamson was just behind him at 77.65 during his freshman campaign.
Hepler was excited to see his freshmen hit the course this preseason. Chase Byron (Warsaw HS), Payton Kelly (Avon HS) and Blake Lawson (Worthington Christian, Ohio) should all push for playing time immediately after successful high school careers.
The Lancers are already strong off the tee, boasting several players who can drive the ball well. But Hepler noted for the team to reach its potential, the Lancers will need to improve their short game.
“We have six players who can absolutely bomb the ball, and that is very important in this day,” Hepler said. “But if we continue to improve on our short game, then the sky’s the limit. I’m excited to see how we develop.”
The Lancers start their season on Friday with the Trine Invitational at Zollner Golf Course.