Graduation took its toll on the Maryville boys golf team last spring.
After losing four of its top five players from a unit that finished second at state, the rebuilding Hounds were unable to make it back to state as a team and finished fourth in the MEC.
A down year by their recent standards, the Hounds have the requisite parts and experience necessary for a quick rise back to prominence.
Maryville returns four of its top five from a year ago, including three-time state qualifier and defending sectional champion Trey Maughan, and has filled the two open spots in its varsity lineup with a pair of promising new additions.
"I'm thinking we can go to state as a team again this year," said Maryville head coach Brenda Ricks. "In a year like this, it's beyond comprehension how good that feels to have those guys that I know are going to be good and strong. They know golf and they want it just as bad as anybody would because they've been there. They're all feeling like we're going to be a good strong team as a varsity."
Maryville's projected varsity lineup consists of Maughan, senior Kyle Leslie, junior Dustin Wolters, junior Wade Tobin, freshman Hunter Hayes and sophomore Hagen Snow. Only Hayes and Snow were non-varsity players last year.
Maughan is the most accomplished of the bunch, having played on varsity and gone to state each of his first three years of high school.
He qualified individually last year by winning the Class 2 Sectional 4 Tournament and finished a career-best 37th at state.
As a senior, he has a great chance of improving upon that.
"Trey went down to state last year and did really good the first day," said Ricks. "The second day, it got in his head a little bit. I don't know if he agrees with that, but that's my opinion. I think he's going to be good and solid this year."
Leslie, a member of the Hound football and basketball teams, and Wolters both qualified for sectionals as first-year varsity players last year and fell a few strokes short of making the cut for state.
Tobin also has a year of varsity experience under his belt and should benefit from recent back surgery to alleviate pain that bothered him on the course last year.
Ricks has very high hopes for Hayes whose played competitively on the junior golf circuit throughout middle school.
He's expected to be a solid contributor right away and could push for one of the top three spots in Maryville's lineup.
Snow, the lineup's other new member, is taking the place of Andy Klaas who injured his hip and is out for the season.
Page 2 of 2 - Snow lacks high school experience, but has played frequent recreational golf during the summer at the country club with Hayes and others.
While the top six is set for now, Ricks has yet to determine which spots each golfer will play in during the year but expects the top four to be bunched pretty close together.
Opportunities for the Hounds to sort that out have been few and far between so far because they've had to spend most of their practice time indoors.
"We've come up to the middle school and had red Solo Cup practices along the wall," said Ricks. "They putt to the red Solo Cup."
With a compressed schedule, Ricks expects her team to get comfortable on the course pretty quickly.
Maryville plays in six tournaments and four duals over the next month. The Hounds open their season at the first-ever Show-ME MO Tournament at the Lake of the Ozarks today.
It's a three-day 18-hole event that includes 10 schools, including Class 2 fourth place finisher Barstow.
Maryville has three MEC dual meets the next week before going to tournaments in Shenandoah, Cameron and Richmond.
The MEC Tournament is at Fairview Golf Course in St. Joseph Apr. 15 where the Hounds will try to unseat defending champion Savannah.
Districts are April 29 at Shrikey Golf Course in Richmond.
The top two teams and top 15 individuals go on to the sectional meet May 6 at Blue Springs Country Club.