With the early return of students to the classroom this week, area high school sports teams are dealing with abbreviated practice schedules.
Normally at this time of year, Johnson County high school girls golf teams would be competing in almost daily 18-hole tournaments in preparation for the regular season.
But with the adoption of a balanced calendars, golf schedules are significantly shortened.
That’s not the only significant change for local teams.
For the past decade, Center Grove, Franklin, Greenwood, Indian Creek and Whiteland have all played in the same sectional. But a new IHSAA realignment has scattered local teams to different sectionals.
Center Grove will compete at the Southport Sectional at Southern Dunes Golf Course, which will include defending champion Roncalli. Meanwhile, Whiteland and Greenwood will be among 10-team field at the Mount Vernon (Fortville) Sectional.
Franklin and Indian Creek move to the Bloomington North Sectional at Cascades Golf Course.
What follows is a look at each of the county’s five girls teams.
With the graduation loss of starters Holly Paddack and Jessica Geitner, the 15th-ranked Trojans are in the early stages of rebuilding.
Senior Lauren Clute, a three-year starter, has decided not to return to dedicate more time to her music and theater interests.
“We still have a deep roster,” coach Jim Williams said.
Senior Colleen Gudeman, who missed last season with a knee injury, is back, as are seniors Jamie Geitner, Cassie Hendrickson and Jennifer Day. Also returning are junior Sydney Abbott and sophomore Marissa Anderson, who helped Center Grove finish second in last year’s Martinsville Sectional.
Center Grove hosts the annual Trojan Classic, featuring 21 teams on Saturday at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin.
Senior Hannah White, a regional qualifier last season, is back to lead the charge for the Grizzly Cubs under the direction of coach Curt Holcroft.
Lost to graduation were starters Erin Bush and Kathleen Stakelbeck.
“We’ll be young this year, but the kids are working hard, so I expect to see constant improvement as the season rolls on,” Holcroft said.
Other starters returning are senior Ciara Wright and junior Lexi Elliott.
Coming off their first ever trip to the IHSAA state finals, the Woodmen are confident of building on their recent success.
Starters Shelby Johnson, a junior, and sophomores Katie Lindstrom and Melanie Hughes are the top returning players. Greenwood also returns juniors Samantha Burkhead and Hannah Cross.
Siblings Taylor and Katie Allen are first-year members of the team.
Longtime coach Rose Moore is back to direct the Braves, who lost three-year starters Nikki Pahl and Emily Waltz to graduation.
The Braves return senior Tori Caudill, junior Kaitlin Smith and sophomore Hannah Johnson.
Also joining the team are freshmen newcomers Jessi Button and Bria Kirkham.
With state qualifier and three-year starter Alexa West returning for her senior year, second-year coach Kristen Welker is excited about the coming season.
“I expect Alexa West to be a vital member of the team,” Welker said. “She’s worked tirelessly on her game and will provide the necessary leadership at the top.”
West earned medalist honors, carding a 74 to lead her team to a Johnson County Tournament championship. She fired a 79 in the Warriors’ sectional title win at Martinsville’s Foxcliff Golf Club.
Despite the graduation loss of starters Paige Lundy and Shelby Dolen, Whiteland returns a number of players with significant experience. Sophomore Savannah Craven, an all-county performer from last year, is back along with junior Madison Dolen and sophomores Lauren Kumpf and Taylor Lucas.
Seniors Danielle Muldoon, Kennedy Joseph and Ashley Mason also are competing for a spot in the starting lineup.