ARMOLD: Eastern York golf team enters season of great expectations
Sometimes a gift can also be a curse.
If this summer is any indication, Eastern York golf figures to again be the team to beat in York-Adams Division II. Eastern also looks like a contender for the league's team title as well.
The Golden Knights return a talented trio in seniors Kevin Crumbling and Andrew Davis and junior Zach Dixon. Also, junior Alexandra Lowder figures to be a key contributor to round out the expected top four for Eastern.
But with the abundance of talent comes the bedevilment — expectations.
And the Knights don't just want to live up to their expectations, they want to exceed them.
Eastern will start by trying to defend its Division II title and has its sights set on that league crown, as well as a trip to the District 3-AAA Team Tournament.
These Knights, however, aren't letting any predictions of prosperity hinder their focus. Their summer success has given them a quiet confidence they look to carry into the varsity season.
Crumbling won the York County Amateur Golf Association junior stroke play championship earlier this month, and also picked up a pair of victories on the York County Junior Golf Association's summer tour.
The senior looks to be the leader of the group. After all, he did card Division II's lowest average last season at 73.1 strokes.
"We should be pretty solid," Crumbling said. "All together, we all got better over the summer season and we feel like we're going to be strong this year."
Lowder was the girls' YCAGA stroke play champion and also recorded a win during the summer tour's stop at Regents' Glen. She's hoping that summer success can provide the confidence necessary to compete in varsity play. While saying she's excited for the chance, she did say that slipping into the role of steady contributor for a team expected to excel comes with some pressure. But, she knows she can rely on the talent around her.
"I see medalists," Lowder said, when asked what she sees for the team this season. "The goal is districts and we're just going to play our best."
Davis took home the YCJGA's match play title. His 74.9 stroke average in 2014 was third best in the division. Dixon's 77.4 stroke average was good enough for sixth best in the division a season ago.
"There's a lot of good energy coming off the summer," Davis said. "Me and Kevin obviously played well; Zach was consistent the whole summer and Alex has been getting a lot better as well. We have good players here and we're looking to do good things this season."
Crumbling, Davis and Dixon were also members of the YCJGA's War of the Roses team that helped York capture its third straight victory in the series against cross-river rival Lancaster.
West York, the runner-up in Division II a year ago, loses all-star Axel Hartman as well as Trevor Sweitzer and Cole Rinehart to graduation, which could make things a bit easier for the Knights.
Division I: Central York will look to both repeat as Division I champ and give the Golden Knights a formidable foe come the league's team tournament. The Panthers also return some top talent and benefit from a little luck this season as well.
Back are seniors Gus Minkin and Connor Bacha, as well as junior Julianne Lee. Another solid performer from a season ago returns in Matthew Bricker.
Lee was a three-time winner on the YCJGA summer tour, as well as capturing the match play championship.
New to the Central York squad this season is York Catholic transfer Joe Parrini — the sophomore won the District 3-AA title last season with the Irish. He also helped York Catholic capture the York-Adams Division III title and the league's team championship.
While the Golden Knights will have to lean heavily on a core four throughout the year, by contrast, Central coach Mike Ruby was pleased with his team's depth.
"We're very deep," Ruby said. "I'd say, right now, I have probably 10 kids that can, on any given day, break 80. And then, of course, those top four at any time could break par on the courses we're going to be playing. It looks to be a very promising year."
Ruby said Dallastown is "always tough" and will likely offer a tough divisional challenge for the Panthers. The Wildcats return junior Blake Sebring and sophomore Even Greenplate. New Oxford also figures to be strong.
Ruby also noted that the Golden Knights figure to be Central's chief competition in its quest for the county championship.
The Panthers hope to measure where they stand early in the season, taking an opportunity to play in a Manheim Township-hosted tournament Thursday. Township defeated the Panthers in last season's District 3-AAA Team Tournament.
Division III: With Joe Parrini's move to Central and sister Lauren Parrini's graduation — combined with the graduation of two-time reigning York-Adams champion Nick Geiman — York Catholic's hold on the division crown will be tough to maintain.
The Irish are also the reigning District 3-AA team champions, another title that will be tough to defend without that wealth of talent. However, York Catholic will see the return of Andrew Forjan, a key contributor to last season's title team.
Delone Catholic was the runner-up a year ago in the division, and the door might be open enough for the Squires to slide through and claim the crown.
New scoring format: There was a slight change made to the scoring format for York-Adams tournaments this offseason.
This year, teams will send six golfers out onto the course in an event, with the best four scores comprising each school's team score. Last season, the top five scores made up the team score.
— Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org; @EADispatch on Twitter