The Monroe City golf team brings 13 eager competitors into the new season under coach Rod Galloway.

Monroe City golf coach Rod Galloway enters his 15th season coaching on the links. His Panthers team this season marks the largest group he has ever had.

“I knew I would have four coming back from last year for sure, but to have 13 this year, that is just remarkable,” the veteran coach said. “When I had my organization meeting before the start of the season, I really didn’t know what to expect. But then they just kept coming in. I am tickled to death.”

Although the Panthers are mighty in numbers, the team is thin on experience.

“We will be pretty young,” Galloway said. “We have a wide range of experience, but after nearly two weeks of practice, I am pleased where we are. They all are willing to listen when we show them something, whether it be with their swing or checking each other out and holding each other accountable.

“It’s kind of interesting and fun to see the enthusiasm they all have right now.”

Gone from last year are a pair of varsity golfers in state finalist Blake Elsberry and three-year starter Caitlin Saunders.

“Not only are we going to miss their scoring, but we are going to miss both of their senior leadership,” the Panthers coach said of his graduated golfers. 

Returning to the links for Monroe City will be varsity players Danny Dennison, Evan Janes and Mason Reyes. 

“We will rely on Evan and Danny quite a bit this year to step up and lead us,” Galloway said. “They are both just sophomores, but they have been through it last year and know what to expect and I think they will be good for us.” 

Galloway mentioned Reyes and senior Layne Pryor, who both enter their second season with the program, will be expected to show a strong work ethic to the younger golfers.

“They both have a good work ethic, which will be a good influence for our younger ones,” the coach said of his two upperclassmen.

Sophomore Ryan Kendrick and freshman Landon Shinn are two younger players who also have experience on the links. 

“Ryan and Landon both have played and have a good working knowledge of the game,” the Panthers coach said. “Although Landon is new to the high school program, I have noticed him out on the course a lot with his father and a few other golfers a lot, especially on Thursday night (league night). And Landon is another one of those who just already has a good work ethic.”

Rounding out the Panthers roster will be junior Savannah Hetzler, sophomore Ean Ritter and freshmen Clara Minor and Cecil Masterson.

“This bunch really reminds me of my first team,” Galloway said. “They all are just so competitive against each other, whether it be putting in the hallway or any other drill. I think their competitive nature is really going to pay off in the end for us.”

Galloway said although it’s still too early to put a scoring number on where he expects his team to be this year, one number is always the goal.

“For us right now, to tell them we want to break 200 as a team may be a little too much to start,” the Panthers coach stated. “With the lack of experience, in the first match or two if we can be around 240 or even 220, I think that is more realistic. But then again this group may surprise me.

“And of course, 200 is always the goal, and I think we could have the potential to get there before the year is over.”

Monroe City opens up its season on March 20 at Paris.