By Lisa Kochanowski
SOUTH BEND — The sun is shining, birds are singing, and the spring sports season has arrived for the Saint Joseph High School Indians.
“We have a strong group of returning players this season and hope to be in the mix to compete for a conference and sectional championship and hopefully win a few of our tournaments along the way,” boys’ golf coach Bret Bajdek predicted for the season.
The team’s strength is the experience leading the tribe.
“We have three seniors: Tate Heintzelman-Dee (2015 regional qualifier), Will DeTrempe, and Kyle Killilea who have been competing since they were freshman. Add to that sophomore Michael Anthony who was a varsity player as well last year, and we have a very strong core. It is a good group of golfers and they get along well which makes the season enjoyable,” noted Bajdek. Finishing the season strong has always been a challenge for the team so Bajdek hopes the team can complete the season with a strong finish in tournaments.
Improvement is the goal for the golf season.
“If we can have a strong start at the Kaeppler, roll through a grinding NIC schedule, and be ready come playoff time, then this team has a good chance to compete in both the NIC and the sectional,” said Bajdek.
“Our expectations are high this season. Last year we lost in the Semi state round to the team that won State (Carmel). We ended the season ranked No. 4.
We graduated one senior from our line up, and we have some freshmen and reserves from last year that can very capably fill that vacated spot,” noted Bill Mountford, girls tennis coach.
Mountford said one of the team’s strength is having one of the best players in the state in sophomore Maddie Yergler. “We are truly blessed with great depth. The starting line up in high school tennis is seven players, and we really have ten very solid tennis players. Our junior varsity team has to be one of the very best in the state, and would defeat a large number of varsity teams out there,” noted Mountford.
He feels the team needs to be adaptive to the varying conditions of outdoor play in northern Indiana in springtime.
“We will be doing all that we can to improve every day. Our goal is to work hard, improve every day and have some fun out there,” said Mountford.
“This season is hard to predict due to the fact that we are so young — 19 out of 26 players in the program are freshmen or sophomores. However, we do have some good talent in every class,” said coach Earl Keith about his predictions for the season.
Keith feels the team’s strength is the leadership of senior captain Alyssa Gutierrez, a three-time all conference and two-time all state player. She leads by tremendous example with her awesome work ethic and class.
According to Keith, gaining experience by playing together and learning to trust and respect one another is the main focus to improve and mesh into a successful season.
“Goals for the season are to improve into a strong ‘team’ by mid season. Our lofty goals for success are to finish strong in our conference (top 3), and to win our sectional tournament to validate our improvement,” said Keith.
“This is our first season not combined with Marian High School. We had a strong turn out and will have a full bench to allow fresh legs for the starting line up. I believe we will have a great season, with a challenging schedule of seventeen games in a two-month span. We have several student athletes that have the potential to collect individual regional and state level awards. The season promises to offer great opportunities for learning and growth. We will grow mentally and physically together and unite to create a strong foundation for the future of Saint Joseph Girls’ Lacrosse,” said girls lacrosse coach Katie Neeser.
The team has worked hard the last several months and will need to continue to work on offense and taking initiative with the ball.
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