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GOLF: Season preview: Chambersburg returns everybody, and adds more firepower

CHAMBERSBURG >> Chambersburg golf coach Mark Yost is in an enviable situation most years. After all, his Trojans are riding a 138-match winning streak and have won six consecutive Mid Penn division championships.

The 2015 season – which begins today with a Mid Penn Colonial Division tournament at Greencastle Golf Club at noon – certainly looks like more of the same.

The top six golfers from the team that went 30-0 last fall all return, and Yost believes they are all better. Throw in a talented freshmen class that might hijack some of the spots in matches from the six veterans, and you have the makings of another heavy favorite.

"I don't know what the other teams have, so you never know," said the serially understated Yost. "What's nice is that all of our returners have improved."

Seniors Jordan Shaffer (78.1 average) and Ian Patterson (80.6) had the best averages and both qualified for the District 3 Tournament, although both tied for 25th and did not advance to regionals.

The other three regular starters included Tom Shearer (sr., 81.7), Evan Vink (sr., 82.8) and Luke Ocker (jr., 84.7), while senior Kody Bodner (87.8) also qualified for the Mid Penn Tournament.

Yost said, "Jordan played in some tournaments this summer and Ian is coming around now. Shearer was a pleasant surprise last year as a rookie, and I've seen a lot of improvement from him."

Two seniors – Austin Suders and Brady Hunt – are new to the team, as is sophomore Chase Wenger.

Then there is the freshman class of four that may make an impact. Karsen Rush comes in with a budding reputation as a big hitter with his 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame. Also in the group are Spencer Rajtik and Grayson Hopple, as well as the only female on the team, Mary Kate Norcross.

"Karsen is the most anticipated addition," Yost said. "He's a big kid and he's played in tournaments all through the season, and he's playing well. He's one of a nice freshman class that should come in and join with the experienced players to add to the team. I think some of the freshmen will compete with the others for getting time in the matches."

The Trojans will be playing under slightly different rules this season. Instead of playing six players and scoring the top five for the team competition in league matches, coaches can bring along seven players. But they must pick the five who count before the play starts, then count the best four scores.

"The good thing is, we can bring one more player than last year," Yost said. "The sixth and seventh guys won't count for the match, but their scores will count for Mid Penn averages and they could still qualify for the league tournament. So it means perhaps one more kid could qualify for Mid Penns.

"And it aligns things more with the postseason – in districts and states you count only the top four scores."

Postseason is definitely something Chambersburg is planning for.

NOTES >> The Trojans host their league meet on Sept. 2 at Penn National, which is in the second year of hosting the team ... Chambersburg will also play in the Central Dauphin Invitational this Saturday at Dauphin Highlands ... Yost is almost certain to pick up his 500th career victory, perhaps as early as today – his teams are 497-53 over 16 years.