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WVC season in full swing

Last season’s champions are expected to be pushed by a strong field of contenders.

The 2009 Wyoming Valley Conference golf campaign is in full swing and two teams have as many as four wins already.

With that many matches already in the books and the annual Tom Tryba Preseason Tournament slated for Monday, competitions for championships are already heating up.

While every team is hopeful for a better season than 2008, as many as a dozen teams have high aspirations of a division and league championship.

The four division winners from last year – Crestwood, Holy Redeemer, Tunkhannock and Wyoming Seminary – are all at the top of the list for a possible repeat and a WVC championship. Squads like Berwick, Pittston Area and Dallas are notables among others in contention to keep those four from repeating.

Perhaps the most likely to challenge one of the four is Pittston Area going after Tunkhannock. The Patriots have started the season 4-0, including a one-stroke win over the Tigers, who have lost one of their best golfers in school history, Dakota Brown, to graduation.

“With Dakota being gone from Tunkhannock we should be the favorite to win the division,” Pittston Area coach Len Benfante said. “But they do have some good scorers there.”

Whichever teams come out on top in the 2009 season, the campaign is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in recent past.

Here’s a look at some other prominent storylines for the season:

Top Players

Brandon Matthews, So., Pittston Area: He became just the second freshman in five years to claim the championship in his first scholastic event when he won the Tryba Tournament last season. He then finished the Pre-District Tournament tied for the lead before falling in a three-way playoff.

Mike Napkori, Jr., Holy Redeemer: He was the only WVC boys golfer from a year ago to advance to the regional and state tournament. He ended placing sixth at the District 2 tournament, was 19th at the East Regional and placed 42nd at the PIAA Championships after a strong start.

Vicky Petrosky, Sr., Wyoming Area: She became the first Warriors district champion since her father, John, accomplished the feat in 1975. She followed that with a 14th-place finish at the East Regional Tournament, missing the cut to advance to states by just one shot.

Top Teams

Crestwood: The Comets are coming off an 11-1 campaign and a Southern Division championship. They lost some key players from that team, but have a lot of experience returning. They should be the favorite to claim the division title again and will be a strong contender for the overall league title.

Holy Redeemer: The Royals walked through the Central Division with ease last year, going 9-1 in the regular season before claiming the WVC championship. A strong cast returns from the team to make it a contender once again for the league title.

Pittston Area/Tunkhannock: One of these teams from the Eastern Division will be kept out of the league playoffs since only division winners advance. Let it be known however that either of these teams will be a great representative from the division and will have a super chance to claim the overall title.

The Tigers won the overall league title in 2007 and appear deeper than that team. The Patriots are the most talented they have been in a few years. In a matchup earlier this week, the Patriots won, but the difference was only one stroke.

Coaches staying and going

Sean McLaughlin replaces Paul Jobson at Meyers and Michael Morrison takes over for Frank Radice at MMI Prep.

Hanover Area coach Tom Tryba is now in his 37th year overall coaching high school golf, while Wyoming Area coach Len Coleman begins his 35th year leading the Warriors.

Mark Jarolen is in his 22nd season at Crestwood and Holy Redeemer’s Art Brunn Jr. and Dallas’ Tom Kilduff are both working their 20th season.

Key Dates

Monday: Tryba Preseason Tournament, Monday at Fox Hill Country Club

Monday, Sept. 28: Pre-District Tournament at Fox Hill Country Club

Wednesday, Sept. 30: Wyoming Valley Conference League Playoffs at Fox Hill Country Club

Monday, Oct. 5: District 2 Individual Championships at Elmhurst Country Club

Friday, Oct. 9: District 2 Team Championships at Fox Hill Country Club

Wednesday, Oct. 21: Regional Team Championships at Golden Oaks Golf Club, Fleetwood

Wednesday, Oct. 21: Regional Individual Championships at Golden Oaks Golf Club, Fleetwood

Sunday, Oct. 25: PIAA Championships Practice Round at Heritage Hills and Springwood Golf Course, York

Monday, Oct. 26: PIAA Championships at Heritage Hills and Springwood Golf Course, York

Tuesday, Oct. 27: PIAA Championships at Heritage Hills and Springwood Golf Course, York

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