Park Hill South’s task sounds simple yet will be so difficult.
Replacing a player of Tanner Owen’s caliber can’t be done with one person. He became just the second in history for the Panthers to earn all-state honors two years in a row, winning the Sectional 4 title the week before for the last of his five career tournament victories.
However, Park Hill South coach Tracy Mangels said 12 players were posting nine-hole scores in the 40s during tryouts this year, up from six a year ago.
“We’re really excited about that, to get the team set and see kind of where everybody starts out, and now we can really focus on the team and improve their game and see what we need to work on the most,” he said. “We lost a Division I golfer to Nebraska so that’s going to be hard to fill but our depth is going to create competition amongst the team, something that we’re really excited about.”
Zach Bischler, a senior, leads the returners after he tied Owen for third in Class 4 District 8 play as a junior. Bischler went on to shoot 11-over in Sectional 4 competition — just two shots away from joining Owen at state.
Matthew Dieleman will be the only other returner from the five-man lineup that placed third in District 8 as a team, two shots out of advancing to sectionals.
“I’ve put in a lot of work the past four years, and I think it’s going to pay off this year,” Bischler said. “We put in a lot of work over the summer, and I think we’ll be a little more involved this year than ever before.”