Johnson County girls golf preview

The competitive spirit is still very much alive inside of Cale Hoover. He’s just found a healthier outlet for it.

After more than a decade in the super-intense world of high school wrestling, Hoover stepped down as the head wrestling coach at Center Grove. This fall, he’ll be leading another group of Trojans instead — the girls golf team.

Hoover got his feet wet on the course the past two springs as an assistant for the Center Grove boys, but he’s relishing the opportunity to steer his own ship. And though golf is a bit more laid-back than wrestling, he’s clearly taking his new job just as seriously.

"The big thing now is being responsible for what we’re going to do in practice every day," Hoover said. "Many people think you’re just going to hit the course and go play nine holes after school every day, and that’s not the case. So thinking about, on a day where we’re going to stay on the putting green and the driving range, what drills are we going to focus on? What type of putting drills, what type of short game drills?

"You and I could buy a bucket of balls and go smack them around, but that’s not necessarily going to make us better. So what do we want to do? What are we going to focus on?"

Hoover says he’s been spending a good deal of time studying not only his own lineup, but also those of the teams he’ll face in the county, conference and postseason tournaments.

But while he’s clearly still serious about winning, his stress level has dropped considerably of late. Hoover, who had struggled with high blood pressure in the past, has to shoulder significantly less organizational responsibility in the offseason with golf, leaving him with a little more down time.

"It’s definitely very different," he said. "Not having the youth infrastructure to worry about is substantial. I would be out getting ready for all the back-to-school nights, putting all the things in place so we could start recruiting kids into our youth wrestling program. I would have been doing that the last two weeks."

His biggest preseason headaches now? Working with local golf courses to line up the Trojans’ practice schedule and making sure all of his girls had the paperwork turned in from physical exams in time to start practice.

With all of that taken care of, his primary concern is getting the most out of a Center Grove lineup that returns almost intact from a year ago. Senior Lucy Young, the Daily Journal’s Player of the Year last fall, leads a promising young lineup that figures to again contend for county and sectional championships.

Hoover will be setting the same high bar that he did for his wrestlers. He just can’t necessarily display the same fire out on the course as he did on the mats.

"The drive to win and all of those things are the same, but you don’t have the same intensity," Hoover said. "You’re typically trying to keep people even keel, not getting too high and  not getting too low, and that kind of starts with yourself.

"Obviously, I still want us to do really well and I still want us to perform our best every time out, but … it’s just a different vibe."

Just make sure not to mistake Hoover’s exterior calmness for proof that he’s going soft.

"Inside, that still burns pretty bright," he said. "I’ve never been involved in anything that I didn’t want to win."

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title="Scouting the county" ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

A look at Johnson County’s high school girls golf teams:

<span style="text-decoration: underline">Center Grove Trojans</span>

Coach: Cale Hoover

Last season: Won county and sectional titles, ninth at Roncalli Regional

Key returnees: Lucy Young, senior; Hope Davis, Maddie Heineman and Kat Moore, juniors; Savannah Burk, Meg Fosnot and Lauren Pagel sophomores

Top newcomers: Nora Ader, Lanie DeHaven and Jozi Wilson, freshmen

Outlook: First-year coach Hoover has the county’s top returning player in Young, who is expected to qualify for state this fall. How far the Trojans can go as a team will depend largely on the supporting cast, which figures to be led by Fosnot and Pagel — both of whom contributed as freshmen last season. As usual, Center Grove is the local favorite until someone proves otherwise.

<span style="text-decoration: underline">Edinburgh Lancers</span>

Coach: Doug Weddle

Last season: Fifth at Bloomington North Sectional

Key returnees: Bethany Burton and Emma Wade, seniors; Morgan Calhoun, sophomore

Top newcomers: Haven Link and Maddie McGaha, juniors

Outlook: Though the Lancers graduated top player Vanessa McManaway, Weddle believes the Lancers should still be able to remain competitive within the Mid-Hoosier Conference. He is confident that some of his more inexperienced players can make in-season gains and help support the three returning veterans. Calhoun, who played well as a freshman, is likely to fill the No. 1 spot in the lineup.

<span style="text-decoration: underline">Franklin Grizzly Cubs</span>

Coach: Chris Kacarab

Last season: Third at Center Grove Sectional, eighth at Roncalli Regional

Key returnees: Taylor Drake, senior; Emily Miller and Alexa Wilkison, juniors; Ellie Beavins, Liv Parramore and Carly Woodward, sophomores

Top newcomer: Ava Ray, freshman

Outlook: With several key pieces back from the county’s top regional finisher, Kacarab feels as though the Grizzly Cubs can compete with just about anyone this fall and perhaps even have an outside shot at qualifying for state. Talented rookie Ray joins a strong veteran nucleus of Drake, Parramore and Beavins at the top of what should be a very solid Franklin lineup.

<span style="text-decoration: underline">Greenwood Woodmen</span>

Coach: Brittany Runge

Last season: Second at Mt. Vernon Sectional, 17th at Lapel Regional

Key returnees: Bridget Lindstrom and Laila Stein, seniors; Maecee Terhune, Taylor Watson and Maeci West, juniors; Rheannah Hoover, sophomore

Top newcomers: Caroline Marot and Ileni Montalzo, seniors; Mara Guilfoy and Madison Shaffer, freshmen

Outlook: With everyone back from a regional qualifying team, Runge is optimistic about the Woodmen’s chances of climbing into the top half of both the county and the Mid-State Conference. The blend of veterans, led by the likes of Terhune, and newcomers such as Guilfoy should make for a balanced lineup that can build on last year’s postseason successes.

<span style="text-decoration: underline">Greenwood Christian Cougars</span>

Coach: Shannon Witte

Last season: Ninth at Mt. Vernon Sectional

Key returnees: Sophia Valant, junior; Ashton Witte, sophomore

Outlook: Shannon Witte feels good about the Cougars’ chances of repeating as PAAC champion — provided they can find enough players to fill out a lineup. Ashton Witte and Valant should again be among the top players in the league, but they’re currently the only ones out for GCA. The hope is that more will join them once school starts this week.

<span style="text-decoration: underline">Indian Creek Braves</span>

Coach: Rose Moore

Last season: Third at Bloomington North Sectional, 18th at Washington Regional

Key returnees: Lauren Parsley and Caitlin Snyder, seniors; Jacqui Button, junior; Annie Stephens, sophomore

Top newcomers: Brooke Coy and Jozie Farris, juniors; Ally Koron, sophomore

Outlook: The top of the lineup is solid with Parsley and Button, both of whom could reach the regional as individuals, but getting that far as a team will be a bit tougher after the Braves’ depth took a hit. How far Indian Creek can go might depend on how quickly the new players can pick the game up after never having played before.

<span style="text-decoration: underline">Whiteland Warriors</span>

Coach: Crystal Morse

Last season: Fifth at Center Grove Sectional

Key returnees: Bri Harwell, senior; Kierra Mitchell and Allie Watson, juniors; Lucy Gearhart, sophomore

Top newcomer: Tara Watson, freshman

Outlook: Led by Harwell, who has the ability to make the state tournament in her final season, the Warriors should be highly competitive. With the younger Watson coming in to bolster a solid lineup, Morse believes that Whiteland has a chance to compete for a top-three position in the county, Mid-State Conference and sectional tournaments.