When El Dorado tees off the 2020 golf season on Monday, the Lady Wildcats will return experience to the course while the Wildcats will rely on youth.
The boys’ roster includes Jon Brooks Elia, Keaton Michael, Miller Wallace, Preston Howard, Aaron Ezell, Sam York, Saxon Morgan, Brody McKinney, JT Polk, John Hollis, Nate Weinischke, Peyton Howard and Austin Jobe.
The girls’ roster features Aubrey Marx, Hope Walthall, Lani Hammock, Jana Powell, Alexa Hulsey, Sydney Marx, Brooke McCoy, Krystina Charles and Katie Benson.
El Dorado coach Chris Ezell will return the top of his girls’ lineup with Walthall and Aubrey Marx, who both earned all-conference honors a year ago. Hammock could be solid in the number three position.
“Our next three girls, Jana Powell, Alexa Hulsey and Sydney Marx have really battled it out during the tryouts and qualifiers with each one having success amongst the group. This should prove to be a competitive battle all season for that fourth spot on the playoff roster,” said Ezell.
Brooks, Howard, Aaron Ezell, Morgan and Hollis all earned varsity experience last season. Howard and Ezell were All-Conference performers while Brooks has taken the team’s No. 1 spot going into this season.
Michael, a freshman, and Wallace, a junior transfer from North Little Rock, lead the newcomers, starting the season in the second and third slots, respectively.
“They have jumped into this mix of veterans and have really added depth to our team at the top, which could give us a chance to contend for the 5A South,” said Coach Ezell. “Sam York is another freshman that really stood up and challenged the top-5 during qualifiers.”
The Lady Wildcats will return their entire lineup from last year. The coach expects to see improvement all around.
“Lani Hammock and Jana Powell are two that have made the biggest jumps up the ladder on the girls’ side,” said Ezell. “They have gone from the JV up to the varsity top four to start this season. Lani moved into the top four last year and will start off at the number three spot.”
Both teams have targeted the 5A South conference championship as reachable goals this season. Hot Springs Lakeside has been the league’s measuring stick, but El Dorado believes it is closing the gap talent-wise.
As for COVID-19, which shut down sports, world-wide for two months, Ezell said it shouldn’t be a factor for El Dorado’s golfers.
“COVID-19 has not really affected our players other than maybe annoying them for a moment to scan their temperatures and ask the mandated questions every day,” he said. “None of them have complained about it. I think everyone is just ready to move on from this and return to normal as long as we can do so in a safe manner. Having this first event to start the season will help in our student-athletes’ mental psyche toward that.”