Replacing last year's senior class is never an easy task for a coach. They're the team leaders; often times the team's best players, and usually the soul of the team.
It's an especially tough task for first year University of Dayton Flyer head coach Gip Hoagland. Not only does Hoagland have to adjust to the rigors of collegiate golf, but manage a Flyer roster that includes six freshmen and zero seniors.
One look up and down the rest of the roster shows plenty of talent, leadership and potential. The challenge for Hoagland will be maximizing that promise into strong results on the golf course.
Of course, a big reason Hoagland doesn't have to stress about losing five seniors from last year's roster is one of the upper classmen he'll have this year - junior Chris Woeste.
Woeste, who will serve as a captain along with fellow junior and U.S. Amateur qualifier Jeff Hodapp, each figures to be among the best players in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Woeste, from nearby Kettering, Ohio, was the 2008 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year and a First Team, All-Atlantic 10 selection during his freshman season. Last year he finished second on the team in total rounds played with 27 and completed the year third in stroke average at 76.4.
Meanwhile Hodapp has started to fully put together his golf game. Over the summer Hodapp became just the fourth golfer in the program's history to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Championship. Hodapp bounced back from a disappointing 2008-09 season in which he finished the season seventh in stroke average at 79.1 and sixth in total rounds with 17.
Sophomore Michael Oberschmidt returns as well looking to improve on a freshman season where he worked his way into the starting five and steadily improved during the spring season.
From there it will be a lot of newcomers to the collegiate golf scene. The six freshmen, Mike Griffin, Zak Hadaway, Brenten Blakeman, Sean Keating, Matt Buse and John Muir, should challenge the returnees for spots three through five and push each other to continue their development.
While the team is young, Hoagland believes it's a pretty balanced team with several players that can contribute and shoot low scores for the Flyers.
Hoagland and the Flyers get their first test as UD opens the fall season Sept. 14 and 15 at the John Piper Intercollegiate hosted by Bowling Green State University.
This will be the fourth time in the previous five seasons the Flyers will have participated in the John Piper Intercollegiate.
Last season the Flyers roared back to finish tied for sixth out of 13 teams, the program's best finish at the event. After shooting a 307 and 306 as a team in the first two rounds, Dayton recorded the third best team score of the third round with a 293.