Last season the Jamestown Community College golf team was the unknown.
The Jayhawks had a roster of 10 that included only one sophomore and they were being led by first-year coach Brett Mucheck.
But by the end of the season, JCC was well known around not only in Region 3, but also in NJCAA Division III golf.
The top returnee for the Jamestown Community College golf team is sophomore Jake Yartz, who finished fifth in the NJCAA Division III National Tournament individual scoring to earn All-American first-team honors.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
After finishing first in three tournaments, second four times and third three times, the Jayhawks went on to finish second at the NJCAA Region 3 Division III Tournament.
But the best was yet to come as they also finished second at the NJCAA Division III National Tournament (again held on their home course, the Lake Course At Chautauqua Golf Club) by shooting a season-low 300 in the final round in which each Jayhawk broke 80 and a 77 had to be thrown out.
After all that success in a season of the unknown, is Mucheck a bit hesitant about what expect this season?
''No, we're excited,'' he said. ''The guys have put some pretty high expectations on themselves because of last year. Overall, we're just really, really excited about it.''
He added, ''I've got six guys returning from last year. They've seen the golf courses, they all have a year of college golf under their belts now so at regionals and nationals they should feel a lot more comfortable.''
The six sophomores are Andrew Bird, Chad Buck, Jordy Farnham, Drew Chaddock, Brenton Wilcox and Jake Yartz. The newcomers are freshmen Mason Burch and Andrew Riforgiat.
''I prefer this number,'' Mucheck said about a roster of eight. ''We've been in strength and conditioning since January. When these kids originally sign up they think they're just going to go out there and play golf on their own and they don't realize what kind of commitment it takes, so we kind of weed them out and this is what we have left after doing all that.''
The top returnee is Yartz, who shot rounds of 74-77-73-75 for a 299 total at the nationals last year to finish fifth and earn NJCAA first-team All-American status.
''It's a big plus,'' Mucheck said about having the Southwestern graduate back for another season. ''And I'll tell you what else is a big plus is he's grown up a lot since last year. He's kind of taken a leadership role on the team this year. He's grasp what we can do this year if everyone goes at it hard.''
The Jayhawks know what they can do because of their final round at the nationals when Yartz shot 75, Wilcox 76, Bird 76 and Chaddock 77. The low score was a 1-over 73 by Casey Davidson, the only sophomore.
''It was magical,'' Mucheck said about the final round. ''Everything just seemed to happen and fall in place for us.''
And it all started when Bird finished first and sunk his second shot from the fairway at No. 18 for an eagle 2.
''It was like it was meant to be,'' Mucheck said. ''It was so exciting. Other than winning it, I couldn't have asked for a better end to the season.''
That finish also means the Jayhawks are no longer an unknown commodity and could be playing with a target on their backs this season as the team to beat.
''We welcome that,'' Mucheck said. ''Even though there is a little bit of added pressure, we kind of take it like a chip on our shoulder. That's what we can do and let's get out there and do it all the time.''
But so far JCC hasn't been ''out there'' yet.
''We have not gone out to play at all yet,'' Mucheck said about the lingering winter.
The Jayhawks' opening invitational is Friday at the Mohawk Valley CC Invitational, but they won't know if they will be playing until this morning.
It is quite a contrast to last year when there was summer-type weather in March with temperatures in the 70s and even the 80s. That gave the team a month to actually be on the course before the season began, but there was something more important that just playing golf.
''I think it did help us because they were able to bond,'' Mucheck said. ''I was brand new, too. They didn't know me, I didn't know the system, I didn't know what to expect from the guys. So it was kind of nice to have almost a full month before the season to kind of get to know each other.''
Then it became a memorable season, but Mucheck and his golfers have put that in the past and they have not set any long-term goals.
''There was so much about last season, that we sat down and decided to not focus on regionals or nationals at all,'' he said. ''Let's just get better every single tournament.''
And the Jayhawks hope to start trying to do that on Friday and then again the following Friday with their own invitational at Chautauqua Golf Club.
April 5 - at Mohawk Valley CC
April 12 - JCC Invitational
April 13 - at Niagara County CC Invitational
April 14 - at WNYAC Championships at Lockport Country Club
April 19 - at Cayuga CC Invitational
April 20 - at Onondaga CC Invitational
April 21 - at Jefferson CC Invitational
April 26 - at Corning CC Invitational
April 27 - at Broome CC Invitational
April 28 - at Tompkins-Cortland CC Invitational
May 3 - at Monroe CC Invitational
May 12-14 - Region 3 Championships at Oneida Community GC
June 2-7 - NJCAA Division III National Championships at Chautauqua GC
NAMEHIGH SCHOOL YEAR
Andrew Bird Cassadaga Valley Soph.
Chad Buck Falconer Soph.
Mason Burch Randolph Fresh.
Drew Chaddock Fillmore Soph.
Jordy Farnham Maple Grove Soph.
Andrew Riforgiat Fredonia Fresh.
Brenton Wilcox Cassadaga Valley Soph.
Jake Yartz Southwestern Soph.