After winning four consecutive Class 5 state golf championships, Deep Run took its era of dominance to a new level last season by winning the first High School Golf National Invitational.

For the 2019-20 campaign, the Wildcats return all five competitors from their national-championship team. Coach Josh Aldrich said he’s not worried about complacency setting in because of his players’ individual aspirations. 

“Our boys have done a really good job of keeping themselves on their work ethic,” he said. “It hasn’t really changed, because their goals are to play at the next level.”

Aldrich called high school golf an “individual/team sport,” saying some of his players compete year-round in major tournaments, honing their craft. So when they come together as a team, there’s friendly competition among themselves.

But they all have the same goal of winning another state title. And that fosters unity.

“They are all trying to be the best they can be for each other, and that’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “Because when they play, their only concern is how well the other guys are doing. We’re all in this together, and it’s really a cool concept.”

Mills Godwin’s Charlie Kennedy, the 2018 All-Metro golfer of the year, stands out among the other top individuals in the area.

Players to watch:

Charlie Kennedy, Mills Godwin, junior:A two-time member of the All-Metro team, Kennedy won the Class 5, Region B tournament last season after posting a two-day score of 148. He was also the runner-up at the state tournament with a 4-under 68 after winning the individual state title as a freshman. His 18-hole average was 71.4.

Charlie Hanson, Deep Run, senior:This summer, Hanson shot a 3-under 141 at the national invitational in Orlando at the Walt Disney World Golf Courses, fifth among 172 competitors. Hanson posted a nine-hole average of 36.96 last season and was the Wildcats’ top scorer at the state tournament with a 1-over 73.

Zach Valdes, Manchester, senior:After posting a top-two finish in the region tournament and top-15 finish in the state tournament his freshman and sophomore seasons, Valdes fired a 76 at last year’s regional tournament to again qualify for states.

Trent Sveum, Deep Run, junior: His 74 at the state tournament helped Deep Run claim its fourth consecutive title, and Sveum followed that up with a 3-over 147 at the national invitational, third of the Wildcats’ five competitors. Sveum averaged a 35.97 nine-hole score last season.

Zack Smith, Deep Run, senior: Smith had a two-day score of 153 at the Class 5, Region B tournament before helping lead the Wildcats to a state title with a 74 at the state tournament. He averaged a 37.28 over nine holes.

Class 6

Thomas Dale went 6-5 in 2018 in coach Michael Walker’s first year in charge. Seniors Anna White and Aliyah Kellum are the only experienced starters on the Knights’ roster. White has averaged an 83 18-hole score in her career and is one of the better female players in the area. Though strong at the top, Thomas Dale may have to search for production at the back end of its rotation. Freshmen Brayden Gilbert and Tucker Sloan could be asked to step into starting roles.

Cosby, the defending Class 6, Region B champions, finished fourth in the state last season and brings back four starters. Junior Bryan Polinchock shot a match-best 2-over 74 in the regional championship. He’ll anchor a deep, experienced Titans team. Shane Duffy, Dylan Reasoner and Christopher Tarczynski are all returning starters. Duffy and Polinckock finished tied for 12th at 4 over at the state tournament. 

Class 5

Deep Run will return seniors Charlie Hanson, Zack Smith and Ian Walters, and juniors Trent Sveum and Brint Harbison, all of whom played in the national invitational. Hanson, Sveum and Smith were named to the All-Metro first team last season. Walters and Harbison made the second team. Hanson led the Wildcats in average nine-hole score last season, but Sveum and Smith weren’t far off. Deep Run will add junior Kory Hummer and sophomore Ethan Snow to a stacked group.

Senior Zach Valdes leads a Manchester team that finished third in the region last year and will look to replace five seniors. Valdes has finished in the top two in the regional tournament and top 15 at the state tournament all three years as a Lancer. Rising freshman Ivan Chan has shot multiple rounds in the 70s and could lock up the two-spot in Manchester’s rotation, while sophomores Andrew Schweitzer and Mac Arnold will seek to continue their consistency in the three and four positions.

Led by first-year coach Ricky Burch, Glen Allen brings back second-year player Aiden Robertson to anchor a Jaguars team that finished fourth in the region last season. Four-year players Sam Hyman, Abby Cook and Nick Patterson will feature as well for a team looking to replace 2018 starters Luke Vanhool and Chae Han.

First-year coach Rob Rice takes over an experienced Hermitage team returning four starters from 2018. Seniors Maxwell Kates-Tate and Tim Mallory Jr. will play near the top of the rotation, as will juniors Dylan Barrett and J.C. Baker. Sophomore returnee Sam Nill and senior newcomer Michael Major could fill out the fifth and sixth spots. 

Co-captains Cole Shaban and Marshall Wright are the only upperclassmen on a young J.R. Tucker team that lost four starters from 2018. Coach Jim Dorton will look to bring along four returning sophomores — Peter Deeb, Will Clarkson, Evan Lobred and Chase Lempner — to fill the void, along with freshman newcomer Charlie Robbins.

Four returners — seniors Kyler Mahaney and Madison Bailey, junior Konner Eaton and sophomore Ashley Allen — will be the backbone of a Prince George team that went 7-5 last season. That experienced core should help lead a group of talented freshmen — Owen Tarnaski, Aiden Bryant and Wyatt Holt will be tasked with replacing three starters and filling out the starting six.

Varina returns a good deal of experience in coach Tony Sorbello’s 15th year. Seniors Ryan Carver and Caleb Olgers are returning starters, along with sophomore Daymen Nixon. Senior Macie Spivey and juniors Joshua Walton and Emma Mills are new faces who could contribute right away, as is freshman Caleb Winslow.

Class 4

Lee-Davis and third-year coach Tyler Johnson will work to replace five starters from last season, but they expect consistent play from three returning players, all juniors — Mason Burrows, Matthew Lavinder and Trey Walton. Seniors Trey Baker and Austin Testerman are first-year players who will be asked to contribute immediately.

First-year and interim coach Tim Casey will guide a Caroline program that went 0-12 last season. Senior Kyle Pettigrew and junior Hanna Pettigrew will lead a young Cavaliers team. Freshman Will Carter could step into a prominent role right off the bat.

Hanover will lean on a strong group of juniors for consistent play at the top of their rotation. Juniors Andrew Wilkerson, Tanner Yager and Connor Bond should form a solid top three. The Hawks will need success out of the 4-6 spots. Senior Adam Kelly and freshman Jacob Mertl are new faces to keep an eye on.

Patrick Henry returns all six starters from a team that finished 14-5 in 2018. Coach Dave Hudak’s eighth year in charge comes with high expectations for the Patriots. Senior Jessica Rathbone finished third in the girls state tournament last year, and Rathbone and fellow senior Miles Krishnamurthy form a strong duo at the top of Patrick Henry’s rotation. Junior Braden Campbell and sophomores Dan Ailor, Dillan Baskind and Keaton Winston are returners who should provide consistent play throughout the Patriots’ lineup.

The 2018 Class 4, Region B runner-up, Monacan returns five starters in coach Scott Thackston’s 16th year at the helm. Juniors Quint Dingledine and Brayden Latham will lead the charge, along with returning seniors Luke Neal and Ben Maxwell. Junior Tyler Tingen and sophomore Claire Campbell will look to fill the fifth and sixth spots.

Classes 2 and 3

After finishing second in the region and making its first trip to the Class 2 state tournament, Maggie Walker returns four starters to an experienced team. Seniors Avery Bowers and Casey Pridgen will lead the team, and junior Eric Hamilton also will be counted on. Freshmen Mary Kathryn Topping and Ellie Griffin will look to fill the void left by graduates Lisa Qin and Virginia Adams.

Hopewell has a trio of returning juniors it will lean on — Evelyn Hunter, Evan Reber and Landen Baker. Hunter is a three-year starter who hopes to play at the next level. Newcomers Matthew English and Deanna Porter will help replace three lost starters. Porter is a sophomore and English a freshman.

King William is led by senior Taylor Hubbard, who is a 2017 state champion and has committed to Winthrop. One of four returning starters, Hubbard will look to guide a group comprised largely of underclassmen, aside from junior and fellow-starter Arria Gross. Sophomores Michael Knoeller and Jonah Ibanez will step into major roles. A group of seven freshmen will fill out the fifth and sixth spots.