The Cassville Wildcat golf team has its eye on winning its second straight Big 8 Conference championship in 2007. The Wildcats had a very good season last year and will return three starters from that team.
Coach Lance Parnell is also enjoying the largest roster in the program's history with a total of 21 athletes hitting the links this spring.
Juniors Laith Hayward and Ryan Stockton are two of the returning starters for Cassville. They will also be helped by returning starter, Taylor Vanzandt. Vanzandt is only a sophomore, but was an All-Big 8 Conference selection last year as a freshman.
The Wildcats also bring back four lettermen who include seniors Brandon Banks, Steven Gerleve and Jake Rader and junior Kyle Mills, all players who saw action last spring.
"I am very excited about the 2007 golf season," said Coach Parnell. "We lost some very good golfers off last year's team, but we have a strong group of juniors and seniors with a lot of experience."
Other top prospects for the year include junior Clint Reed, freshman Justin Mills and junior Pate Shumaker.
The Wildcats' biggest advantage this year might be the size of their roster. With 21 total golfers on the team, the Wildcats could contain talent they don't even realize.
"There should be a lot of competition for spots on the varsity and junior varsity teams," added Parnell when describing the make-up of the team, which includes three seniors, eight juniors, two sophomores and eight freshmen.
Other members of the squad include: David Barnes, Robert Cooper, Jesse Henderson, Chelsea Krallman, Colby Reavis, Alex Reid, Dannon Rose, Dean Rushton, Amy Stockton, Josh Stubblefield and Dylan Yarnall.
When looking ahead to conference competition, Parnell expects the field to be very balanced this year. He describes the Wildcats' district foes as "tough." In district play, Cassville will be competing against some top teams, including Carthage, Webb City, Carl Junction, Monett and Republic.
The Wildcats will take to the course for their first competition on March 26 at Neosho. Cassville will host their own tournament at the Cassville Golf Course on April 10.