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Panthers open season on Monday
Prep Golf
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Four returners are back in the fold for the Great Bend High School golf team, coupled with several newcomers, giving Panthers fifth-year head coach Troy Stein a nice mix.

Great Bend opens its season on Monday at a Salina Central meet at Salina Municipal Golf Course — weather permitting — starting at 3 p.m.

The graduated Jeff Keenan, a first-team all-Western Athletic Conference selection, and senior Tanner Neeland were Class 5A state tournament qualifiers last season by virtue of top-10 regional finishes. Neeland placed sixth and Keenan eighth at Salina Municipal.

Junior Chance Haney and sophomores Cole Mulch and Raef Rein join Neeland as returning lettermen.

"We try not to put too many expectations on the guys," Stein said. "We want them to go out and play golf, have fun and help the team.

"That said, having two guys making to the state tournament last year, we feel like we can make it to the state tournament again."

Neeland's 36 on the front nine at the regional meet helped him shoot a state-qualifying 78, something Stein said he hopes Neeland can build on this season.

"Qualifying for state last year gave him a lot of confidence," Stein said of Neeland. "It shows if you work hard, you get results out of that.

"Chance has the talent to make it to state. He hasn't been able to put it all together yet, and Cole and Raef got some good experience last season that should help them."

A pair of seniors are also out for the first time in Wyatt Bayless and Matt Marshall, both of whom Stein said he expects to make bids to play on varsity after putting in some time on the links the past years.