There is plenty of excitement in the air as the Washington Demons embark on a new golf season starting today, with both the boys’ and girls’ teams entering 2024 as defending Southeast Conference champions.

The Washington boys will have most of the roster back that not only won a conference title, but also captured a sectional crown and missed out on qualifying for state as a team by just a few strokes.

Among that group is Roman Roth, the defending Class 3A individual state champion. Roth won conference, sectional and district titles before capturing his seventh tournament victory of his junior season with a total score of one under par across two days at state.

Roth is one of four returning Demon golfers who had a nine-hole average score of 44 strokes or less last season, a big reason Washington won 11 of the 14 meets they took part in. Drew Conrad and Rajan Roth are both coming off all-conference freshman seasons, while seniors Teague Mayer and Luke Beenblossom are also back.

It all adds up to a team that could expect big things this spring. But Demon head coach Collin Stark tells KCII Sports they’ll worry about the little things before looking at the big picture.

“Last year,” Stark says, “all of our guys probably would say that, team-wise, we didn’t quite meet our goal of making state. Even though that’s a goal this year, we’re focusing a lot more on the process and talking more about the process than goals, making sure that we’re taking advantage of every single opportunity on the course.”

The Washington girls typically expect big things, having extended their streak of trips to the state tournament to almost 10 years by winning a regional championship last season, a streak that includes four state championships since 2015.

But this year’s group of Demons will be one full of new faces. While there are returners like all-conference senior Maci Williams, head coach Erin Thorius tells KCII Sports many will be experiencing a bit of a learning curve.

“We have a lot of girls who really haven’t played a full nine [holes] or a full 18 very often,” Thorius says. “The rules of the game, they’re kind of daunting at times. [We have done] just a lot of practice on the course, working through those rules [and] talking about them all the time, helping [the players] to understand that those rules are there to help them versus hinder them.”

The Washington girls will be opening the season by hosting their Southeast Conference rivals later today, while the Demon boys will have a conference meet at Fairfield.