Following the 2013 season, the Winthrop High School golf team was left wondering about what could have been as it stood by and watched the squad from St. Dominic Academy celebrate with the Class C team golf championship trophy.

The loss — which came by just a single stroke — only fueled the Ramblers in 2014, as a 4-under-par 68 from senior Taylor Morang powered Winthrop to its first state golf title in 19 years on Oct. 11 at Natanis Golf Course.

Morang, as well Adam Hachey and Ben Caprara, have since graduated, however, leaving the Ramblers some gaps to fill as they begin this season.

“We’re going to put up a spirited defense of our championship,” Winthrop coach Lonney Steeves said.

Steeves also admitted that this year’s team does not have quite the same level of talent as last fall’s squad, but it does have some strong returners. Anthony Owens figures to be one of the top players in Class C, while Zach Robertson returns having carded the Ramblers’ fourth score at the Class C meet a season ago.

“We’re kind of building for the future again,” Steeves said. “We’ll be competitive for the (Mountain Valley Conference) title.”

St. Dom’s should once again be a strong foe for the Ramblers to contend with in the MVC, as should Oak Hill, which competes in Class B and features one of the conference’s top golfers in senior Conor Drouin. When it comes to the state level, Mattanawcook will be a team to keep an eye on. The Lynx were fourth a season ago and return each of their top four players.

The race in Class B — both for team and individual titles — should once again be a good one, particularly now that perennial power Camden Hills has moved up to Class A. Replacing it in Class B, however, will be Oceanside and senior Nick Mazurek, an early favorite for the individual title.

Maine Central Institute, despite graduating 2014 Class B individual champ Gavin Dugas, figures to be one of the teams that will challenge Oceanside, Cape Elizabeth and Old Town for the team title.

The Huskies brought back two potential individual title challengers in juniors Eric Dugas and Carter Pearl, as well as veteran Nate Tilton. MCI coach Paul Greco is also excited at the potential for freshmen Anna Smith, Kurt Larochelle and Avery Gosselin.

“As long as we get there on that Saturday that’s what it’s all about,” Greco said. “I think that we’ll be able to.”

Gardiner is also hoping to make a splash this season. The Tigers lost just one of its top five players from a season ago and bring back a senior-laden team led by Brian Dunn, Chad Prince and Logan Peacock.

“We’re primed for a great season,” Gardiner coach Patrick Quinn said. “The boys have played a lot this summer and they’re fired up. A lot of experience and a lot of depth.

“Oceanside seems to be the team to beat and MCI as well, although we won’t play them in the regular season. They’ll be the teams that we’re competing with.”

The race for the Class A team title last season could not have been much closer, as 2014 champion Scarborough edged Greely and Falmouth by just two strokes, with Thornton Academy four back. Each figures to be firmly in the mix again this season with a strong group of returners.

Messalonskee took ninth in Class A last season and will look to improve on that this fall with its top two golfers — Billy Rollins and Dylan Burton — back this season, along with fellow seniors Jared Cunningham, Riley Campbell and Ben Thibert.

“Everybody is back that I’ve expected and no one has dropped out,” Messalonskee coach Jim Kirschner said. “A lot of seniors this year, which is unusual for our team. Four seniors will probably start and the others will have to work their way in.”

Rollins and Burton could fight their way into contention for the Class A individual title with good days, but will have to contend with a strong group that includes Bangor’s Drew Powell and Cavan Hagerty, Greely’s Sam Burgoyne and Aidan Roberts and Scarborough’s Drew Kane, among others.

In the girls individual title race, Thornton senior Hashilla Rivai figures to be the prohibitive favorite after firing a 2-under 70 to win the title as a junior. Fellow Trojan Jordan LaPlume, Lincoln Academy’s Bailey Plourde and Greely’s Erin Holmes should be in the mix as well, while Lawrence’s Carly Larochelle and Mount View’s Cassidy Gerrish will look to improve on their performances at states last fall.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

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Twitter: @Evan_Crawley