The Carroll College men's and women's golf teams will kick off their respective season on Monday at the Montana Tech Invitational, set to be played at the Butte Country Club. The Saints will play 36 holes on Monday and another 18 to finish on Tuesday.

For both teams it will mark the start of a season with high expectations.

The Carroll men come into 2014 having finished second at last year's Frontier Conference tournament, missing a trip to nationals by just a few strokes. Team captain Connor Hausauer, though, did earn a spot at the national championships as an individual. He also made that trip with the team in 2012 as an observer.

"We only lost one senior player last year," coach Ben MacIntyre said. "That's Taylor Ratliff, and that's a big loss. But we've got the bulk of our team coming back and then we add in some very good freshmen. They're super excited and looking forward to seeing what they can do in Butte."

Also back for the Saints this season is senior Colin Gunstream. He’ll join players like senior Anthony Wood and juniors Andy Boyer, Zane Clark, Cory Felde and Michael Lavin. Along with a handful of freshmen and sophomores, MacIntyre has plenty of talent to choose from in building his varsity roster.

“We're hoping for big things out of Colin Gunstream,” he said. “He’s been with us a few years now and, if he plays well, we're gonna be pretty tough.”

Headlining the women’s returners is Jackie Mee, back after a second straight trip to the NAIA national championships as an individual competitor.

“We’ve never had anyone, men or women, win the regular-season title,” MacIntyre said. “So that’s a goal Jackie has — as well as Connor. We’ve just never had that. She’s won the conference championships before, and last year she got the at-large big, which recognized her overall ability based on her scores throughout the year. So that was a pretty big statement.

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“But she wants to start off the year well, and she definitely wants to chase down the regular-season title and the conference MVP.”

Giving the Saints a solid 1-2 punch is senior Amanda Roberts, a Capital High product.

“She has been pretty solid for us, but I know she’s looking to improve on her overall scores. And then we return the Freshman Player of the Year in Katie Goins. Combined with a couple of our incoming girls, we should, from a stroke average standpoint, have one of our best women's teams ever — which is something to look forward to.”

Troy Shockley is on Twitter @IR_TroyShockley and be reached at troy.shockley@helenair.com.

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