The 2013 prep girls’ golf season got under way for local squads the past few days via invitationals, and the Lakeview Invitational is set to begin 9 a.m. Friday at Cedar Creek Golf Club.
Lakeview is coming off a runner-up finish at the MHSAA Division 2 finals last fall, and the Spartans are again favored to win the SMAC East crown as well as vie for their 11th consecutive berth in the state finals.
Also solid should be Marshall, which was 12th at last fall’s D-3 finals at Bedford Valley Golf Club in Battle Creek and which returns four starters from last year’s club.
Additionally, both Coldwater and Gull Lake have returning state individual qualifiers on their rosters; and Harper Creek is young but improving.
Lakeview, Harper Creek, Coldwater, Gull Lake and Marshall are the only local schools featuring prep girls’ golf this season. The Battle Creek Central/Pennfield co-op does not have a squad this year.
Following is a closer look at all of the local prep girls’ golf programs, beginning with the city schools.
Coach: Cindy Kerridge (7th season).
Last year: Second at All-City, fourth SMAC East, middle of pack SMAC Big 16, middle of pack D-3 regionals, one individual state qualifier (since-graduated Jozlin Johnson).
Top returners: Miranda Maddox (Jr.), Maeve Hammond (Jr.), Page Brady (Sr.), Margo Coon (Sr.), Baylee Wilkins (So.), Madison Schulz (Sr.).
Top newcomers: Sydney Leatherman (Fr.), Emily Vahs (Fr.).
Outlook: Losing Johnson to graduation was a big loss for the Beavers, but Kerridge is looking forward to having a full compliment of young players who’ll improve as the season goes along.
Says Kerridge: “All of my returning golfers are in only their second season of playing golf. But they continue to work hard and shave strokes off their game,” she said. “We are striving to compete for third place in our league.”
Coach: Tony Evans (13th season/named Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association D-2 coach of the year last fall).
Last year: Sixth straight All-City title, sixth straight SMAC East title, sixth straight SMAC Big 16 title, MHSAA D-2 regional champ, runner-up at MHSAA D-2 finals/10th straight state finals appearance.
Top returners: Amanda Noakes (Sr.), Megan Strole (Sr.), Julia Ryan (Jr.).
Top newcomers: Samantha Grise (So.), Addie Pyatte (Jr.), Chika Manu (Jr.).
Outlook: Noakes and Strole are currently playing in the No. 1 and 2 spots in the lineup, respectively, and were regulars on last season’s state runner-up unit (three starters graduated from last year’s squad). With that 1-2 punch at the top, Evans again has high hopes for his Spartans.
Says Evans: “We’re obviously going to be a bit less powerful than we were last year, but we do have three girls back who played a lot on varsity last season, Amanda and Megan are very good players and put a lot into their games in junior events during the summer, so I pretty much know what I’m going to get from my top two and even top three players. Now, the question is how our new 4-5-6 girls are going to score so that we can be consistent.
“I think we will again compete for the SMAC East title, and we should also compete with St. Joe and Marshall for the Big 16 title. Our goal once again is to get back to the state finals, and I’m just hoping we can peak at the right time and play well at regionals.”
Coach: John Petzko (4th season).
Last year: Third SMAC East, fourth at D-3 regonals, one individual state qualifier (returns).
Top returners: Anna Wendorf (Sr., indiv. state qualifier), Cecelia Ward (Sr.).
Top newcomers: Emma Dwyer (Jr.), Kaitlyn Vella (Sr.), Jamison Maxson (Sr.), Madison Donbrock (So.), Kelsey Parrish (Jr.).
Outlook: The Cardinals are looking to have Wendorf return to state, as well as having the entire squad play solid enough at regionals to qualify for state as a team.
Says Petzko:”The goal is to have the team playing well enough to get us to qualify for states as a team. We lost three golfers to graduation from last year’s team, but we have two solid seniors this year who need to be our leaders, and then hopefully by the end of the year we can have four golfers who can score well for us on any given day.”
Coach: Pat Pearson (2nd season).
Last year: Top part of SMAC Central, top half of SMAC Big 16, one individual state qualifier (returns).
Top returners: Cydney Martell (Jr., indiv. state qualifier), Jenna VandenBerg (So.).
Top newcomers: Alexis Southwick (Jr.), Elsie Harrison (Jr.), Taylor Ramage (So.).
Outlook: The Blue Devils would like to see at least Martell make it back to state as an individual and possibly add VandenBerg into that mix, and they’re also shooting for continued improvement as a squad.
Says Pearson:”We are very good at No. 1 and No. 2 in the lineup. And if the new varsity girls play well, we could be pretty good as a team. Of course, with Lakeview, the rest of us are playing for second in the SMAC (Big 16), but I think we should have a very good season.”
Coach: Dick Hamilton (34th season).
Last year: Second SMAC East, fourth SMAC Big 16, third at D-3 regionals, 12th at D-3 state finals (at Bedford Valley Golf Club/fifth straight state finals appearance as a team).
Top returners: Sammy Price (Jr.), Jill Puckett (Sr.), Annie Cape (Jr.), Shannon Hicks (Jr.).
Top newcomers: Emily Rupp (Jr.), Alena Buczynski (Jr.), Kirsten Miller (So.).
Outlook: The Redhawks lost their No. 1 from last year to graduation (Amanda Genise), but all four of their returners played on last season’s state-qualifying squad.
Says Hamilton: “We lost a lot of strokes when we lost Amanda, and now I think that everybody’s got to step up and knock off about five strokes off their scores to make up for it. I can see two of our girls shooting in the low 80s, and now we need to have two or three other girls go lower, too. I think we’ll have another good team this year, but it just make take some time before it all comes together.”