Wildcats tee off on competition, placing second in conference

While many sports boast bleachers filled with fans, golfers often labor in anonymity on vast courses scattered about the state.  The Wildcats boast a long-time record of success both within the conference and within the region, and they added to that legacy in 2017 with success both as individuals and as a team. Coached by Dan Powers and assistant coach Nick Brandl, the squad placed second in conference, second in regionals, and fifth in sectionals. Senior and four-year golf participant Sydney Steinmetz is proud of the team’s success .

“Our team had a very successful season. We were 8-1 in conference standings and took second place at both the conference tournament and regionals tournament,” she said. “Over the past three years, the girls golf team has only lost one conference match.”

With high expectations going into the season, newbies on the varsity team had intense standards to meet. Sophomore and first year varsity team member Jensen Muza had every intention of helping to meet team goals.

“This was my first year golfing on varsity so that in itself was a big change for me playing with more competitive girls,” she said. “Overall, I feel like I improved a lot individually and learned a lot this season.”

The new team members truly stepped up to the plate this season; with three four-year players graduating last year, the Wildcats expected a change in paradigm. Powers believes the transition from the old dynamic to many new team members went extremely well, bringing hard work and a positive culture.

“I really enjoyed the attitudes and willingness to learn of the kids this year. With many new kids, it ended up being a positive make-up as a team,” he said.

With competitive seats on the varsity team, new members had to put forth effort and dedication to the team and practices, as well as the willingness to learn. Brandl was impressed with the freshman group coming in this year.

“It was nice to get a mix of kids to play varsity matches this year and get the experience,” he said. “The freshmen showed promise this year, and we’re excited for next year to see the improvement.”

By having many new members and a reputation to uphold, the coaches set goals with the team at the beginning of the year that were held at the center of attention throughout the season.

“Our goals have never changed during the past five years as first place in conference and regionals, and top two in sectionals is always the goal,” Brandl said. “We have to set the bar high and work to achieve our goals.”

The coaches not only train up the younger players  to improve their skills but also stand as mentors for the girls on the team within their lives.

“Overall, I feel like I improved a lot individually and learned a lot this season. I also gained a lot of life advice from Coach Powers regarding my personal life, whether it was wanted or not,” Muza said.

With individual and team goals in hand, Steinmetz, as a team leader and intense golfer, intended to finish her senior season on a high note by leading the team in both leadership and competition.

“As an individual, my goal was to make it to state. I had a really good start early on in the season, but unfortunately did not do as well as I had hoped in the big tournaments” she said.

Through setting high expectations for herself, teammates looked up to Steinmetz for both her skills and leadership. Laura Courchene, junior varsity player, admired the senior’s abilities within the game.

“Sydney really plugged us with some good scores throughout the season; we will truly miss Sassy Syd,” she said.

Excelling through a statistical standpoint is one thing, but team aesthetic makes the season fun and enjoyable for both coaches and team members.

“This season was one of the most enjoyable due to fun nature and positive attitudes of all the athletes,” Powers said. “We didn’t reach all of our goals, but we had fun and lots of stories along the way.”

With the year coming to a close, next season is already on the horizon. As the team featured mostly upperclassmen for the past two years, they now lose four more seniors for next season. Brandl embraces the upcoming challenge.

“I look forward to teaching the younger golfers the game and see how far they can go as a team and individually,” Brandl said. “Losing four seniors will change the dynamic of the team, but growing as a program is always the goal.”

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