By Luke Severt
For the Troy Daily News
TROY — Golf itself is an individual sport, but to be successful as a team, you must have multiple golfers who perform well on any given day.
Fourth-year Troy girls golf coach Matt Wibbeler believes his team will prove this to be true this season.
As of now, the six varsity competitors will be made of a trio of seniors and a trio of sophomores, who are all returning players. The former will be composed of Riley Johnson, who had the second-best average on the team last season, Lauren Garlow, who had the fifth-best, and Camryn Spencer, who was named second-team All-Greater Western Ohio Conference American League for her performance last fall.
The latter will be made up of Paige Stuchell, who impressed in her freshman season with the third-best average on the team and All-GWOC American League Special Mention honors, Delaney Davis and Libby Harnish.
However, Carrigan Browning, who finished with the sixth-best scoring average in the GWOC American League North last season, graduated and will continue her golf career at Defiance College.
This year, nobody has yet to establish themselves as a standout, but the team will feature six girls who are all expected to shoot consistently similar, low scores.
“I don’t know if we have anybody presently who will be able to shoot as low as Carrigan was capable of shooting,” said Wibbeler. “I think they all have the potential, but we’re going to have to develop a little bit as a team and do it more collectively than always relying on one score.”
Wibbeler saw this dynamic in full effect at their tryouts on Tuesday, as he said there were “four or five girls who all finished within a few strokes of each other, and they were all good scores.” He added that in his four years as head coach of the Lady Trojans, this year’s tryout days were the one of the best that he has seen.
With the age diversity on the varsity team, Garlow understands how important it is for her and her fellow seniors to show leadership.
“We have definitely put a lot of time in teaching etiquette and the basics of the game,” she said. “Golf is sometimes hard to understand, so in that way the seniors have definitely helped.”
As far as talent goes, she believes that the sophomores have a lot of natural talent, and they will only improve with the hard work they have exhibited so far.
Other returning golfers are senior Katherine Dunne and sophomore Emily Wenrick. According to Wibbeler, they have also been playing well, and are likely to compete in varsity matches at some point of the season.
To round out the roster, there are two new additions to the program, juniors MariCait Gillespie and Megan Coate. Although they are new to the game, Wibbeler has seen them both improve tremendously in just a few weeks of summer golf, and expects them to play large roles on the team once they gain some experience.
Despite a 40-stroke improvement from the preseason to the postseason last year, the Trojans were unable to finish with a winning record and did not win the GWOC American League North, two things that are on Wibbeler’s list of expectations every year.
This year, while he believes those expectations are achievable, he said he isn’t going to set unrealistic goals for his team, such as a state championship. However, he said he is mainly focused on continuing the improvement that they experienced last season, and if they do so, they “may surprise themselves.”
However, they’ll worry about that later. For now, the objective is the same.
“Our goal every year is to compete in the GWOC, to win the GWOC North, and then see what happens from there.”
After eight seasons with the Tippecanoe girls golf team, coach Scott Murray knows how to keep the program rolling in the correct direction after a big round of graduations.
So as he enters his ninth year with the Red Devils, he will be leaning on three second-year players and a large group of newcomers to help the squad defend its Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division championship and reach yet another district tournament.
Senior Ashlyn Herzog and sophomores Marissa Miller and Sydney Lange will be the heart of the team this season. Last year as a freshman, Miller had the second-best average in the GWOC American North — behind only graduate Taylor Hudson — while Lange was in the top 25 in the division.
“Last season, we won the GWOC North and advanced the the district tournament for the 14th time in the last 15 years,” Murray said. “Six of the eight players graduated from that team, and it will be led this season by three second-year players.
“In order to repeat last year’s success, the team will need to develop solid fourth and fifth scores out of the other seven first-year players. It will be the largest roster the team has fielded.”
* Miami East
Miami East is coming off a season in which it went 15-6, captured a Cross County Conference title and made it to the district tournament for the second time in three years. The Vikings return six letterwinners off that team.
“I believe our team should improve as the season progresses this year, as all of our girls have been taking lessons and working on their golf game over the summer,” Miami East coach Bruce Vanover said. “Based on what last year’s team was able to accomplish, I believe this year’s team has the potential to follow up the success of last year’s team, as they know what it takes.”
The team returns two seniors, Marissa Kearns and Maci Krites, along with juniors Paige Lawson, Annelise Logan and Kearsten Kirby and sophomore Cadence Gross. Lawson and Kirby were last year’s co-MVPs. The team will be joined by newcomers Erin Baker, Kirsten Overholser, Katie Pottorf, Taylor Godsey and Gretchen Stevens.
“The team is also hoping to repeat as CCC champions this year, as well as improve on their third place finish in the sectional tournament and their seventh place finish in the district tournament,” Vanover said. “The team would really like to qualify for the district tournament again this year as a team, as this would be a major achievement.”
Covington returns four of five golfers from last season. Back are seniors Emily Thompson and Emily Hedick, junior Morgan Lowe and sophomore Katie Hembree. New to the team is freshman Sarah Slusher.
“We hope to be in consideration for a Cross County Conference league championship, but so do the other seven programs we have in girls golf this season,” Covington coach Adam Sweigart said. “Miami East, Arcanum, Fort Loramie, and National Trail will be conference leaders fighting for a league title because of their strong returning players.
“My hope is that our team will continue to build on the team dynamic to help support each other towards their best round each time they hit the course. We will have good matches and bad ones as well, but I want them to enjoy the time on the courses and the competition they face.”
The Bethel girls golf program is still in its infancy and has no seniors on the roster this year, but the Bees return three players and will be looking to continue to grow.
Junior Maddie Scherck and sophomores McKenna Gray and Olivia Reittinger all return this season, with junior Ashley Newton and sophomores Evelyn Barber and Skylar Johnson rounding out the roster.
“Our goal is to win some matches this season, continue to improve and critique our games individually and as a team,” Bethel coach Ed Quincel said. “We want to get this program started off in the right direction.”
Luke Severt is a sports writer for the Troy Daily News