The area’s top girls golf teams are prepared to remain strong this season despite major personnel losses.
Angola won its first sectional championship in program history last year, and its leading golfer Gabby Kelly has chosen not to play in her senior season. Kelly was last year’s KPC Media Group Prep of the Year.
Still, the Hornets are probably still the top team in the Northeast Corner Conference with three starters back in Teryn Stanley, Maddie Herman and Isabell Deem.
Lakeland will be a top team in the NECC, but took a similar hit with Bailey Hartsough not returning to the links in her junior season. Hartsough is one of the female prep athletes in the area and is highly regarded in northeast Indiana in both volleyball and basketball. She will just play volleyball this fall.
DeKalb graduated four starters from last year’s team that won the Northeast 8 Conference Tournament, placed second in the Angola Sectional and sixth in the East Noble Regional. However, Baron coach Trent Stuckey is prepared to reload, and his daughter Ally will look to consistently give the team a low number in her senior campaign and keep it going in its winning ways.
Here’s a look at all the area girls golf teams.
Coach: Stacey Parr, 4th season
2018: 12-3 match record overall, Northeast Corner Conference Tournament champion, Angola Sectional champion at Zollner, 11th East Noble Regional at Noble Hawk Golf Links.
Leading returning players: Seniors Teryn Stanley, Maddie Herman and Isabell Deem.
Key graduation loss: Kiaja Bledsoe.
The Hornets will be going for their fourth straight NECC regular season and tournament titles and have eight girls returning.
Victoria Miller, Ann Reiniche, Katie Smith, Hannah Conley and Hannah Hagerty were on the junior varsity last year. Lucy Smith is new to the program. Parr hopes a couple of them emerge to create a solid lineup from top to bottom.
“We have some work to do to fill those spots, but we have girls who have been working over the summer and who have been improving,” Parr said. “There are great opportunities for our younger players to step up and become more competitive in order to fill those positions.”
Parr and the players agree that the Hornets need to show improvement in the short game.
Coach: Trent Stuckey, 6th season
2018: 13-2, Northeast 8 Conference champion, Angola Sectional runner-up, 6th East Noble Regional.
Leading returning player: Senior Ally Stuckey.
Key graduation losses: Sarah Williams, Marie Burton, Eden Weghorst, Sara Schannen.
Stuckey was the Angola Sectional runner-up last season with an 81, then shot an 84 in the East Noble Regional. But there is a lot of potential around this high quality senior.
Junior Kayla Fleming put in a lot of work in the spring and summer. Freshman Lilly Cone is expected to play an important role immediately. Senior Cierra Snyder has some JV experience under her belt.
“We are excited to see Kayla’s improvement,” Trent Stuckey said. “Lilly has good golf skills and will really improve as she gains experience.
“Ally had a strong summer and looks to lead the team.”
Seniors Addy Ruby and Tabitha Butler are new to the team and quickly learning how to play golf.
“I am excited to coach this year’s team. The girls work real hard and enjoy each other,” Stuckey said. “We will concentrate on getting a little better each week.”
Coach: Cassidy Roush, 3rd season
2018: 8-2 NECC, 3rd NECC Tournament, 2nd East Noble Sectional at Cobblestone, 17th East Noble Regional.
Leading returning players: Juniors Madison Keil, Tatum Retterbush and Sadie Edsall.
Key graduation loss: Whittney Ray.
Without Hartsough, the Lakers have strong core group of girls who know how to compete, led by Keil, an All-NECC golfer who will also play soccer this fall. The girls golf team has been competitive ever since it got started in 2017, and qualified for a regional in its second year of play.
Sophomore Kylee Watkins will take on a varsity role. Freshmen Amelia Trump and Brooke Retterbush will compete for varsity time, and will take turns unless one of them takes command.
“We have an incredibly strong unity between all the girls. Plus, they are hardworking and have lots of determination and drive,” Roush said. “We need work on our short game and mental preparation.
“Hoping to build and get stronger on the success of last year’s team. Keep improving as the season goes on.”
Coach: Elizabeth Gould, 5th season
2018: 4th NECC Tournament, 6th East Noble Sectional.
Leading returning players: Seniors Terra Mayer and Kenzi Tonkel, junior Molly Geiger
Key graduation loss: Jada Kirkpatrick.
It’s an experienced team looking to reach a higher level. Gould had nine freshmen in 2016. Possibly as many as five of them still remain.
The Eagles have the largest roster in the area with 11 girls playing golf. Gould gives a lot of credit to assistant coach Steph Bowers, a teacher at Churubusco Junior High who was Garrett’s first girls golf coach in 2017.
“We push them to become better, but we also want them to foster a love for the sport,” Gould said. “They do not think they need to do it now. They can do it forever.”
Mayer is one of the top players in the area. Geiger has really grown after getting lessons and playing in tournaments during the summer.
“We need to focus on our shot and not worry about the last shot,” Tonkel said.
Coach: Eric Wirick, 7th season
2018: 2nd NECC Tournament, 6th Angola Sectional.
Leading returning players: Senior Sydney Kokinis, junior Halle Taner, sophomore Katie Baker.
Key graduation losses: Jaden Cardoso and Kelsea Harris.
Replacing two girls who will be playing college golf will be tough, but the Eagles are working to maintain the competitive level they have been at recently.
Wirick is expecting a lot from Kokinis and Taner. Baker and sophomore classmate Janessa Ritter have shown great improvement since the end of last season.
Freshman Kenadee Porath is a seasoned golfer and should contribute right away. Older sister Raigan Porath was a leading Fremont golfer from 2013-16.
Another newcomer to the team is senior Rylee Boyd.
“If the girls continue to work as diligently as they have this summer, I expect to be a very strong team by the end of the season,” Wirick said.
Coach: Randy Younce, 2nd season
2018: 7th NECC Tournament, 9th East Noble Sectional.
Leading returning player: Senior Hannah Godfrey.
Key graduation losses: Natalie Halferty, Audrey Fulford.
Godfrey is one of the top players in the area, and will have an inexperienced group around her.
Senior Kiara Campos has a little bit of varsity experience from last season, but is still learning the game. The rest of the team is new to golf.
The Chargers will field a full team of five, and could have a couple more next week.
“This is a good group. Good students,” Younce said. “We’ll get better.
“We look forward to Hannah doing well.”
Godfrey was a regional qualifier, shooting 82 in the regional at Cobblestone. She was the NECC Tournament runner-up with an 85 at Zollner. She was four shots away from qualifying for the IHSAA state finals.
Among the newcomers is junior Kacee Click, a leading player on West Noble’s softball team. She is new to golf, but her athleticism could help her grow rather quickly on the links.
Coach: Nate Young, 2nd season
2018: 2-5 in NE8 matches, 6th NE8 Tournament, 8th East Noble Sectional.
Leading returning players: Juniors Carly Turner, Jasmine Freeman and Kayla Desper.
Key graduation loss: Miranda Arnold.
Building confidence and consistency will help the Knights make progress this season.
“Carly can be one of the better players in our conference if she believes in herself,” Young said. “Same goes for Jasmine.”
Four starters return for EN from last year’s sectional, including senior Shay Swager. Swager and junior Elle Hackman have improved a lot from last year.
Freshman Gracie Schoff has a lot of potential. Another newcomer to the team is senior Delaney Dentler, who has improved a lot in a short period of time.
“In all, we have a great group of young ladies,” Young said. “They are all coachable and have great attitudes. It makes coaching enjoyable.
Coach: Jake Fiedler, 1st season
2018: 6th NECC Tournament, 7th Angola Sectional.
Leading returning players: Junior Sarah Cooper, sophomore Abby Weaver.
The Railroaders returns most of their players from last season and continues to grow heading into their third season of play. Some freshmen and sophomores will join the team for the 2019 campaign.
“The Garrett girls have grown in numbers each year since the program began in 2017,” Fiedler said. “While the team lacks experience, the leadership of Sarah and Abby, along with the team’s desire to improve, should lead to a great season.”
Prairie Heights, Westview and Hamilton is also expected to have girls golfers this season. No information was provided by their coaches.
Most of the area teams open their seasons on Monday. Angola, East Noble and Churubusco will be at the Homestead Invitational, which starts at 9 a.m. at Chestnut Hills. Lakeland will be in the Goshen Invitational, which starts at 8:30 a.m. at Black Squirrel. Westview will host Heritage in a match at Heron Creek at 11 a.m.
On Tuesday, Garrett will be in the Bellmont Invitational at 8 a.m. at Cross Creek. West Noble will host Lakeland and East Noble at South Shore in Syracuse at 10 a.m.
On Saturday, DeKalb will start its season in the East Noble Invitational, which starts at 10 a.m. at Noble Hawk. Prairie Heights will get started in the Fremont Fall Classic, which tees off at Lake James at 9 a.m.