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Senior-laded Copley girls golf team looking to make its mark

9/5/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

COPLEY — Copley High School girls golf head coach Dan Sutter said the word that best describes this year’s team is “tenacious.”

“The majority of our players are seniors,” he said. “They’ve got grit and they realize this is their last shot. They have shown tenacity in going after what they know they should get.”

Last year, Copley finished in fourth place in the Suburban League, Sutter said, and most of the players from that team have returned this season.

“We only lost one varsity senior and one in the [junior varsity], so we are now in a position of strength — or a position of having upperclassmen on varsity,” the coach said. “We have five seniors, a junior and a freshman in our seven main players.”

According to Sutter, the team’s top player is senior Mackenzie Jones.

“Mackenzie has been with us for four years and, to my knowledge, she didn’t golf much prior to that,” he said. “She has gotten considerably better each year. She has now gotten to the point where she doesn’t overswing. She is more frequently in the middle of the fairway than the average player.”

Senior Jaya Adkins also has been with the Copley girls golf program for four years, including two years on the varsity team, Adkins said.

“She has steadily gotten better,” the coach noted. “Jaya has kind of a tenacious attitude where she doesn’t let anything freak her out on the course. She stays within herself and she has a pretty good short game. She learns the speed of the greens pretty quickly.”

Sutter said senior Sophia Phillips has “an unbelievable amount of power” in her swing. “Soon, she will learn to control that,” the coach said. “She was a baseball player who had an injury and became a golfer. She got better because she was hanging around with girls who liked to golf.”

The team’s final two seniors — Olivia Snyder and Katie Casida — spend time on both the varsity and junior varsity teams, Sutter said.

“They were girls who came to golf from other sports and other worlds,” he stated. “They weren’t country club girls; they just had the kind of personalities that wanted to be good at something and golf kind of availed itself at the right time in their lives. They are both selfless players who want to do what’s best for the team.”

Sutter said freshman Kiley Blachaniec is proving to be a standout performer for the team.

“Kiley has been playing about four years. She is a three-sport athlete with track, basketball and golf. She played in a couple of tournaments right before the season started, so she was physically fit and ready to go,” the coach said. “Kiley is the whole package. She wants to keep improving.”

Also looking to play a key role for the team this season is junior Shana Zelenka.

“She is very cerebral. She’s a bright girl,” Sutter said. “She has a competitive nature and she wants to be No. 1 at every opportunity. Her mental toughness is one of her strengths, and she has a real good short game. She’s working on her drives to make them a little bit longer.”

Through Aug. 30, Copley was out to a 4-2 start overall and a 2-1 mark in the Suburban League. Sutter said he has seen improvement in his team as the season has progressed.

“The overall stroke count has already come down from 190 to the low 180s,” he said.

Sutter, who is in his third season as the team’s coach, said his initial goal when he took the job was to “go to state within three years.”

“I have not given up on that goal,” he said. “But right now, the main goal this year is to go to districts and play well as a team, with the hopes that one or two players can go on to state.”

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