Highland girls golf team aiming for state tournament
GRANGER — This year’s Highland High School girls golf team has already claimed its fifth-straight Suburban League title and now head coach Mary Becker said her golfers have “a goal to be one of the top six teams in the state.”
Highland earned the Suburban League championship by winning the league tournament Sept. 23, in addition to winning the preseason tournament and also earning a perfect 7-0 record in league play.
“We wanted to win our league, which we accomplished, and now we want to return to the state tournament,” Becker said. “We want to finish in the top half of the state tournament.”
Next on Highland’s agenda was the sectional tournament, which began Oct. 1 at Turkeyfoot Links (results were not available at presstime).
Becker said her players have been busy preparing to make some noise this postseason.
“We’ve just been trying to get the kids very confident in their swings, and I think most of our kids are at that point or nearing that point,” she said. “They’re feeling pretty confident. It’s just a matter of working on the mental game and the execution, and then practicing on the courses where we are going to play.”
According to Becker, two of the team’s seniors, Rachel Horvath and Karly Alexander, are among the top five golfers on the team.
“Rachel is a four-year varsity letter-winner and a two-year state qualifier. Rachel is kind of small in stature, but she has an awesome short game. She posts consistent scores for us,” the coach said. “Karly is a one-time state qualifier. She actually didn’t play her sophomore year — she played soccer, but came back to golf — and we were happy to have her back. She’s an excellent golfer. She is one of my most improved players this year.”
Two more seniors have played primarily on Highland’s Varsity B squad: Annie Phillips and Devon Dubiel, each of whom has played for the school’s golf program for all four years.
“Both kids on most other schools would be on the Varsity A team, but unfortunately their scores weren’t quite low enough to make the Varsity A team here at Highland,” Becker said. “They’re both great kids, and I wanted to keep them involved in golf, and that’s one of the reasons I ran a Varsity B schedule.”
Two juniors who place among the team’s top five golfers, the coach said, are Chloe McKenzie and Hallie Schuld.
“Chloe is my No. 1 player. She averages around 77 strokes per 18 holes. She’s led our team all year and medaled in probably over half of the rounds we’ve played. She’s very consistent and has an excellent short game,” the coach said. “Hallie is another kid who has made a big improvement from last year. She kind of had a wrist injury midseason that slowed her down a bit, but she has started to come on and play better.”
In addition, Becker said, two freshmen have played key roles for this year’s team.
“Our No. 2 player is Madison Butler, and she’s averaging right around 80. She’s a solid player who has stepped up and made a good transition into the high school program and established herself. She has a lot of potential,” the coach said. “The other freshman is Christina Williams, and she’s been kind of the surprise player to me. Her average has been right around 87, but she’s medaled in some of our B tournaments and our junior varsity tournaments and made all-tournament teams in some of the B tournaments. She’s really kind of stepped up and grabbed our sixth spot. She’s in the mix for deciding who will play at the state tournament level or will be an alternate.”
Becker said most of the team’s top players are “pretty even” in terms of their talent and abilities.
“I don’t have anybody that is a true superstar, but I have kids that — beyond Chloe — can shoot anywhere from 78 to 85. The top four or five can shoot in that range. We have good depth and we have good, solid players,” she said. “If I had to describe our team, I’d say we have a great blend of veterans and newcomers, with two seniors, two juniors and two freshmen in our top six. I think we are really working on establishing a tradition of bringing in good players every year. That keeps our program rolling and keeps us at a consistent high level.”
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