Sidney’s girls golf program has enjoyed a quick rise in its short history. The Yellow Jackets won the Miami Valley League Valley Division and finished second in overall MVL standings in 2021 in what was just the program’s third full varsity season.
“It is hard to forecast how we will do this year,” coach Joe Spangler said. “We lost four seniors. One of those that graduated was second-team MVL and another was first team MVL.”
Four golfers return to help in a quest to earn another divisional title this year, including senior Madison Garber. Garber was a first team all-MVL selection last year. She had a 48.20 nine-hole average and shot a 97 in the MVL tournament at Locust Hills Golf Club in Springfield.
“Madison Garber is a very talented golfer and is getting better, especially in her short game,” Spangler said.
Also returning are senior Grace Work-Steenrod, junior Hannah Carlson and sophomore Tatum Werntz. Spangler expects those three and Garber to be the team’s top four golfers.
“Grace Work-Steenrod is two-time varsity letterwinner and has a lot of potential,” Spangler said. “Hannah Carlson received her varsity letter last year and is improving every time she steps on the course.”
Werntz was also a first team all-MVL selection last year. She had a 47.58 average and shot a 92 in the MVL tournament.
“Tatum Werntz is one of the hardest working individuals that I have seen,” Spangler said. “This work ethic has made her a very consistent golfer.”
Senior Raegan Rotan and junior Layla Spangler round out the varsity squad.
The squad started the season by beating rival Piqua 211-251 in an MVL match last Thursday at Moose Golf Course. Werntz shot a 41 and tied the program’s record for low nine-hole score. Garber set the record last year.
Fort Loramie set slew of program records last year and earned its first state berth since 1996.
The squad lost two multiple-year golfers from that squad but has three returning letterwinners who will look to keep the success up.
“This year will be different for us,” sixth-year coach Kreg Hollenbacher said. “The talent we lost will be extremely difficult to replace. However, so far we have shown that we have some potential and room for improvement. That potential and room to improve has me excited to see how the girls will progress this season.”
Senior Aubrey Turner and juniors Morgan Pleiman and Carlie Goubeaux return for the squad. Turner shot 86 and 90 in two rounds in the Div. II state tournament last October while Pleiman shot an 88 and 101 and Goubeaux shot a 128 and 106.
“Aubrey Turner and Morgan Pleiman are in the discussion for top area golfers,” Hollenbacher said. “They have continually improved their games the past few years, and I look for that to continue this year as well.
The two have helped the squad get off to a strong start this season.
Fort Loramie finished first in Covington’s Lady Bucc Invitational on Monday at Echo Hills Golf Course with a 359, 19 strokes ahead of second-place Versailles. Pleiman shot a personal-best 84, Goubeaux shot a personal-record 86 and Turner shot an 89.
The squad also earned a first-place finish in Riverside’s Lady Pirate Invitational on Tuesday at Cherokee Hills Golf Course in Bellefontaine with a 378, one stroke ahead of Bellefontaine High School. Turner shot an 82 and tied her personal record.
The squad also earned a first-place finish in the Gary Broering Memorial at Mercer County Elks on Wednesday by shooting a 386, 20 strokes ahead of second-place Coldwater. Pleiman led the squad with an 86.
Rounding out the squad are seniors Laura Gusching and Kristen Knasel, sophomore Alexis Jacobs and freshman Madison Pleiman.
The Raiders begin their third varsity year after the program restarted with six returning letterwinners.
Seniors Makena Hoying and Eliza Gariety return along with juniors Lily Fullenkamp and Tori Sherman and sophomores Grace Monnin and Grace Poeppelman.
The squad lost one senior to graduation from last year.
“I am so proud of how our returning players have stepped up in face of this challenge early in the season,” coach Maddie Borchers said. “Their sixth-place ﬁnish at Covington’s Lady Bucc Invitational and fifth-place ﬁnish at the Riverside Lady Pirates Invite prove the promise and talent that our team continues to maintain.
“Several girls have already beaten their PRs from last year in these ﬁrst two competitions. As the season progresses, we look forward to more individual successes like these that improve the overall caliber of our entire team.”
Gariety shot a 97 in the Lady Bucc Invitational, besting her previous personal record by five strokes. Hoying shot a 99 in the Lady Pirate Invitational, besting her previous record by seven strokes.
“Makena Hoying and Eliza Gariety were our go-to No. 2 and 3 golfers last year. It’s been awesome seeing them step into their new leadership roles, setting high expectations, and providing guidance to our younger players,” Borchers said.
“Both seniors have led our team in scoring in an invitational setting early this season, with both girls scoring below 100 for the ﬁrst time.”
Fullenkamp is entering her third season and Sherman is entering her second.
“Both girls have improved so much since last season,” Borchers said. “Tori, who scored in the mid-50s to low-60s in matches late last season, is more consistently scoring in the lower-50s and high-40s range. She continues to be a force with her driver.
“Lily is more consistently shooting in the 50s and has blown me away with how far she has come with her irons this year.”
Monnin and Poeppelman are showing more confidence according to Borchers, who looks for the sophomores to continue to improve their scores this season.
Sophomore Josie Bergman has joined the program, and Borchers said she is already showing improvement.
Cole Maurer takes over as the program’s coach and inherits a veteran roster.
Seniors Audrey Krites, Carly Rogers and Kally Cruset return along with juniors Mallory Havenar and Ava Pettit and sophomore Adrienne Brandewie.
Havenar earned a district berth last season after shooting 93 in the Div. II district tournament at Stillwater Valley Golf Course. She started the season strong by shooting an 89 in the Lady Bucc Invitational at Echo Hills on Monday, good for a sixth-place tie.
Key newcomers according to Maurer include junior Zandria Platfoot, sophomore Abi Prenger and freshman Dana Pleiman.
“Great group of girls to work with,” Maurer said. “We are hoping to compete at the sectional tournament and improve throughout the season.”
Four returning letterwinners are aiming to help lead the Wildcats to a strong showing the Midwest Athletic Conference and in postseason play.
Senior Katie Heitkamp returns along with juniors Ashley Meyer, Ashlyn Homan and Star Weigandt. Junior Kendyl Bergman and freshman Lauren Heitkamp round out the squad’s top six golfers.
“This is a resilient group of young ladies,” coach Debbie Ahrns, who is entering her 19th season, said. “They have a diverse level of playing skills and are eager to get the season rolling.
“… Outlook as the season progresses is we look to make some noise at the top in the MAC, have solid showing in league and tournament play that will yield the trip to the state tournament in Columbus.”
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Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.