Golf teams have balance of experience, youth

Herald File Photos
Brynn Leinenbach will be one of three returning seniors for Jasper’s girls golf team who enters their second season under the direction of head coach Jan Tellstrom. Leinenbach, Haley Schroeder and Madeline Springer will look to use their experience to try and guide the Cats to a third straight sectional championship.

By JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

Believe it or not, it’s August. The kids will be going back to school soon and fall sports will follow.

After the boys did their thing in the spring, it’s the ladies’ turn to take to the links with their drivers, irons and putters in search of clear fairways and calm greens. Here’s a look at some of the area girls golf teams that will be teeing off this fall.

Jasper Wildcats                                 

Last Season: Won the Big Eight Conference title, took home a sectional crown and finished 10th overall in regional.

Opening Match: Lady Memorial Tiger Invitational at Evansville Memorial, today at 9 a.m.

Returning Golfers:

Brynn Leinenbach, Sr.

Haley Schroeder, Sr.

Madeline Springer, Sr.

Isabella Olinger, Soph.

Key Newcomers:

Elizabeth Ackerman, Fr.

Avery Bartley, Fr.

Halle Knies, Fr.

Ainsley Pierce, Fr.

Anna Schmitt, Fr.

Notable: The Jasper Wildcats feature a team top-heavy with seniors and filled out with underclassmen, including five freshmen. Coach Jan Tellstrom, a former PGA professional, is excited for the upcoming season to teach his new crop the way of the game and watch them grow throughout the fall.

After breaking in his coaching chops last season, Tellstrom is looking forward to taking the next step. With that, he welcomes the opportunity to immerse the freshmen in the culture of the sport and believes they have what it takes to be solid golfers for the Wildcats for the next few seasons. Where he wants to see them improve the most over the fall is their putting — Tellstrom believes that games where the girls may not be getting their best shots can always be saved by keeping the strokes on the green to a minimum.

The team will be led by senior Brynn Leinenbach, who Tellstrom said has one of the best golf swings he has ever seen, and senior Haley Schroeder. Senior Madeline Springer has made great strides in the offseason in her game and temperament which will help solidify the top of the lineup and trickle down to the underclassmen on the team should they find themselves getting frustrated during the matches.

Quotable: “I believe it’s a to-be-determined kind of arrangement,” Tellstrom said about measuring how successful the team could be this season. “I am cautiously confident that everyone that plays will feel like we did a little better than they thought (they would).”

After an impressive freshman season, Baileigh Schneider will enter her sophomore year as Southridge’s No. 1 golfer. With several other strong golfers such as seniors Megan Buechler, Macie Marley and Peyton Nalley the Raiders will be hoping to once again advance to the regional tournament.

Southridge Raiders

Last Season: Finished third overall in Pocket Athletic Conference match; finished third overall in sectional to advance to regional where they finished 17th overall.

Opening Match: Bedford North Lawrence Invitational on Aug. 3, 8 a.m.

Returning Golfers:

Megan Buechler, Sr.

Macie Marley, Sr.

Peyton Nalley, Sr.

Kaitlyn Evans, Jr.

Isabel Morrison, Soph.

Baileigh Schneider, Soph.

Key Newcomers:

Meredith Heim, Soph.

Kylie Evans, Fr.

Brooklyn Guth, Fr.

Anna Hewitt, Fr.

Emma Marley, Fr.

Ella Mattingly, Fr.

Notable: The Southridge Raiders are looking forward to taking the next step after advancing past sectional play as a team last season. The Raiders graduated three seniors from last year’s team, but coach Tom Collins is confident the girls he has can step up and fill in the gaps to minimize any drop off from last season’s success.

Collins wants to see his team’s putting improve, as cutting down those strokes goes a long way over 18 holes. He is encouraged by how quickly the freshmen are picking up the game, and thinks that everyone should be where they need to on the progression scale by the time sectional play starts at the end of the season.

Sophomore Baileigh Schneider will be returning as the Raiders’ No. 1 golfer, and Collins is looking for her to continue growing in terms of managing the game better. Collins said if she does that and improves on her shot selection, her scores could drop by a good clip as the season goes on. Seniors Peyton Nalley, Macie Marley, and Megan Buechler will be big in filling in the two, three, and four spots on the team. Collins also figures sophomore transfer Meredith Heim will play a key role in bringing her experience from Jasper to help out the Raiders. Sophomore Isabel Morrison should round out the top six for Southridge.

Quotable: “I’m happy that the girls are wanting to come out and play,” Collins said. “I’m very encouraged by what I’ve seen so far. As far as a goal for this year, I’m sure they want to make it out of the sectional as a team this year.”

Audrey Jones is one of just two Forest Park golfers with previous high school experience joining junior Makayla McKim. The Rangers have an area-high seven freshmen on the roster.

Forest Park Rangers

Last Season: Finished seventh overall in Pocket Athletic Conference match; finished ninth overall in sectional.

Opening Match: Opened the season on July 31 against Springs Valley; next match will be against Southridge on Aug. 7.

Returning Golfers:

Audrey Jones, Sr.

Makayla McKim, Jr.

Key Newcomers:

Ella Borden, Fr.

Alice Frehim, Fr.

Shelby Hanna, Fr.

Kelsie Jacob, Fr.

Maya Jones, Fr.

Alexis Lasher, Fr.

Grace Wendholt, Fr.

Notable: Forest Park coach Pat Schuler is going into the season with a very young team and only has the luxury of two girls with previous high school golf experience. But he is ready for the challenge of a rebuild. There are a lot of unknowns that come with freshmen, which Schuler won’t be able to parse out until they start playing matches. But he believes that if all goes well this trial by fire can set up Forest Park with a solid foundation for the next few seasons.

The biggest challenge is simply getting the new girls accustomed to the game and all the rules that surround it. Schuler intends to be deliberate about how he coaches their mechanics and course management, but he knows that the only way for them to truly put it all together is to have them participate in matches during the season.

Senior Audrey Jones and junior Makayla McKim will be the top two golfers for the Rangers. Of the seven freshmen joining the team, five are total newcomers and the other two have limited prior experience.

Quotable: “The objective is teach them the game,” Schuler said. “We’ll teach them the game and go from there.”

Heritage Hills Patriots

Last Season: Finished eighth overall in Pocket Athletic Conference match; finished eighth overall in sectional.

Opening Match: vs. Boonville, today at 2 p.m.

Returning Golfers:

Selena Barrientos, Jr.

Chloe Gideon, Jr.

Jayden Reyes, Jr.

Autumn Smith, Jr.

Lucia Yanez, Jr.

Reyes

Notable: Heritage Hills coach Dave Jochim put it plainly and said this season will be a rebuilding year for the Patriots. With the departure of regional qualifier Vicki Nelson and his other seniors from last year, Jochim will be dealing with a team that for the most part is totally new to the game of golf.

But even though Jochim has his work cut out for him, he said the girls he has are a coaches dream. They work hard, listen to what he advises on the course and they have good attitudes about growing their game even as they work through the rough patches. But Jochim knows he will have to exercise patience as he guides golfers that, for all intents and purposes, are brand new to the game.

Juniors Jayden Reyes, Autumn Smith, and Chloe Gideon are projected to be the top golfers for the Pats this season. Gideon and Smith lead the team with three years of high school golf experience. Selena Barrientos and Lucia Yanez, who are also juniors, have two years of experience under their belts and will also be featured prominently during the course of the season.

Quotable: “Is it going to be a long season? Yeah,” Jochim said. “Is it going to be a fun season? I think it’s going to be a fun season, because they’re going to learn.”




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