The high school girls golf season is just beginning, but one local team already has its eyes on the state tournament.
Center Grove coach Jim Williams has his team gearing up to make another run at the IHSAA state finals scheduled for Oct. 2-3 at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel.
At the end of last season, the Trojans were ranked No. 16 in the final coaches poll. After winning a sectional and finishing third at the regional, Center Grove placed 10th in the 15-team state finals.
Despite the graduation losses of Raquel Helton and Marissa Anderson, the Trojans return three solid starters from a year ago — senior Sydney Abbott, who played the No. 1 position all of last season and juniors Shelby Schier, a two-year starter, and Hannah Wilson.
“I truly believe we have a shot at getting back to the state finals,” Williams said. “We have a good chance of developing a number of kids into the fourth and fifth positions by way of team competitions.
“With the experience gained from a year ago and their summer play, I anticipate juniors Kirby Swails, Sydney Castellanos and others will be ready for the challenge of every day varsity play.”
Abbott said she not only has improved her game but is eager to take on a bigger leadership role.
“Raquel (Helton) was great with that last year. She helped us remember what golf is really about and that’s to have fun. By keeping things light, she helped take some of the pressure off of us.
“We’ve all been working on the little things to help improve our position,” she said. “If we keep the same mentality that we did last year, I definitely think we’ll make it back to state.”
Schier has had a busy summer, highlighted by wins in the Indianapolis Junior Golf Foundation’s City Championship and the Mayor’s Cup. She also has high expectations for the team this season.
“We kind of know what’s expected of us,” she said. “We’ve talked about it a lot. Our mental approach will be better I’m sure.
“I really like the competition. It makes you want to work all that harder.”
Wilson said the accomplishments of a year ago will serve as a reminder of all the hard work the team put in day in and day out.
“We play a very tough schedule; and when you’re playing against the best, it makes you a better player,” she said. “The spring and summer months are vital in helping improve every part of your game.”
Wilson played on the Indiana Junior Golf circuit this summer and had five top-10 finishes.
“It’s not so much how far you get off the tee, it’s more about your short game. Getting up-and-down with those one-putts really helps boost your confidence,” she said.
The Trojans begin the season at the Plainfield Invitational next Monday, followed by Greenwood on Aug. 4, Bloomington North on Aug. 6 and the prestigious State Preview Meet at Prairie View Golf Club on Aug. 8.