Successful season for girls varsity golf ends, talented returning players bring high hopes for next year

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Successful season for girls varsity golf ends, talented returning players bring high hopes for next year

A seventh-place finish at the State Tournament and second place in the OK White conference made for a successful 2018 season for the girls varsity golf team.

“Overall we had a great season,” Head coach Paul Ten Eyck said. “Finishing in the top ten in the state was quite an accomplishment.”

After a couple rocky outings at the beginning of the season, the Lady Rangers finally had things click in late August at the Kent County Classic, where they were able to take home first place.

“Originally we thought we weren’t even going to play [the Kent County Classic] because it was supposed to rain, but it ended up just sprinkling throughout the round,” junior Ally Ringler said. “Over the summer I played in a scramble there with [senior] Kayley Reynolds as my partner and then [seniors] Haley Hamill and Kacie Rispler together, so we already knew the course and how to play it.”

The rest of the season, comprised of conference jamborees, left FHC in second place week after week behind Forest Hills Northern. Sharing a conference with FHN, now back-to-back State Champions as a team, proved to be very tough for the Rangers. In the FHN jamboree, FHC came only 6 strokes behind the Huskies – the closest margin all season. This outing was held at a very challenging golf course, Egypt Valley Country Club, making this tight score gap even more impressive.

“Egypt Valley is one of the hardest courses we play all season, and it is very hard to walk,” senior Kayley Reynolds said. “Since this course is so hard, it wasn’t the course we expected to be so close to beating Northern on.”

A point of struggle all season team-wide for FHC was the short game of chipping and putting. The extra strokes near the green added unneeded points to the Rangers’ scores in close matches.

“It is really easy to either lose or gain strokes around the green,” Ally said. “Every putting green is different with how fast it is and the break, and there are always some of those three-footer, easy putts that we miss and get frustrated about.”

Ally proved to be a season-long leader on the course. After working hard in the offseason, she consistently held the lowest score on the team and was within just a few strokes of par on many courses. At the Cedar Springs jamboree held at Cedar Chase Golf Course, Ally finished just 4 strokes over par. Fellow junior Mandy Ehrlich started to shine halfway through the season and the two competed with one another to earn the lowest score for FHC in each match. Mandy was able to improve immensely and secure the top score for the Rangers at the State Tournament with a 170 after 36 holes.

“We were kind of surprised at how much Mandy improved from last year because she only moved up to varsity at the end of the season for a few tournaments,” Kayley said. “I think next year Ally and Mandy could definitely be in the top-ten for their senior year if they continue to work during the upcoming winter and spring.”

The senior leadership on this close-knit team was unprecedented. The roster carried four seniors who have been dedicated to the golf program all four years, players Ten Eyck described as, “irreplaceable.” Captains Kayley and Kacie were big motivators for the team, an impressive feat considering the individual nature of the sport.

“Being on the golf team has given me four of my best friends, three being other seniors, so it is kind of bittersweet having the season end,” Kacie said. “I put in a lot of work for four years and I won’t continue [to play] in college, but I know I will still play for fun. The four [seniors] will always be friends even though our golf careers are done.”

Despite graduating talented and motivational seniors, there is plenty of returning talent for next season. Ally and Mandy, in addition to some JV players, will carry the team next year, as the Lady Rangers look to have another strong season in 2019.

“Our goals next year will be same as every year: win conference and qualify for the State Finals,” Ten Eyck said. “We have two returning All-Conference players in Ally and Mandy, and I feel like we will get better throughout the winter and be ready to go next fall.”

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