Preview: HHS girls golfers are young but experienced
Just one player from last year's Hastings girls golf team has graduated. And, considering that, this next fact is even stranger: There are no seniors on this year's team.
The Raiders have just four juniors on this year's team and one sophomore. The balance of the varsity and junior varsity roster is filled with seventh-graders, eighth-graders and freshmen.
"We are definitely a young team this year," coach Becky Hartung said.
That doesn't mean, though, that Hastings will struggle. The Raiders have three players returning who advanced to the second round of last year's section tournament.
"We want to be competitive this year," Hartung said. "We want to be in the conference's top five. It's a tough conference, but we'd like to be in contention this year.
Hartung expects Stillwater, Forest Lake, Woodbury and Cretin-Derham Hall to lead the Suburban East Conference this season. White Bear Lake should also have a strong team.
"We have a really, really competitive conference, as every sport in our conference does," Hartung said. "We're looking to improve and just be tougher and more competitive in this tough conference."
Captains this year are juniors Sadie Karbo and Haley Jo Kimmen.
Karbo has been in the varsity program since she was in seventh grade.
She shot a 98 in the first round of the section tournament and advanced to the second round of play.
Kimmen also had a 98 in the first round last year and advanced to the second round. She played varsity last season and prior to that was a regular on the junior varsity team.
"They have both taken the initiative," Hartung said. "They've had practices in the preseason, outside of school. They're both just great leaders, and they both have some experience under their belts."
Caitlyn Judge is another junior who returns with all kinds of experience. She had a great section tournament last year, too, shooting a 98 to advance.
Freshman Izzy Karbo will round out what figure to be the top four Hastings players. She has played a fair amount of varsity golf already.
A number of players are vying for the fifth and sixth varsity spots.
"There's a lot of kids on the fence," Hartung said. "It will be competitive. They'll have to compete for that fifth and sixth spot. We'll have some playoff matches, and whoever is bringing in the scores will play fifth and sixth."
Among those players vying for those spots will be a pair of girls who have some varsity experience. They are junior Maddie Bauer and freshman Erin Moes.
Hastings opens its season April 19 with a match at Prestwick against Woodbury.
In order for Hastings to be more competitive, as Hartung hopes, focus will be a key, she said.
"We have to have more focus - we need to be more tough-minded under pressure," she said. "We need some better course management and some consistency. We can't be going up and down. We have to have a consistent golf game."
Hartung believes her team has that ability this season.
"The girls are really motivated this year," she said. "They've been working hard. This is the most rounds of golf we've gotten in at this time of year. The weather has helped us out. That, in turn, is going to make us better as a team. They're getting out and playing more."