By Kyle Daubs
While watching the CHS scramble Monday afternoon, Charleston girls coach Todd Kearting said he was pleased that any high school golf was taking place this fall.
He is also excited by his team’s prospects.
The Trojans took second in the scramble at Charleston Country Club, easily beating the third best score by 13 strokes.
Keating knows he has a talented squad.
Im 2019, Charleston took second in the Apollo, won the regional but then faltered in the sectional, finishing ninth.
The team believes it can improve on that performance this season.
“We are in a great position in terms of age and depth, said Keating, in his second year as CHS girls coach. “I’m going to be happy if we can finish the regular season. I’m skeptical about the postseason. It’s just weird times that we are in.”
Despite a nagging knee injury towards the end of her junior campaign, senior Hannah Harpster last year finished as an All-Apollo golfer and a sectional qualifier. However, finishing fifth at conference and no state appearance left a sour taste.
Moving forward, Harpster is a likely contender to win the individual conference title.
“She has a good chance to win,” said Keating. “There was some fierce competition from Kira Wolf last year, but I don’t know anyone else that could put up those numbers. There are golfers who could shoot well, but Hannah has just as good a chance as anyone.”
Wolf, a 2020 Mattoon High School grad, won the Apollo and is set to play the University of Minnesota. Effingham’s Ava Boehm will be Harpster’s main competition, while Effingham will attempt to repeat as Apollo champs.
Boehm led Effingham to the Apollo title last year with a score of 339, while Charleston finished second at 412. In order to compete for the team title, Keating will need help from what he calls “his solid juniors.”
That includes Stacey Zerbst, Taryn Pearson, and Rileigh Babbs. All three often exchanged places as the team’s Nos. 2-4 golfers last year.
“They are all very consistent with their scoring,” said Keating. “Each has their strengths and always end up shooting within the same of each other. Some of them can shoot in the mid to low 40s. If we have three of those scores and Hannah, we are going to have some low scorers as a team.”
The fifth and sixth position will feature a competition between sophomores Madeline Sanders and Malia Hodges. Both played varsity as freshman last year.
“The girls have the capability of making it to state,” said Keating. “Hannah was not at her best last year due to her injury. What was my group of solid sophomores are now my solid juniors. They have all improved their shooting. I’m really hopeful, and I think we have a decent chance.”
Charleston began their season on Monday with the Charleston Scramble. All athletes, parents, and spectators had to wear masks. The only time athletes can take their mask off is when they are hitting. The restrictions will likely last all season.
“We talked about it,” said Keating. “The only thing that worries me is the mask throwing off their rhythm in games. It’s just another variable that you don’t really need. Everyone has the same limitations, so we just don’t know what to expect.”
What Keating can expect is a competitive team that will have plenty of time to prepare for the conference invite. Before Charleston plays in the Apollo Invite, the Lady Trojans will have 12 competitions.
Winning more dual matches is just one of several goals for the team.
“Making it to state would be exceptional,” Keating said. “Winning the Apollo would be nice. We are not sure about Effingham yet, so we will address that when the time comes. I’d really like to see our dual record improve from last year. We were over .500 last year, but I’d really like to see our winning percentage increase.”
|8/19||Taylorville, Mt Zion||South Side CC|
|9/1||St Thomas More||Charleston CC|
|9/2||Mattoon, Effingham||Charleston CC|
|9/9||Olney Invitational||Richland CC|
|9/14||Sullivan, Effingham||Bent Tree GC|
|9/21||Champaign Central||Bent Tree GC|
|9/23||Champaign Centennial||U of Illinois|
|9/24||Eisenhower, Mt Zion, Paris||Eagle Ridge GC|
|9/28||Apollo Conference||Lake of the Woods GC|
|10/1||St Anthony Invitational||Fore Way GC|