By Kyle Daubs

Stacey Zerbst wants to be No. 1. 

Zerbst enjoyed a successful junior campaign that saw the Charleston High School girls golf team win the Apollo Conference for the first time in five years, capture its eighth straight IHSA Regional Championship, and qualify for the IHSA state finals – had there been a state series. 

With Hannah Harpster having graduated, Zerbst believes several players can fill in at that No. 1 spot – although she believes that she can rise to that level through the season. 

“I believe we all can be the No. 1 golfer on the team, but I am hoping that I achieve that spot myself,” said Zerbst. “I don’t want anyone else to feel the weight. To me, it’s a big responsibility to be No. 1 and I want that to get to the next level. I want to help the team and achieve it just as a goal for my own sake. If I am not, I have faith in the others that they can be the No. 1 on the team too.”

Zerbst will be one of four returning golfers from last year’s squad. Both Zerbst and Taryn Pearson were All-Apollo selections last year while junior Madeline Sanders made great strides towards the end of the season. With Riley Babbs also in the fold, Zerbst is hopeful that the team can qualify for the state for the first time since 2018, although last year’s squad unofficially earned a berth. 

“That’s the plan, for sure,” said Zerbst. “We gain two new players and we have a good idea that they are going to be very good for our team. Still, there is a solid group already here. I have high expectations for myself and for us to get past the sectional again.” 

Charleston placed second overall at the Rochester Sectional, where Zerbst led all CHS scorers. She shot an 18-hole score of 90, one of her best finishes all year, to take 13th overall. 

“I’m hoping that I can get 45 or below or shoot for low 40s regularly during the season,” said Zerbst. “I will need a lot more from my short game and I probably need to consider more of my aiming. I play more of a dangerous game and not so conservatively, so those are just a few things to consider.”

Zerbst cited that the “coaches will straighten things out” when the season officially starts on Aug. 9. She stated that she might need to play a little more conservatively this year, but said that her more “dangerous” approach has helped with her overall confidence. 

“I’m OK with taking more risks,” said Zerbst. “I know that there are some shots that I can make that other people don’t shoot sometimes with how far I can drive and how I can bend around the corners. It’s just that I know I can do it, and I have the confidence to do it.”