GALION — Galion’s golf team has already improved since last year, when it came back into existence after a five-year hiatus.
Coached by Alan Connor, the Tigers return four of their top players from a year ago, all letterwinners.
Three players on last year’s team opted not to return this season.
“Our strength will be those returning girls — junior Missy Vonhoupe and sophomores Julia Conner, Ellexia Ratcliff and Izzie Willacker,” said Connor, in his second year as coach. “With a year under their belt. I expect more confidence and a better understanding of the game.
“We should see better course management … thinking about the correct clubs, distance, paying attention to breaks and lies. As a coach I look forward to watching that develop in our team.”
Newcomers to the squad include sophomore Ava Niedermier and freshmen players Addison Reed and Destany Palaisa. Golfing is a new experience for the three.
“But all three of them have worked very hard learning the basics. I see great potential,” Connor said.
Still with no seniors, inexperience is an issues.
“My biggest concern is the youth,” he said. “We have six underclassmen and the physical part of golf takes its toll on the younger ones. Some of the invitationals will be 8- to 10-hour days. That’s tough on anyone, but especially those athletes that have never competed like that before. Also learning the rules and how to play the game will take some time.”
He summed up his four returning players.
Julia Connor led the Lady Tigers last season with an average of 61. She led the team in scoring in 11 of 15 matches. She was 33rd at last year’s sectional and turned in the eighth-best score at the 2019 Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference tournament.
Willacker had an average of 64 last year, was team medalist twice, with a top score of 58. She had the 12th best score at the MOAC tournament.
Ratcliff averaged 71 last year, and played in every match, gaining valuable experience.
Vonhoupe averaged 61 and is the one upper classmen this season.
“Our team goals fis to win the MOAC,” Connor said. “But the league will be tough this season as Shelby, Clear Fork and Ontario return outstanding golfers. The MOAC added Highland to our league for girls golf so they are a bit of a wild card. Overall, I think Clear Fork and Ontario will be the teams to beat, but don’t be surprised if the Lady Tigers make some noise.”
Galion was 2-10 overall and 1-5 in the MOAC last year.
Already this season Galion’s girls team has seen success. They picked up a win over Elgin, 236-259. They were eighth at the Tiffin Invitational and in the first-ever Crawford County tournament, the team was third, behind Colonel Crawford and Wynford.
Scores for the host Lady Tigers at the county tournament, who had a team score of 244, were Julia Conner, with a 56; Missy Vonhoupe, 57; Ellexia Ratcliff, 63; and Izzie Willacker, 68. Ava Neidermier, 69; Addison Reed, 81; and Destany Palasia, 88; had the drop scores.