Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Boulder City golf out to defend state crown

By Anthony Fenech

Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009 | 3:11 p.m.

Bridget Ward lined up her putt a few feet from the hole and attempted to finish practice with a perfect performance on the putting green in four tries.

The short putt traveled slowly but disappeared into the hole, a microcosm in the Boulder City High girls golf team’s quest to defend their 3A state championship.

“We’ve definitely putted better than we did last year,” Ward said. “It’s coming along.”

The short game will have to come along if the Eagles want to achieve their goal of winning a second consecutive title.

“We can hit the ball off the tee with distance, that’s our advantage,” Boulder City coach Regina Quintero said. “But where we need to work at is our short game and putting.”

Last season, the Eagles succeeded in large part because of their seniors, who came through the program together determined as freshmen to win the state title.

Halfway through the season, one of those seniors, Bethany Smith, died because of a heart ailment.

“It was tough,” Quintero said. “The team said, ‘Hey, we need to keep playing because that’s what she would want us to do.’”

Keep playing they did, and with Smith’s inspiration in mind, they advanced to the state championship, where they won by 17 strokes.

“It was bittersweet because somebody was missing,” Quintero said. “Everybody was happy, but to a certain point.”

After losing their top two scorers from last year, the squad will have a different feel to it this season.

Returning are four with state tournament experience — Ward and juniors Indiana Mead, Bree Morang, Lizz Ropp — and four newcomers, who took up golf because of a vacancy in their fall sports schedules.

“They’re all competitors and I think they figured this is something that’s going to help them in the future,” Quintero said.

Ward, the team leader and lone returning senior, credits the strong influx of softball players on the team to recruiting the beginners.

“We all know each other, hang out on and off the course and it’s a lot of fun,” she said.

Morang agreed, saying, “Our girls are good all-around and we like to win.”

The coaches believe that with due effort, the girls can knock down their strokes by five or six, from the low-90s to the mid-80s.

“Working hard shows in dropped strokes,” Quintero said. “Our job is to convince them that they do have the ability.”

A slight rule change will make the Eagles title defense tougher. The Southern 3A League, down from four teams last year to three this fall, will only send one team to the state tournament — whereas in years past, two teams qualified.

Mesquite’s Virgin Valley High appears to be the Eagles’ biggest threat. Virgin Valley also will host the regional tournament.

“Last year, we beat them,” said Ward, before acknowledging Virgin Valley is going to field a tough squad. “This year we want to blow them out of the water.”

No comments: