Girls Golf team rides depth, varsity experience to GMC prominence

Cody Allgor | Sports Writer

Senior Catherine Zhang places her ball before putting at the GMC Tournament.

To say the Mason Comets girls golf team has some unfinished business to take care of this year would be a bit of an understatement.

After the team took fourth place at state a year ago and finished second to Lakota East in the Greater Miami Conference, the Comets and their returning five top golfers are well on their way to resolving some of that unfinished business this fall.  

They’ve already accomplished one of those goals. A record breaking performance last week secured a GMC title, their ninth since joining the conference. The Comets’ performance has been due in large part to the return of their top five golfers, a very rare sight in any varsity sport. Along with the return of the top starters, the Comets also added a skilled group of underclassmen, building on the depth of the already strong team. Comets Head Coach Chad Layton said that depth has allowed them to put more players on the course that are competing at the varsity level. 

“This year, we have a lot more depth,” Layton said. “I’ve been able to field two full teams at three 18 hole invitationals up to this point. We have finished first and second at two of those invitationals and first and fourth in the third. [Our top team] is pretty much the same team that took us to state last year.”

With the increased talent on the team, the competition level for a starting spot has continued to rise. Four-year varsity Senior Jenna Harter said that the fight for one of the five available spots to start on varsity has pushed everyone to get better and embrace the competition.

“Having so much talent has challenged everybody on the team to get as good as they possibly can this year,” Harter said. “Everybody wants a chance to play and with this year, not knowing how our season is going to play out, everybody is pushing themselves pretty hard to try to get a spot on the top five.”

Despite everyone playing individually, a team dynamic is just as important in golf because it allows the more experienced players to mentor their younger successors. Junior Ally Madden said that when the underclassmen first joined the team, the older players welcomed them with open arms.

“When the incoming freshmen came in we were all very welcoming,” Madden said. “We wanted to help them because we knew that we were going to have a really good team this year. Having them come in with a ton of talent has made me want to do a lot better.”

On the other side of the spectrum, the underclassmen still have a lot to learn in order to be the future leaders of the team. Varsity freshman Abby Love said that playing with her older teammates has motivated her to be at her best.

“Some of my teammates have invited me to play with them and that makes me want to be better,” Love said. “I feel like when you do any activity with anyone better than you, it makes you want to push to be their level.” 

On September 16th, the Comets took home the Greater Miami Conference (GMC) championship for the second time in the past three years. The Comets now look ahead to the state tournament, which they haven’t won since 2010. Madden said that having the same starting five from last year will play to their advantage.

“Our ultimate goal is to win state this year,” Madden said. “We think we have a really good chance this season since a lot of the other teams lost a lot of their top players last year. We think that goal is achievable.”

The Comets may have a lot of underclassmen talent, but seniors Maddie Heister, Jenna Harter, and Catherine Zhang have all been on varsity since their freshman year. Layton said that all of the seniors have been a big part of the success the Comets have experienced over the last couple of years.

“I have to honor our senior group of girls that are with us right now,” Layton said. “They’re a big part of the reason we’ve been to the state tournament the last two years. Our seniors have set the bar high for everybody else on the team. They lead by example with their work ethic and dedication to the sport and also to the team.”

In the last two years, the Comets have had 7th and 4th place finishes in the state tournament. Harter said that the Comets have not performed to the best of their abilities for the last couple of years, and they are looking to avenge their previous losses.

“Winning in my last year as a Comet is important to me because since sophomore year, we’ve had a strong team and we’ve just had bad rounds at state,” Harter said. “This year, it’s really important to win because as a team, we know we’re good enough to and I also want to leave a good legacy behind when I leave.”