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SPOTLIGHT
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Indian golf looks to replace tough team

Published on -8/26/2012, 6:12 PM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

It's a new era for Hays High School girls golf.

Last year, the Indians had their best season in the program's history. Hays High finished second at the Class 5A state golf tournament and four girls earned all-state honors. However, the top five golfers were seniors.

This season, only two golfers who competed at multiple varsity meets, seniors Taylor Herman and Courtney Hess, return. Only Herman played in the most of the varsity tournaments.

"All (the past senior) girls are hard to say goodbye to, but last year's were especially hard," said 23rd-year Hays High coach Mark Watts. "That's not an easy task (to replace them)."

Watts said while expectations for this season might not be as high as they were for this past season, he thinks this team has an opportunity to make its mark and continue the Indians' tradition of success.

He doesn't expect this year's team to unseat the defending WAC champions, Garden City, but repeating last year's second-place finish in league isn't unrealistic.

Hays High also has a six-year streak of qualifying as a team for the state tournament.

"If our girls play the way I think they can, and they put the time in, I think we have a good chance of making the state tournament again, which would be amazing story because of what we graduated last year," Watts said.

Herman likely will lead the way for the Indians this season. She competed at the state meet and tied for 41st with a score of 108.

Last season, Herman averaged 48.2 strokes on 9-hole courses and 95.8 on 18-hole courses.

Herman's best performance last season was at the Liberal Invitational when she finished as the fourth-best golfer on her team. She placed fifth at the meet and recorded a 9-hole total of 42.

"(Herman) has put up some good numbers for us," Watts said. "She has a lot of athletic ability. ... She can hit with anybody. It is just a matter of getting through the mental part of it."

Hess averaged 48.2 strokes on 9-hole courses and 96.0 on 18-hole courses.

Sophomore Lexie Schaben will play as the No. 3 golfer. She averaged 55.8 and 105.5.

Sophomore Elissa Jensen and senior Zoey Gubitoso will round out the varsity lineup. Jensen averaged 59.0 and 118, while Gubitoso averaged 57.8 and 111.5.

Watts said he will leave the final slot open since the other two girls on the roster, senior Madison Haines and sophomore Macie Mayo, have limited experience. They will compete on the junior varsity level, and the better golfer will win that No. 6 spot on the varsity squad later in the season.

Watts said many of this year's squad didn't get to experience the emotional highs that accompanied last season, but this is a new year.

"I just want us to get better every tournament and get better at practice," Watts said.

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