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Hays High headed back to state

Published on -10/14/2012, 8:14 PM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

Hays High School senior golfer Courtney Hess knew the outside expectations for her team were low at the start of the season.

The Indians returned just one regular varsity player from last season's Class 5A state runner-up team, and that player was the team's sixth-best player.

So she understood why people might scoff at the idea of Hays High continuing its legacy of making the state tournament.

However, she said they expected to return, and it didn't surprise her when her team finished third at the regional in Salina and qualified for state for the seventh consecutive year.

"We weren't going to give up," Hess said.

The meet is scheduled for Monday at Emporia Municipal Golf Course. Start time is 8:30 a.m.

Senior Taylor Herman was the only Indian to compete regularly on varsity last season, so players like Hess, senior Zoey Gubitoso, sophomore Lexie Schaben and sophomore Elissa Jensen were left to bide their time on the junior varsity squad.

"They had to wait their turn," Hays High coach Mark Watts said. "I think that made them better by practicing harder and practicing with good players."

The team stepped up out of the gates and played well all year. The Indians capped their regular season by finishing second in the WAC by a wide margin.

At the regional, Hays High got strong all-around performances with five golfers in the top 15.

Herman was sixth with a 92. Hess was ninth with a 95, and Schaben was 12th with a 99. Gubitoso and Jensen tied for 14th with a 104.

"We've all been really consistent," Herman said. "You know what everyone is going to shoot. We usually improve each year, so it's not that surprising."

Hess said she thought the low expectations helped by relieving the pressure.

"We weren't as stressed," Hess said.

However, sophomore Lexie Schaben said following last year's state runner-up finish added pressure.

"We wanted to prove that we could do it," Schaben said. "It was almost more pressure."

At state, Watts said a top-eight, and even a top-five, isn't out of the realm of possibility for this squad.

He said Friday the team was planning to play a practice round Saturday before competing Monday.

Hess attributed her team's success to their work ethic in practice.

"I think we've been working hard at it and trying our best," Hess said. "When you work hard, good things happen."

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