The good news for the Thomas More Prep-Marian High School girls’ golf team is five of the top six golfers will return next season.
The expectation is there would be some bad news.
Nope. Just some better news.
Better being the fact that through the course of 2017 season, the Monarchs have continued to show improvement from one tourney to the next.
That was evident to Monarch coach Jake Befort as he saw his TMP team claim second place Monday at its home invitational at Smoky Hill Country Club.
Less than a week removed from getting beat by Hoisington by 22 shots in a nine-hole tournament, the Monarchs made up significant ground and took second by eight shots in their 18-hole invite Monday.
“We’re really happy with our finish,” Befort said. “Really happy with the way the team placed.”
TMP shot a 413 to Hoisington’s 405 in the runner-up showing. It was highlighted by the play of the team’s top two golfers in junior Shannen Chin and sophomore Haleigh Spray.
Chin had her usual win, claiming first place by 15 strokes and firing an 81. The international student from Taiwan has made a habit of winning tournaments this season, and has set two new school records in the process.
In early September she set the school mark for an 18-hole tournament by shooting a 74 to win at Goodland. Then last week she shot a nine-hole record 37 to win at Clay Center.
“She’s avoiding the bad holes most of the time — double bogeys and triple bogeys,” Befort said of Chin, who averaged an 83 as a sophomore in her first year in Hays. “She had a couple today where she hit the wrong club on the tee, but generally what’s improved the most this season is her worst score is usually a bogey.”
But even when Chin has a bad hole, Befort said, she makes up for it. Like Monday on Hole 6, when she had an out-of-bounds shot, but still managed to make par.
“That’s an ‘Oh my’ moment,” Befort said.
Through three holes Monday, Chin was 2-under, but had a couple of those bad holes he talked about. Chin, though, is more likely to get birdies this year. Her average likely will dip into the 70s for the season. And Befort said there is one more school record yet to be set by the junior — the state tournament score of 85, set by Karee Dinkel, who is now a senior at Hays High School. The other records previously belonged to Dinkel as well.
The Monarchs’ other top golfer, Spray, finished with a 103 Monday to finish fifth. That might not seem like an incredible score, until figuring in the fact her highest as a freshman was 156.
“Really has been the story of the year as far as improvement,” Befort said. “She practices hard, but more than anything she’s got a great positive attitude. That’s what really separates her from any golfers — no matter what or how she’s doing, she looks at the positive.”
The proof, he said, is in her scores.
The Monarchs’ next best scores came from Jenna Romme (109) and Avin Inlow (120) to make the Monarchs’ 413. Abby Heimerman (127), Katy Walters (138), Michaela Dreher (141) and Anne Wasinger (142) rounded out TMP’s day.
TMP next will compete Monday in the Class 3-2-1A regional in Cheney.