2018 Preview: Somerset girls golf team coming off first trip to state
With two players returning from Somerset's first team to qualify for the WIAA state championships, there's a fair amount of rebuilding to be done with the Somerset girls golf team.
The Spartans will be doing that rebuilding under the coach who led the team through most of its existence.
After three seasons away, Bill Powers is coming out of retirement to again serve as the Spartans' coach.
This is a combination that could lead to a quickly improving team in 2018.
Junior Haley Myers and senior Cora Atkins return as members of the first Somerset girls golf team to ever qualify for the WIAA state tournament. Myers was the sectional champion last fall, shooting a 77 at the Luck Division 2 sectional meet. Myers was also Somerset's top finisher at the state meet, tying for 23rd place. Atkins placed 36th in the state tournament results.
Combine those two veterans with some raw but talented players and Powers wizardly coaching and this is a team that could rise quickly. Last Friday the Spartans opened their season by playing at the Barron Scramble. The Spartans shot a 71 to place third in the small school division of the tournament, finishing two strokes off the lead.
Powers came away from the tournament pleasantly surprised with the Spartans' results.
"It was encouraging," Powers said. "They were enjoying themselves and they listened very well."
This is a lineup that could come together quickly. Senior Mara Erickson is another player who can contribute immediately. She hits the ball straight and uses her irons well.
Powers took six girls to Barron to get them extra experience. Myers and Erickson were joined by junior Julia Lacher and freshmen Serenity Slayton, Briley Olson and Maggie Pelletier.
The freshmen could be a group that gives the program prolonged success. Powers said the younger girls are showing progress in every practice, not only in their swing, but in their understanding of the game.
The trio of freshmen who played at Barron will all be in contention for spots in this year's varsity lineup. Powers said Makenzie Weeks is another freshman who will be in the varsity battle. The freshmen are impressing the coaches with their ability to strike the ball. Becoming consistent with their strokes will decide which girls get varsity spots.
Powers isn't the only new coach working with the Spartans. Stacy Bracht is back with the team, this time as an assistant coach. Bracht graduated from Viterbo University after three years, where she was a member of the college's women's golf team. Bracht is a 2015 Somerset graduate. She was the first Somerset girls golfer to compete in the WIAA state championships during her senior season. She is now a graduate student at the University of Minnesota.