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Golf: Competition is buzzword around South Kitsap
It is a word that has South Kitsap girls golf coach Mandy Wood excited.
In addition to five returning players, Wood’s squad features just as many newcomers. But she said one significant difference this year is all of her new players have significant experience in the sport and could press for varsity spots.
It begins with freshman Sarah Kopta, who begins the season as the Wolves’ No. 3 golfer.
“Sarah could move up,” Wood said. “She has a ton of potential.”
Junior Marissa Casanova returns as South’s No. 1.
“She almost made it to state last year,” Wood said. “She’s been working hard and I expect good things to happen to her.”
Casanova felt she could have made it last year until she struggled at the district meet.
“This year I definitely want to go to state,” said Casanova, adding that she scores in the low 90s on her best days. “I just need to keep calm and stay focused.”
Wood said senior Kaitlyn Spellman opens the season as South’s No. 2, but the three varsity positions behind her and Kopta are open. Juniors Natalie Feeney and Kylie Wong and senior Mayghan Thon all return. Wood expects them to be challenged by sophomores Emily Easterday and Kelsea Haskins and freshmen Karly Easterday and Mackenzie Rill.
“There’s going to be a lot of shuffling,” Wood said. “I think it’s pushing them to work harder. They’re stressing out, but I’m loving it.”
The Wolves’ only loss was four-year varsity mainstay Melissa Pratt, who graduated.
Because of that, Wood feels South should be competitive in Class 4A Narrows League competition. She expects the school’s toughest competition to come from Bellarmine Prep, Gig Harbor and Olympia.
On the boys side, the theme is similar.
“We’re building for the future,” coach Sean Duttry said.
Owen Matheson, the Wolves’ lone senior, expects to move into the No. 1 spot.
“He looks really good,” Duttry said. “He could challenge to go to state.”
Matheson, who said he typically shoots in the mid to high 80s, said he is trying to fend off a challenge from junior Vince Bachteler for the top position.
“I have solid technique,” Matheson said. “If I can just calm down and keep a level head, that will help me a lot.”
South graduated a large group of seniors last year, led by Steven Wood, who advanced to state. But Duttry feels like his squad can be competitive in 4A Narrows outside of Bellarmine Prep, Gig Harbor and Olympia. He said those squads feature “college-level players.”
Duttry expects the varsity lineup to be rounded out with juniors Kai DeSmet, Jaron Burbank and Derek Crenshaw and sophomore Joel Sherman. But he said a half-dozen newcomers, led by sophomores Caulin Bakalarski and Ryley Callaghan, could challenge for playing time.
“They just have to figure out how to score,” he said.
Duttry said the biggest challenge his squad has encountered is the heavy March rainfall that has limited their time on the links.
“The weather has kept us off the course,” he said. “I don’t know if the new guys will be scoring at a consistent rate.”
But if that improves, Matheson said there could be plenty of shuffling in the lineup.
“There’s not going to be one standout,” he said. “We’re going to rely on our depth.”