The Knox women’s golf team will have to look to its young guns for a spark this fall. The roster is comprised of just five women, including a sophomore and a freshman, and a lot of relative inexperience. Still, second-year coach Emily Cline feels optimistic.
“We’re relatively young, but we’re competitive,” said Cline, who also coaches women’s basketball in the winter.
The Fire returns just three starters to a squad, which finished sixth at the Midwest Conference tournament a year ago. Juniors Jessica Demory and Rachel Talpers, who both turned in top-ten efforts in the conference meet last fall, are studying abroad this semester and will not compete for the Prairie Fire.
“[Losing those two] is hard to make up and will impact us, but the girls are working hard,” Cline said.
With the loss of Demory and Talpers, the unquestioned leader is the squad’s lone senior, Maddy Eaton, who returns to the squad after missing a year to study abroad. Sophomore Brittney Ostile and junior Lainey Badger round out the returners.
Junior Claire Anderson, a Galesburg native, also looks to contribute to the team’s success this season. Anderson undoubtedly is looking forward to the Knox Invite, a tournament held at her hometown course, Soangetaha Country Club. The lone freshman is Mia Savard, who comes to Knox from Menifee, California. Cline calls Savard her biggest surprise and a pleasant one.
Cline has also employed a new practice structure from last year’s campaign, trying to do her part to help the team compete at a higher level for longer. A shorter pre-season was installed to help the ladies play their best golf at the right time.
The team has just five meets to prepare for the Midwest Conference Championships, which take place Oct. 2. The Knox Invite, the lone home date, is Sept. 11.
“They are working really hard at practice,” Cline said. “Hopefully, that transfers over.”