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Girls Golf: Cougars face uphill climb back to Northern League contention

 


Niwot head golf coach Ed Weaver is clear about the challenges the Niwot girls golf team faces this season.

“It’s truly in a rebuilding year,” he said.

In 2016, the Cougars placed third at the 4A Northern Regional, and were just two strokes away from qualifying for state as a team. But both of last year’s state qualifiers graduated, and this year’s projected number-one, junior Rosie Setter, suffered an ACL-tear during a basketball game in January, and will miss the entire golf season. Weaver himself is new to the team, having assumed the top spot after former coach Dylan Hollingsworth was arrested for assaulting a student in November 2016.

So Weaver’s expectations for this season are modest. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for optimism.

The 2017 Cougars’ golf team will feature a combination of returning veterans and fresh new talent. Three varsity members from last year are returning to the team, including seniors Sarah Scharff and Avery-Grace Blanco. Junior Mya Ostrom, who placed 55th at the 2016 4A Northern Regional, is also back for 2017.

Joining the upper classmen are ninth-graders Julia Solem and Trinity Pleffner. Two other girls, junior Tori Sexton and freshman Natalie McCarty are new to golf, and Weaver sees them becoming tournament ready later in the season.

Among the newcomers, Weaver said that Solem, whose brother Jackson Solem was the boys golf 4A state champion in 2015 and runner-up last season at Silver Creek, has the potential to make an impact right away.

“I have high hopes for her,” said the coach, who sees the freshman fitting into his number-two slot, with a chance to compete for number-one.

At the league level, Niwot no longer has to worry about Erin Sargent of Silver Creek, last year’s 4A individual state champ who graduated in 2016. But that doesn’t necessarily make the road any easier. Northridge, which finished fifth at state last year, is returning most of its top golfers, while Thompson Valley will also be looking to build on its strong state tournament finish.

While Weaver is circumspect about making a firm prediction, he said he expects the girls “to continually improve throughout the season.” Overall, said he hopes to see “two or three” of his golfers qualify for the state tournament in May. And if the team has had its share of setbacks so far this year, Weaver is convinced the Cougars girls golf team is destined for a brighter future.

“The nice news is we have freshmen who have some promise, and Rosie and Maya will be back,” he said. “Next year, I could be looking at a completely different snapshot.”

The Cougars kick off the 2017 season at the Chilly Chili Invitational at Eagle Trace Golf Course on March 11th. Their first league meet is scheduled for Tuesday, Mar. 21 at Marianna Butte in Loveland.

 

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