West Valley High School’s golf squads swung into Frontier League season openers this week with matches against Clarkston, resulting in a win for the girls and a loss for the boys.
Bill Kirkman, who replaced Jan Carter at the helm of the Eagle girls, said that’s not a bad way to begin a season. Now he’s concentrating on ironing out those small - or, more precisely, short - glitches.
“I’ve been working a lot on their short games, and with some work they can improve their scores tremendously,” he said.
Returning to the Eagle girls this year are juniors Angela Cline, Ashley Schillinger, K.C. Zichler and Holly Peterson. The new face teeing off on the varsity squad is sophomore Melanie LaRoque.
Kirkman said he has high hopes for both Schillinger and Cline.
“I’m interested in seeing what Ashley can do, and Angela just missed going to state by a couple of strokes last year,” he said.
On the boys’ side, Tom Struthers said his Eagles had a tough season opener against last year’s AA state champs, but that a first-match loss won’t put a divot in the season.
“We lost to Clarkston, but that was the first-match blues,” he said. “You’ll hear a lot from us this year.”
Returning to the team are juniors Sean Murray, Jason Whitney and Bart Mortinson. Joining WV is a promising list of freshman, including J.R. Meyer, Eric Gorton, Brandon Frisch and Robert Murray.
“I have high hopes for all my freshman,” Struthers said. “All in all, it’s a pretty well-rounded team.” Both WV teams will resume league play April 13 against Colville at Hangman Golf Course.
Mike Malsom’s EV girls finished with second-place league honors last year, and he’s predicting similar results this time around.
“I think we will certainly be fighting for that spot,” he said.
The big competition for the girls league title is last-year’s champions, Colville.
Two-time state participant Brenda Hall is a returning senior. Also returning is junior Sarah Phillips.
The freshman contingent includes Tina Howald, Delora McLaughlin and Katy Sulpizio.
On the boys’ side, coach Ken Stacy has four returning seniors; a fact making him cautiously optimistic.
“I think we improved a little bit with the seniors,” he said. “This team is comparable to last year’s, but with a little higher skill.”
Hoping to improve on last year’s fourth-place league placing are seniors Jeff Howald, Ben Tombs and Jon Halttunen.
“Ben and Jeff have state potential,” Stacy said.
Other varsity players are Kris Florin, Matt Eastman and Nick Robinson.
The Knights began their season with a match against Pullman at Liberty Lake Golf Course. Their next league match is April 13 against Clarkston at Liberty Lake.