Young Jays open up todayOnly a freshman, Sierra Bennion leads the Jamestown High School girls golf team into a season of uncertainty.
By: Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Only a freshman, Sierra Bennion leads the Jamestown High School girls golf team into a season of uncertainty.
The seven-member squad features four seventh-graders, two freshmen and a junior in Maria LeFevre.
However, coach Dean Kraft brims with optimism when he thinks about the potential of the Blue Jays, considering Bennion and LeFevre both finished in the top 15 in the West Region last year.
“We’ve got a couple of returning players that have a lot of experience,” Kraft said.
The Blue Jays kick off their season at the Lifetime Vision Center East-West Classic at 1 p.m. today at Jamestown Country Club. The two-day tournament concludes Tuesday, which has a start time slated for 8 a.m.
With a young team, Kraft said opening up at home is important.
“Right now, we just need competitive experience. This tournament’s nice to have on our home course, especially with young players who haven’t really seen many courses around the state,” Kraft said. “It’ll be nice to be in familiar surroundings with a young team like that.”
Bennion, who was an all-WDA selection last year after finishing sixth with an average of 86.8, is undoubtedly the team’s No. 1 golfer, and Kraft said any success will start with her. She finished in a tie for 13th in statewide averages, just missing out on all-state by less than a stroke. The top 12 girls were given the all-state nod, as top 10 and all ties get the call.
“Every team needs a player that can go low at some point, and that’s something we need with her,” Kraft said. “Making birdies, pars on the course — we need her to do that.”
A long-ball hitter off the tee, Bennion often avoids the hassle of having to play with longer irons, Kraft said.
“She’s got a lot of length. She can hit the ball a long way,” Kraft said. “That can be a huge advantage, not only off the tee, but with her iron play. It’s her ability to come into greens with shorter irons.”
LaFevre is the team’s No. 2 and provides the Blue Jays with a solid 1-2 combination. She was named to the all-West Region team last year for her performance at the region meet.
“She’s a three-year starter for us, just like Sierra,” Kraft said. “Maria really improved her game a lot last season. From what I’ve seen in practice, she’s got herself back in the form of where she finished last season.”
A trio of seventh-graders makes up the next spots, led by No. 3 player Kaitlin Mullowney, who Kraft said took summer lessons in Fargo.
“A lot of times, those seventh-graders come in and are a beginning-style of golfer,” Kraft said. “She’s not. Kaitlin’s got an understanding of how to play the game. She’s as far along as I’ve had with a seventh-grader.”
Sarah Azure “picked up the golfing bug this spring” and looks to be the team’s No. 4 player. A steady summer of golfing has put her in position to be ready for the season, Kraft said. Mara LaFevre — Maria’s sister — is penciled in at No. 5 after, like Azure, using the summer to prepare for this fall.
Kraft added that the three seventh-graders could see their scores bounce around, as all three are somewhat close, competitively.
The sixth and final varsity spot belongs to freshman Savannah Kramlich, though Kraft said seventh-grader Ashley Weis could provide her with some competition.
Though Kraft said his girls aren’t beginners, it could take them some time to get used to playing competitive golf.
“That’s gonna be a full season process,” he said. “You can’t expect them to shoot numbers that are gonna elevate us in tournaments right off the bat. (With) practicing every day and taking instruction they’re getting and applying it, they’ll see their scores steadily come down.”
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org