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Rock and roll: With most of their team returning, Blue Jays ahead of the game

Jamestown’s Sarah Azure will be the team’s No. 2 golfer when the season starts today at the East-West Classic at the Jamestown Country Club. Sun File Photo / John M. Steiner

The Jamestown High School girls golf team is ready to roll.

Coach Dean Kraft said he’s never had a team as polished to start the season as this year’s crop appears to be.

“The first day of practice, I felt like we could hit the ground running,” he said. “Coming into the season, the girls are as prepared as we’ve probably ever been. They’ve played a lot of golf.”

The Blue Jays host the two-day East-West Classic, starting today at the Jamestown Country Club.

At the forefront of the experience is two-time all-state selection Sierra Bennion, a junior who had the eighth-best average (83.0) in the state last year including the fifth-best in the West Region.

She’s coming off a heavy summer of golf, including competition at Whistling Straits, the site of next year’s PGA Championship.

“It was really a great summer for her,” Kraft said.

Bennion’s average is second-best among West Region returners, coming in just under Bismarck’s Katie Kasper (82.8). The only better average in the East Region belongs to Davies’ Jennifer Marsh (78.1).

However, Bennion’s average was actually higher than her freshman campaign, when she tallied an 81.3. Kraft said staying focused on the task at hand is important, not just for Bennion but the entire team.

“It’s so easy to become results-oriented,” Kraft said. “You cannot think like that. The most important shot is the next shot. Always focus on the next shot. If you can do that, it takes a lot of pressure off you. Trust in what you’ve trained to do and hopefully, it takes care of itself.”

Freshman Sarah Azure figures to slide into the No. 2 hole, vacated by the graduation of Maria LeFevre. She was the team’s No. 3 last year and is eighth among West Region returners with an average of 95.9.

“She didn’t get her summer golf started till July, but she was shooting scores that were right in the upper 80s and 90s,” Kraft said. “We expect her to be a solid No. 2 for us. If she can get us scores like she was shooting this summer, it could really help us.”

Freshmen Kaitlin Mullowney and Mara LeFevre are interchangeable at the third and fourth spots, Kraft said.

The bottom two spots will be a battle of three — Savannah Kramlich, Emily Reiten and Hannah Jorgenson. Kramlich was in the lineup last year, while Reiten is new to golf competition — but not golf — and Jorgenson is a newcomer.

“Between the three of them, one of them will play and the other two will split,” Kraft said.

Though Bennion and Kasper appear to be the top dogs in the West Region’s individual competition, balance could spell out a different story for the team competition.

Century returns six girls who shoot under 100 and Minot has five who shoot less than 102.

“I think Minot and Century will be pretty decent, and us and Bismarck High might have the two best returning players,” Kraft said. “That’s probably the top four.”

Sun sportswriter Chris Aarhus can be reached at (702) 952-8462 or