With all the success they’ve enjoyed this fall, between setting numerous school records and fresh off a regional championship, you’d think Spring Lake’s girls golfers would be brimming with confidence heading into the Division 3 state meet this weekend.
But that’s not the case.
“I think the whole team is a bit nervous,” said Lakers’ sophomore Emma Conroy. “We’ve been told by many people how much potential we have this year, how we could win it all if we all play our best. It’s really been nerve-wracking.”
The young Lakers will attempt to put those nerves to rest come Friday morning, when they travel to Allendale to play in the Division 3 state finals at The Meadows Golf Course. The finals wrap up on Saturday.
Spring Lake has a bit of a home-course advantage, having played the course a few times over the past two years, including during a practice round this past weekend.
“We feel confident because we’ve played the course,” Conroy said. “We know how the greens work.”
If the Lakers are able to reach their potential, they could very well turn in the best state meet performance in school history. Coach George Bitner — who has coached the team since its inception in 1980 — said their best finish ever is fourth place.
“The girls have finished in fourth place twice, and that was in the era when there was only one division,” Bitner said. “That had to be in the middle 80s.
“With this team, I would be happy in the top five. The teams are fairly close in the top 6-7. The talent’s sort of divided, some low cores and some higher scores. Of all the regional scores that came in, you have to take the golf courses into consideration, but we were in fourth place.”
Bitner hopes his girls can shake the nerves quickly on Friday, knowing that they’ve already achieved their season goals. Everything else from here on out is a bonus.
“I told the girls, the toughest part of this was getting to state,” he said. “Now that you’re there, you can relax. They can’t take that away from you. It used to be, after the first day, they dropped the bottom five and kept the top 10 teams. Coaches got upset and felt that they had earned their spot, so they changed it. Now everyone golfs both days.”
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