After a see-saw battle with Kalamazoo Hackett Prep for runner-up honors in the KVA Conference, South Haven’s varsity girls golf team settled for a respectable third-place finish.
The battle for second place ended last week during the KVA conference tournament where Kalamazoo landed a second-place finish.
The Rams then entered the tournament in third place, just one point shy of Hackett. Kalamazoo Christian was in first with 30 points, Hackett, second with 23 and South Haven third with 22 points.
At the conclusion of the tournament, Kalamazoo Christian retained its first-place standing with 42 points. Hackett followed in second with 33 points while South Haven settled for third with 30 points. Schoolcraft came in in fourth with 21 points, Comstock, fifth with 11, and Michigan Lutheran, sixth with 9 points.
Even though the Rams had to settle for third place in the league, Coach Barry Shanley was impressed with how young the team did this year in light of losing veteran players from last year’s state-qualifying team.
“We began this season with three solid, veteran players, but lost so much to graduation our remaining players were very inexperienced, or brand new to golf,” Shanley said. “You count your low 4 scores out of the 6 you play, so those inexperienced players really did a phenomenal job. They started out the season shooting in the 70s for 9 holes and ending the season usually in the mid-50s. That’s why we were as close and challenging as we were.”
Individually, South Haven standout golfer and senior Sydney Barnes led the conference, by medaling at the tournament. She also finished first, overall, with a seven-round average score of 42.7.
“She is the first South Haven girl golfer to be overall conference medalist,” Shanley said. “She is the greatest player in South Haven girls golf history, and probably the most dedicated, which is no coincidence. She came to every winter swing session we had and it really paid off. She came in first in all but two events in the conference, and statistically ran away with medalist honors. She has an inner strength, where she has developed a quiet center, which shows no emotion. I think that makes for a great future collegiate player.”
Kylie Garnaat of Kalamazoo Christian was the overall conference runner-up with a seven-round average score of 44.57.
Both Hannah Kaczmarek and Samantha Bocock of South Haven also finished in the top 10, overall, in the conference with an average score of 49.85.
“Hannah has been strong all season as just a sophomore, playing second,” Shanley said. And Samantha really came on as the season progressed. It was hysterical to me that they finished the conference season with the exact same number of total strokes and tied for 7th place. This meant for the second consecutive season South Haven had three of the top 10 players in the conference. It is also no coincidence that all three played all summer in my Lakeshore Junior Golf Tour.
“Jocelynn Wolfe, Hannah DeVries and Samantha Beeney are three girls I am so proud of for the incredible progress they made through sheer will,” Shanley sent on to say. “Their perseverance was a great plus.”