By Josh Brown
PIQUA — Replacing graduated players is a common theme at the beginning of every new sports season.
For the Troy girls golf team, the need is a bit more stark.
After graduating seven seniors off of last year’s team, the Trojans fielded a full squad of six first-time varsity players at Wednesday’s Eagles Lady Bucc Pink Out Invitational at Echo Hills, shooting a 504 to finish 13th at the tournament.
“Everyone’s new,” Troy girls golf coach Matt Wibbeler said. “We lost seven seniors from last year’s team. We’ve got two juniors, three sophomores and a freshman this year, and this was everyone’s first varsity tournament experience.
“Judging by the scores, they were nervous. It’s going to be a learning experience this year for them. All of the things the seniors already knew last year, we’ve got to catch them up on. It’ll be about getting back to fundamentals this year.”
Carrigan Browning led the Trojans with a 117, Riley Johnson shot 123, Hannah Simister shot 126, Sydney Langenkamp and Madison Stookey each shot 138 and Megan Sawcheck shot 145.
The Tippecanoe Red Devils — who won last year’s tournament by one stroke over Troy, 356-257 — were the top finisher between Miami County’s schools at the 14-team scrimmage, placing sixth with 413.
“We graduated three girls — Ally Chitwood, Sammie Rowland and Tori Merrick — who had played in the state tournament twice,” Tippecanoe coach Scott Murray said. “You’re just not going to be able to replace that right away. These girls have been playing for about a month, but for playing for that long, they’re playing well.”
The Devils were led by their two returning players, as Taylor Hudson shot an 86 and Lydia Stueve shot a 96. Addi Richardson followed with 112, Mandi Kreinbrink shot 119, Ashlyn Herzog shot 120 and Jessica Goodson shot 128.
“Taylor and Lydia are going to have to play well for us to be competitive,” Murray said. “And the other girls are going to have to keep improving. But it’s been a lot of fun working with them, and I think they’re going to get better.”
Piqua was seventh with 423. Kelsey Bachman shot 101, Korren Evans shot 104, Macey Pruitt shot 106, Anna Klopfenstein shot 112, Adde Honeycutt shot 125 and Skylar Sloan shot 137.
Miami East finished ninth with 441, led by its two returning golfers, as well. Maggie Bergman shot a 93 and Emily Rowley added a 110. Marissa Kearns shot 112, Paige Lawson shot 126, Maci Krites shot 127 and Annelise Logan shot 146.
“Really, returning varsity-wise, we’ve got Maggie and Emily,” Miami East coach Bruce Vanover said. “And Emily’s score is a little deceptive. She played lights out all day, but then she shot a 12 and a 10 on the last two holes. A lot of that was being tired and the heat. I’m not making excuses, but it did play into it. And Maci and Marissa played a lot of JV for us last year. They’re just sophomores, and they struggled a bit but did have some really good holes. And the others are first-year golfers that are getting their feet wet and learning to play.
“The girls didn’t get frustrated today, but they did get tired, so it’s a conditioning thing. I like the challenge of bringing along a young team. By the end of the year, I think we’ll be fine.”
Host Covington — which returns five golfers from last year’s team — finished 10th, shooting a 465. The team’s three seniors led the way, as Kelsey McReynolds shot 103, Addison Metz shot 108 and Megan Alexander shot 124. Noelle Gast added a 130 and Emily Thompson shot 142.
“Only being two days into the season, we’re looking forward to any chance to get out on the course,” Covington coach Adam Sweigart said. “A lot of our girls are two- or three-sport athletes, so there’s not a lot of chances to get clubs in their hands.
“Overall, it was a great opportunity to go out and play golf, it was for a great cause, and we’re looking to improve from there.”
Kenton Ridge won the tournament with a 375 and St. Henry was second with 379. Fort Loramie was third with 383 but boasted the medalist on the day, with Emily Knouff shooting a blistering round of 65.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.