October 30, 2013 - By Riley Holder
Review Special Writer
The Lake Orion girls' golf team earned a 10th place finish in the state championships recently, prompting hopes for an even-better season next year.
The lady Dragons qualified for the state playoff by securing a second place finish out of 14 teams at the state regional finals in Port Huron on October 9
The Division One finals took place over the course of two days on October 19 and 20 and Michigan State University's Forest Akers West golf course.
Lake Orion was one of 15 teams who earned an invite to the finals. Each of the two days, every team sent five golfers into action to golf 18 holes, with the best four individual scores being counted towards the team total.
According to head coach Monty Gallaher, "The course is a very difficult course. It's very challenging and very hilly. The greens were rolling pretty good. There were a lot of trees and the rough was really long. The course played extremely long. Normally in tournaments during the year we played 5200 or 5300 yards in terms of total yardage. At the State Finals we were playing 5800 yards, so it was like adding another par 5. In general the course is very difficult and the scores dictated that."
At the conclusion of the first day, the Dragons were in eighth place out of the 15 teams in attendance. Collectively, the team shot 373 on the day. Amongst the scores that counted were freshman Moyea Russell with an 88, sophomore Lauren Danielson with an 88, junior Sam Fox with a 97, and sophomore Megan Miller with a 100. Plymouth had the lead at the end of the day with a 358, just 15 strokes ahead of the Dragons.
Rains came on the second day, which showed in the scores. Play is only suspended in cases of lightning, so despite the constant precipitation all day, the girls played on as the lightning stayed out of the area. The team shot 379 on the day, six strokes higher than the previous day.
The order of scoring from the Dragons top four players remained consistent on day two. Russell shot an 87, making her the only Dragon to improve her score from day one to two. The other three scores that counted included Danielson with a 92, as well as a 97 from Sam Fox and a 103 from Megan Miller.
The two day score of 792 was good for a 10th place finish overall for the Dragons.
"I'm very happy with the finish because I don't look at it 10 out of 15, I look at it as 10th in the entire state. You're looking at about 100 teams in division 1 girls' golf, and we were in the top 10 percent. Tenth place is great. At the beginning of the season anybody would've said, "You're going to take tenth place in the state" I'd be happy with that, as I am right now."
In terms of strengths and weaknesses from the two day event, Coach Gallaher said the team's mental toughness specifically stood out to him.
"As tough as the golf course was, and with the scores being up there, the one thing that I kept reiterating to the team was "just one shot at a time." Our motto is "one shot at a time with confidence." You can't worry about 80 shots, you can't worry about 40 shots, all you can do is take one at a time and do the best that you can. After you take the shot you just have to accept the result."
Next year's team returns all 6 golfers who were on the varsity team this season, as not one golfer was a senior this year. Despite the state finals being so recently completed, with such a young team, Coach Gallaher has his eyes on next season.
"If somebody asks me at the beginning of the season next year 'will you accept tenth' I would say no. We're definitely going to better next year. I'm not going to say we should win the state championship because so many things have to fall in place. But if you prepare well enough, good things happen to you. Do I think that we can finish better? Yes. Am I going to say, "If we don't do this it will be a total failure?" No. I'm not going to set any number on it. I'm just going to say that I expect us to be better."
With the conclusion of the season, awards and recognition for the season was announced. Danielson and Russell were both named to the OAA Red All-League team for their accomplishments this season.
"It was very challenging, but we're very young, so gaining the experience is going to be something that moving forward is going to pay dividends in the long run. The one thing we want to take away is just experience and the knowledge that we've done it before and we can do it again."