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Girls golf team shoots for successful season

(Left to right, front to back) Carlie delaPaz, Claire Hurford, Emily Zeliasko, Dana Dereyckere, Terra Corcoran, Marisa O'dea, Rachel Moses, Katie Mattiellio, Coach Terry Kelley, Jordyn Hillary, Emily Cleland, Alicia Kuligowski, Kyla Kurczewski, Riley Hayes and JV coach Gretchen Gabler. Not pictured: Emily Kalohn. (click for larger version)
August 29, 2012 - The Oxford High School Girls Golf team is set for a successful 2012-13 season.

Coach Terry Kelley has many goals for this year's squad and has rounded up many talented players to meet them.

Beginning with an Aug. 15 warm-up scramble against Holly and Lapeer East, the OHS golf season had an early tee time this season. The first competitive match was the Lapeer Tune-up on August 19, which Kelley considered to be "an indicator of how the season is going to go." It appears the Wildcats are in good form early on.

The Lady Wildcats did better than most, finishing ninth out of the 24 teams who competed. Top scorers for OHS include Emily Kalohn with 111, Emily Cleland with 106, Riley Hayes with 96. Leading all Oxford linksters was Kyla Kurczewski who, at 83, was one of the top five golfers for the day.

Oxford has two OAA matches this season, one on August 29 at Kensington Metro Park, and the other at Bald Mountain Golf Course on September 29. Not surprisingly, Kelley places high importance on these meets. "One of our goals is to win a league championship and you can't do that without scoring well in the league meets," the coach said.

Another important outing is the Pretty in Pink tourney, held at Farmington Hills Country Club on the 17th of September. Kelley expects this tournament to "be very competitive . . . (because) the host team is one of the best in the state, so (their coach) tries to get the toughest field he can"

A challenge is in store for the Wildcats come September 24, as they travel to Davison for an invitational. Kelley likes his squad's chances here again, though he notes that Davison "is a very good team," so fans would do well not to underestimate them.

Overall, Kelley forecasts the OAA league will be "very balanced" this year. "One of the best teams in the league lost their best player through graduation," Kelley shared. But despite the parity in the league, "it's not going to be a cakewalk," he said.

"It's difficult to pick who might be the favorite in the league, but I would say we would be one of the three favorites," Kelley said with modesty.

After discussing the schedule, Kelley laid out the main goals for the Wildcats this year: 1) "Win our league championship, 2) do well in the County tournament, 3) qualify for the State tournament, 4) finish in the top half (at least) in all of our tournaments."

He is confident he can meet these goals because of the strong roster, led by senior Riley Hayes. Kelley said she is "much improved over last year . . . She's much stronger, and understands the game better." In sum, he characterized Hayes as a "determined player (who is) very scrappy and plays smart."

Another player to keep an eye on is junior Emily Cleland. She was "our number two player last year," Kelley said, but quickly added that she "is not content to be number two--she wants that number one spot."

Cleland is also "very strong and hits the ball a long way," the coach said. She "has really dedicated herself to improving over the summer, and I think that will pay off. I think you'll see it this fall," Kelley said.

Kelley also pointed out junior Kyla Kurczewski as one to watch this season. "She is definitely in the top 10, maybe the top 5 players in the County," he said. "She had a very good summer season, and won several tournaments competing against girls across the state." She is "smart, experienced, and has high standards for herself."

Another junior to track is Emily Kalohn, one of four Emily's on the team. Moving from junior Varsity to Varsity this year, Kelley said she puts "a lot of pressure on herself." He described the transitioning player as "Very conscientious. If it was just a matter of desire, she'd (already) be shooting subpar."

Moving to the underclassmen, Kelley smiled and said "the JV program is going to be fun and challenging. We have a great bunch of kids. It's like having a half a dozen sponges out there; they are so fun to work with." Coached by Gretchen Gabler, the youngsters will be pushed hard this year, but Kelley remained "optimistic about the future" of the JV season.

Kelley needs for his JV players to step up their game. The junior varsity will "have to come in and compete at a sophomore and junior level because there are no freshman teams" He acknowledged "they've got their work cut out for them," but without hesitation recognized "their attitudes are outstanding, (and) their work habits are pretty good. A lot of them are new not just to high school, but to organized sports, (so) they are just learning what a commitment that can be. They're all adapting real well."

Kelley said Oxford has always been there for the golf program, and that the support from the community "is outstanding." The coach noted that support is felt primarily "through the parents . . . they are the ones who are responsible for making the (team accomplishments) possible," Kelley said. "They're the ones who get up at 5:00 in the morning . . . get (the athletes) here every morning all summer long. They're the ones who pay 150 bucks to put their kid in a golf tournament up in Saginaw or in Grand Rapids or wherever and haul them all over hell's half-acre."

With this in mind, Kelley asks parents to continue coming out to the matches. "It is very gratifying to see parents. From a coaching standpoint it's gratifying, and it means an awful lot to the kids."

Good luck to Oxford's lady linksters in the upcoming season!

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