by Thomas Skeen, Cincinnati Enquirer; Photo by Tony Trimble
GREEN TWP. - It's tough to be 11-1 thanks to just one person.
While the Oak Hills High School girls' golf team has a clear-cut No. 1 player in Kelsey Wessels, without the play of those around Wessels the Lady Highlanders clearly wouldn't be where they are today.
"All the golfers have contributed at one time or another," first-year coach Mike Kehling said. "If one golfer happens to be having a bad day, another one is right there with a solid score that we count."
Sophomores Karly Egbers and Liz Henline, along with senior Emily Kehling, Mike's daughter, have all made big leaps in 2014 to heavily contribute to the team's success. Egbers moved up to the No. 2 spot on the team from No. 4 last season, improving her scoring average from 47.20 last season to 43.60 this season. Henline made the leap from junior varsity to varsity this season and has posted the third-lowest nine-hole average on the team, according to the Greater Miami Conference website.
Their improved play was much needed when the news that junior Jenna Duebber would miss most of the season due to injury. Duebber was one of four returning varsity players Kehling inherited when he took over and was the No. 3 player on varsity last season. Her injury caused some worry, but the play of first-year varsity players, Sophia Illokken, Vivien Smith, Bridget Kallmeyer and Henline took that worry away quickly.
"(The first-year players) have really stepped up and contributed to make our team solid from player one through eight," the coach said, who also attributed his team's success to spending time with John Timmers, the assistant golf professional at Western Hills Country Club . "We also set some high goals at the beginning of the year and the team has stayed focused to try to achieve them."
Some of those goals could be met this week at the GMC Championships being held Sept. 17 and 19 at Weatherwax Golf Course in Middletown. Oak Hills hasn't finished in the top three in the GMC since 2008, something Kehling knows will be difficult, but at the same time would be a huge feat for the program.
"There is very strong competition at the top of the GMC this year," the elder Kehling said, who played high school golf at Oak Hills and walked on at Xavier University. "We need to continue to play the way we have over the last few weeks as well as have all our golfers contribute to have an opportunity to finish in the top three in the tournament, which would be quite an accomplishment for our team."
While top three may be the goal for the team, Wessels - a junior - is a contender for an individual GMC title. Her scoring average of 40.70 currently ranks fourth in the conference, just 1.20 strokes behind Mason's Katie Tomassoni.
"Kelsey has an outstanding ability to score well even when she's not hitting her best shots," Kehling said. "She's been medalist in eight of our matches and she's clearly helped us get where we are today." [Read More]