WHS girls golf team are showing great promise in inaugural season

Payton Ginter lines up for a putt at the Wellington Invitational Monday (photo by Steve Sturgis).

by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — Quick. When was the last time a high school sport program was introduced in Wellington before this year’s girls golf team?

Try 1994. That was the year when the WHS girls softball program started in existence.

For years, there has been several girls who have participated in the boys program in the spring, but there wasn’t enough to start the program in earnest. That changed last fall when the school board approved the start of the high school girls golf program.

Wellington has five girls going out, four freshman and one sophomore. And on Monday, they hosted their first home meet. The Lady Dukes finished with a 261. Winfield won the tournament with a 196.

Payton Ginter, a freshman and daughter of one of the coaches James Ginter, finished with a 54 which was good enough for seventh place individually.

Other Wellington girls golfer scores were: Lauren Bales 69, Alisa Walters 66, and Taylor Heasty 72.

Members of the 2017 Wellington golf team. (Click on image for larger version).

“It is really exciting,” said Vanessa Sawyer, co-head coach. “This group is so young, and hopefully they will continue to improve.”

Although the numbers were a little lower than what they originally expected, the hope is the middle school program, which was implemented a couple years prior, will bring more girls into the fold in the high school ranks.

Wellington has been to three tournaments. Other than the home meet yesterday, there were tournaments in Augusta and Winfield.

“The girls were in tears when we went up for our first tournament in Augusta because they didn’t think they could play with juniors and senior,” Sawyer said. “But they found out quickly they could hang and they were just as good.”

Lauren Bales at Wellington home meet.

It will take a while for the varsity girls to establish themselves. They are competing against programs that have 15 to 20 girls. But the start is promising.

“Our middle school is going well and the junior golf program is getting better all the time,” Sawyer said. “So if these girls work during the spring, I can see things getting much, much better.”

The coaching to players 5:2 ratio has been a huge plus. Sawyer and Ginter can focus their individual attention in a one-on-one setting.

They also have been getting tremendous support from the veterans. Bobby Wilson, a golf enthusiast, has been helping the girls with tutorials.

And then there is Bob DeJarnett, the girls golf program’s No. 1 fan. He travels to the away meets and will go the various fairways seeing how each girl is doing and reporting back to the coaches.

“It is exciting to see this program come to fruition,” Ginter said. “It’s something we can really build on.”

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