Golf season is among us, and the Prosper High School golf program is preparing for another successful season out on the green. The boys’ team will kick off their year at the Bart Granger Memorial Tournament at Pecan Valley Golf Course in Fort Worth, and the girls will head out to Harbor Lakes Golf Club for the Lady Pirate Classic hosted by Granbury High School.
Both teams have seen great success in previous years. Last season, the Lady Eagles finished second in District 14-5A and 10th at Regionals. The boys won their third consecutive district title in the spring, finishing their season with a soxth place finish in the region. Former golfer Graham Hutchinson, who is now a freshman golfer at Elon University in North Carolina, had a tremendous senior career with the Eagles, finishing second at Regionals and third at the State tournament in Austin, Texas.
Looking ahead to the 2017-2018 campaign, the Prosper golf program will return several players to the roster.
On the girls’ side, Coach Elizabeth Hamilton plans to return four players from last season: seniors Cassidy McAlpine, Carlee Tinsley and Caroline Weatherly and sophomore Emily Nystrom. Both McAlpine and Nystrom recorded several top three finishes as individuals last year. Nystrom, who was the only freshman on the team last season, placed fifth at District, and was named to the First-Team All-District. Other returners earned district honors, including Weatherly who finished ninth at District and was named to the second-team All-District.
Hamilton looks to add more depth to her already strong roster with the addition of freshman Haili Moore. Moore has been playing individually for several years, and competed in the Don Milkus Invitational this summer, where she shot a 71 to win the tournament. She also won the AJGA Valero Junior Texas Open, shooting another 71. Three other student athletes — juniors Maddy Huxford, Sierra Topper and Victoria Buelow, an exchange student from Denmark — will also look to find a way on the varsity roster this year.
“We’ve just got better competition in practice, great team chemistry and much better scoring potential through all levels of the program,” said Hamilton about the newcomers. Additionally, she is excited to see how the new members can make an impact in the long run.
“It’s a great mix of talent and enthusiasm, and they are all committed to getting better every day and supporting one another. We’re going to be good enough to send two full teams to district, which is a great step for the program,” Hamilton added.
The boys will have two varsity teams again this season, and Hamilton said the opportunity to golf on Varsity I was separated by fractions of a stroke. Rounding out the top five are seniors Cole Lantz and Josh Knight, juniors Marco Punzo and Jacob Strong and sophomore Connor Keene. Lantz and Punzo bring a lot of experience to the team as both golfers have been a member of the varsity team for their entire high school careers. Both also were named to the First-Team All-District, and placed in the District tournament (Lantz third, Punzo fifth).
The Varsity II team will play at Oakmont on Monday, Sept. 25. Juniors Drew Thompson, Mathew King and Cameron Merryman and sophomores Jackson Thies and Cooper Hicks round out the squad.
As the season gets underway, both coaches have high expectations for the program. Head boys’ coach Cody Vanderford said he is ready to see what his new team can bring to the table this season, especially given the absence of Graham Hutchinson.
“Our expectations for this weekend are to evaluate our first group and see how they do in a team tournament environment,” Vanderford said. “We will miss Graham’s presence and leadership, but I feel that Cole Lantz is ready to step into that role, with junior Marco Punzo right on his heels.”
The Bart Granger Tournament is the largest tournament in the state, with over fifty teams competing for a spot in the rankings. Last year, Prosper competed in the same tournament, and was the highest finishing 5A team. Vanderford said he hoped to do the same this year and is looking forward to getting the season started on a high note.
“Our goals is to be in Austin in May, and this is just the beginning to working hard to make that happen.”