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PHS girls golfers have sights set on new heights for program

Prescott's Autumn Schlecht is one of six seniors on the PHS girls' golf team this season.2 / 2

PRESCOTT - In 2013 the Prescott High School girls' golf team climbed to heights never reached before.

The Cardinals placed fourth in the Middle Border Conference, its best finish ever. They qualified for sectionals for just the second time in school history with a best-ever finish of second and Megan Westerberg became PHS's first-ever regional meet individual champion.

Second-year head coach Jill Jaeckel wants PHS to climb even higher this season, all the way to Madison and the state meet if possible, and she has the team to do it. The Cardinals return seven letter winners and six seniors led by Westerberg, who was second-team All-MBC last season, Sarah Hall, and returning varsity players Lauren Hintz, Autumn Schlecht, Courtney Brinker, who sat out much of last season due to injuries and McKenzie Willner, who received honorable mention All-MBC in 2013. 

"Lauren has been playing a lot of golf this summer and has really improved," Jaeckel said. "Both Autumn and Mckenzie are strong hitters and with Courtney back from injury we should have a very solid varsity team."

But as the team climbs higher, can they handle the rareified air that goes with first-time success?

"At the end of last season we all talked about going to state and making that our team goal," Jaeckel said. "That goal is still there and the girls worked hard over the summer to make that goal a reality. Now its just a question of developing consistency and mental toughness that will get us there."

Jaeckel figures if her top three golfers can shoot in the 40s and the team's No. 4 and No. 5 golfers shot in the low 50s, then the Cards should be on their way. But this has to be done for every meet and has to be done regardless if one hole is less perfect than the others.

"We can't let a bad score on a hole affect what we do for a whole meet," Jaeckel said. "The reason Megan was able to do so well last season is she's been able to learn how to shrug off the bad holes and play better the next one. Her focus is great and that has to be the same for the rest of the team. "

Juniors on the PHS squad this fall are Emily Morgan and Jennifer Leonard. Sophomores are Alexandra Magliano, Elli Anfinson, Ashley Bowes and Kaitlyn Voss. The team's freshman members are Jillian Boles and Julia Carroll.  

"It helps to have a strong varsity team," Jaeckel said. "A strong varsity squad makes the JV better because they set the example in leadership and in good play. And the example they're setting is that hard work and lots of practice is going to make them better. Practice is the best way and the only way to improve. That was true for our seniors and varsity players and it will be true for us as well."

Prescott begins its season today at the Barron Scramble. The Cards' play their first conference meet at Bristol Ridge in Somerset next Tuesday. Defending MBC champion New Richmond and Osceola are again favorites for the league title but Prescott will host the conference meet on Sept. 23 at Clifton Highlands Golf Course. 

"It's exciting to be able to host the conference meet," Jaeckel said. "We hope to get as much time as we can on the course here at Clifton Highlands to help with our knowledge of the course and press our advantage in the conference meet against what's going to be the same strong competition."