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EHS girls linksters keep building up

Sophie Derleth is one of returning letter winner and starters for the Ellsworth High School girls golf team.2 / 2

Regardless of how rough it was a times on the scorecard, they all pledged to come back.

The Ellsworth High School girls' golf program started from point zero at this time last fall. The golfing experience team members Madelyn Nielsen, Kacie Lansing, Shanelle Borth, Megan Taplin and Sophie Derleth ranged from negligible to none. They were the only five golfers the Panther program and all new head coach Carson Huppert had to compete with in one of the toughest Division 2 girls golfing conferences in the state, the Middle Border.

In spite this, the Panthers didn't finish in last place and the time they had together brought a pledge for continued building of the program going into 2014.

"They made the season fun, that was our success," Huppert said. "They became close friends and kept in contact and started playing golf on their own."

Thus these five starters and returning letter winners are back for the 2014 season, which began this past week. The comparison in play from a year ago at this time is no comparison.

"There's a big difference in overall play and skills as you would expect," Huppert said. "You have a whole's season's worth of experience plus the time they put in over the summer. They've all improved a ton in various parts of the game. Madelyn (Nielsen) last year was only just two strokes away from qualifying for sectionals individually and she took lessons over the summer. She has good chance of building on how she played a year ago, as do all our golfers."

The Panthers also added to the team's numbers with juniors Natalie Feuerhelm and Madeline Bayer along with freshman Rebecca Mewes. Feuerhelm golfed with EHS as a freshman. 

"Having Natalie back really helps us," Huppert said. "She is an experienced golfer and with more kids it allows those needing more golf development to do so on the JV level where they can go at their own pace."

As part of the building process, Huppert believes floors such as a top five finish in the Middle Border Conference and being one of the team qualifiers for the sectional tournament are achieveable.

"I think those would be good accomplishments," Huppert said. "Osceola, New Richmond, Prescott and Somerset are considered the top four teams in the conference and I think we can fit in right with them. We expect to be better than last year but we're still a pretty young squad compared to the teams we're golfing against."

Indeed, there are no seniors on the team and of the returnees, Derleth, Taplin, Borth and Lansing are all sophomores while Nielsen is a junior.

"We want to keep improving and take the next step up in our program," Huppert said.

Ellsworth's next meet is on Tuesday at Somerset.