By Chris Chaney
The Milford Lady Eagles golf team will be carrying the flag for girls’ golf in Clermont County once again this season and given the solid results over the past few years, coupled with the improvement of some of head coach Sandy Garrison’s players in the offseason, that Eagles flag with fly high and proudly in 2013.
“The team is doing very well,” Garrison said. “We lost two seniors and one was the No. 1 player on our team, but what has happened is over the offseason, I’ve had four girls from the junior varsity and two from my varsity play a ton of golf, take lessons and work on their games.
“They have come back and my No. 4 player from last year, (Chelsea Nagy) is 10-strokes better this year per 9 (holes).”
Garrison said Nagy’s improvement has come as a result of getting weekly lessons and improving her fundamentals, not from playing in a bunch of tournaments. Nagy’s improvement is just one example of the rising talent level of the Lady Eagles.
The No. 1 for the Lady Eagles over the first week of the season has a similar story. Megan Creager, a junior who played as the No. 3 for Milford in 2012, has really applied herself in the offseason and has stepped up into the top spot for Garrison’s squad.
“Megan plays out of (The Golf Club at) Stonelick (Hills), which is not an easy golf course,” Garrison said. “She’s been taking lessons from Ken Kaiser, (the PGA of America professional at Coldstream Country Club) and she has not been out of the 70s for 18 holes in anything we’ve played in. She’s been amazing.”
Aly Severns is another top player for Garrison and the lone senior on the squad. Severns is playing to a 45.2 average for nine holes, which ranks her fourth in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference through the first two weeks of the season.
Also playing well is sophomore Abby Swensen, one of the four junior varsity players that have stepped up in her second year at Milford to fill out the vastity roster. The second-year player is only behind Creager in stroke average, playing to a 43.9 average through the first two weeks of the season.
Rounding out the squad are Rachel Berger, Maggie Engelman and Rebecca Waits, all of whom are in the top-16 in scoring average in the league.
High school golf requires one of the quickest turnarounds in fall sports in Ohio with teams first allowed to practice together on Aug. 1 and many beginning their season within a week of the start-up date.
Taking advantage of some perfect weather over the past few weeks, the Lady Eagles have solidified themselves as one of the best teams in the area and perhaps the best all-around team in Garrison’s 14-year tenure as the girls’ head golf coach.
The Lady Eagles began their season at the Middie Invitational at Weatherwax Golf Course on Aug. 7, where the team finished in 7th place behind some of the top teams in the state, which just happen to reside in Southwestern Ohio. Creager paced the Lady Eagles, finishing fifth individually and garnering herself a spot on the All-Tournament team.
Creager and the Lady Eagles continued their spell of good form at a pair of Invitationals hosted by Fairfield and Sycamore, respectively. At the Fairfield Invitational on Aug. 12, the Lady Eagles placed seventh as a team with Creager again being named to the All-Tournament Team courtesy of her third-place finish.
At the Sycamore Invitational the following day, the Lady Eagles finished in fourth place with Creager earning her third All-Tournament Team selection in three tries as she came in fifth-place overall.
Milford sprinkled in a match against Seton High School on Aug. 8 in which the Lady Eagles defeated the Saints 169- 183.
Sizing up the competition in the ECC, the Lady Eagles got their first look at their conference foes at the ECC Shoot-Out held on Aug. 15, which Milford took home the first-place trophy, shooting a 342, nearly 60 strokes better than their nearest competitor. Creager was the medalist with a round of 75, while Abby Swensen finished second with an 86 and Aly Severens wrapped up the Milford podium sweep, coming in third place with an 88.
Most recently, Milford took down Oak Hills and Colerain in a hard-fought tri-match on Aug. 19 at Neumann Golf Course’s Red Course, 167-170 (OHHS) – 175 (CHS).
Things are looking good for the Lady Eagles and Garrison’s excitement is palpable. She said, with this team, the sky is the limit. She expects not only for the entire team to advance out of sectionals, but there is a chance that they could get through to state as a team.
The Lady Eagles’ reputation for having a presence at the district individually should hold true even if the team doesn’t advance as a group with the strong play from a number of their players.
First things first, however, Garrison is concentrating on continuing to improve her squad throughout the regular season by setting up a tough schedule that will challenge them and prepare them for the postseason.