Only six golfers on Washington’s roster
Last year, the Washington girls’ golf team had six seniors on its roster. This year, the Demons have six golfers total out for the team.
“When we had our first meeting, I said, ‘Welcome to the varsity. You guys are it,’” Washington head coach Leonard Kull said. “And a couple of them looked at me like, ‘Wow.’ [But now] I think they’ve accepted it.”
The Demons lost seniors Abby Threlkeld, Shannyn Paul, Emily Zehr, Bryton Lumberg, Lauren Roberts and Linsey Turner to graduation last spring. It’s been tough for Kull to adjust after losing so many experienced golfers.
“I’ve never had that many seniors that I can recall,” he said. “It was an excellent class.”
Threlkeld and Paul were in team’s lineup for four years, and their older sisters, Katie Threlkeld and Paige Paul, played for Kull before that.
“I’ll tell you what, it’s very different not having a Threlkeld or a Paul,” he said. “Because I had one eight years straight. They were stalwarts their whole careers.”
There are no Threlkelds or Pauls on the roster this year, and Washington has just one senior on the squad — Megan Reuscher. Last year as a junior, Reuscher played in just two varsity meets for the Demons. Her best score, a 48, came in a nine-hole junior varsity competition at Stone Creek Golf Course in Williamsburg on May 11.
“I’m very impressed with Megan Reuscher,” Kull said. “She came a long way last year, and I think she’s ready to step in.”
Washington’s most experienced returning golfer is junior Megan Buitendorp. She played in every one of the Demons’ competitions last season, and she took fifth place at the Southeast Conference tournament with a 96. Her career-best 18-hole score of 90 came at the Grayhound Invitational in Burlington on April 30, where she took ninth place. After playing behind several seniors last season, Buitendorp will likely be the Demons’ No. 1 golfer this spring.
“She’s definitely going to be wearing a different hat this year,” Kull said of Buitendorp. “She was pretty much supporting cast [last year].”
Kull expects Reuscher and Buitendorp to lead his young squad this year.
“The two Megans are accepting that role,” he said. “It’s not so much what they say, because neither one of them say that much, but what they do. The girls watch them and how they handle themselves.”
The rest of Washington’s squad is very inexperienced. Sarah Waite played varsity four times last season as a freshman, and her scores averaged in the upper 60s for nine holes. But Kull said that Waite has a lot of promise.
“She played some last year as a freshman, and we look for a lot of good things from her,” he said.
Junior Maddie Hora was out for the squad last year, but didn’t see much competition.
“Maddie played a couple of times at the end of the year and one thing I noticed about her is she’s a real competitor,” Kull said. “She just wants to do well. Some players don’t like the competition, but to me it seemed like she did. That’s good.”
The final two members of the team are newcomers. Deanna Peiffer is a freshman who is working hard on her game.
“She’s shown an excellent attitude and willingness to work and learn new things,” Kull said. “She’s not satisfied when things don’t go well, and she’s wanting to know what she can do to improve.”
Junior Keysha Dixon is a WACO student who will play for the Demons this season after the Warriors dropped their golf program.
“She’s out asking questions and she’s willing to do what we ask,” Kull said of Dixon.
Kull has had little time to evaluate his young golfers this spring due to muddy and unseasonably cold conditions. He said the team’s first meet, which was held today in Keokuk, could be a bit rough.
“Quite frankly, we’re not ready to begin competition, but neither is anybody else,” he said.
But Kull said that his players will only get better as they get more practices and competitions under their belts.
“We don’t quite have the experience that we’ve had, but we’ll gain that quickly enough, I’m sure,” he said. “We’ll just have to get past the first couple of meets to get our feet on the ground, and then I think we’ll be fine.”
Despite having a young and inexperienced group, Kull still believes that his team can be competitive and win competitions this season. The Demons have won the SEC title seven of the last eight years, including the last two.
“I think there’s no question that we can be competitive week in and week out,” Kull said.