Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review - Members of the Bainbridge High School girls varsity golf team work through driving drills at a recent practice session.

Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review - Members of the Bainbridge High School girls varsity golf team work through driving drills at a recent practice session.

Largely untested, green girls golf team drives into bellwether year | FALL SPORTS PREVIEW

This year’s going to be a little different.

Or maybe not.

But that uncertainty is itself peculiar with regard to the Bainbridge High School girls varsity golf team, long a powerhouse in the Metro League and quasi-permanent fixture in postseason play.

Last season — for the fourth time in nine years — they claimed the Metro League title, finishing in the top spot at the 2018 Metro Girls Golf Championship tournament at Jackson Park Golf Course in Seattle. It was, in fact, the second time in the last three years they snagged the title, and proved a perfectly appropriate cap to their undefeated regular season.

This year’s roster, however, is especially green and comprised almost entirely of younger students with less experience (though several top performers have returned). And, as such, longtime BHS Head Coach Ian Havill said it’s almost certainly going to be something of a rebuilding year.

“I would not say we’re the favorites this season,” the coach said.

“I would say that we have a good group, we have a good, hard-working group, good parents, a supportive environment. So, as much as I think we’re a little bit of an underdog, I do think it’s not unrealistic for us to compete for the Metro Tournament. Even with a young team, we could do it.”

And the team’s generally pretty young.

This year’s roster consists of just one senior and one junior, four sophomores and one feisty frosh, Elise Walters.

“We’ve got a strong sophomore class, they just need more time to get better,” Havill said. “Our team is pretty young so we don’t have a big depth on our team.”

Co-captains Kendall Havill (the team’s sole senior) and Anna Kozlosky (the only junior) agreed that what the newer Spartans lack in experience they make up for in enthusiasm.

“I think it’s still pretty early so we obviously have stuff to work on, and the team’s really young, but I think they’re all pretty motivated to get better so we should be improving as the season goes on,” Kendall said.

“Everybody’s working together really well and I was actually really surprised by some of the underclassmen; [they] were surprising with how well they would do some things,” Kozlosky added. “Everybody has stuff to work on, but I think everybody’s doing pretty well.”

The Spartans faced off against Holy Names in their first match of the season earlier this week, which Havill previously said would be “a good postmark” of their readiness.

Though, truthfully, he wasn’t expecting a runaway victory by any means.

“It’s kind of crunch time,” he said. “I think we’re a little bit like you’re in college and you’re studying for a test that you didn’t put enough studying in, and you have to stay up a little later and get it done.”

Another thing different about this season, and perhaps even more impactful than the youthful nature of the Spartan lineup, is a sudden switcheroo on the island squad’s home course.

Matches that traditionally took place on the front nine holes have now been relocated to the back nine. It’s a more difficult portion of the course, Havill said, and one that even the Spartans, who practice there regularly, are less familiar with.

The schedule itself is something of a good news/bad news scenario as well: the Spartans play at home a lot (all but two of their regular season matches are on Bainbridge).

“[It’s] positive in that you’re here and you don’t have to take the bus and for the kids’ studying, that’s a positive for academics,” Havill said.

“In terms of preparing for the Metro Tournament, we’re not playing those courses, one of them we don’t play at all … so between now and Oct. 15, will this group be motivated to get over there on Sunday afternoons? It is a lot of extra effort that will be required because the players are young so they haven’t played those courses, so they need to get the lay of the land over there.

“I think they’ll do it,” he added. “They are well aware of the tradition here, so the kids are interested in being on the golf team and continuing that.”

Havill knows all about the team’s tradition, as he has led the program for a decade now. This year marks the last in which he’ll have a kid of his own on the team, and he admitted he has considered leaving but has no immediate plans to step down.

“I thought about it,” he said. “When I first started I didn’t have any kids on the team and it was great, so I think I’ll most likely keep doing it. I think I’m going to keep going. I like these sophomores and I like the freshmen. I would think it will be hard to leave at any time because you’ll always have the younger kids that you don’t want to leave.”

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