The South Whidbey High School girls golf team will lean on four returning starters to help it maintain its status as one of the state’s top 1A programs.
The Falcons finished fourth in the state tournament last spring after winning the title in 2017 and finishing second the previous two years.
The common denominator from those winning years, however, is gone. Kolby Heggenes, who finished in the top four individually at state three times, has graduated.
Her father, Garth Heggenes, also stepped down as head coach but will assist new coach Joe Thompson.
Despite the loss of Kolby Heggenes, Thompson welcomes back plenty of talent.
Returning are the other four starters from last year’s team: seniors Emma Leggett and Alyssa Ludtke and sophomores Tori Schuller and Olivia Varga. The quartet helped the Falcons finish first in the Cascade Conference and district tournament.
Leggett finished 27th and Ludtke 57th at last year’s state championships. Leggett also earned first-team, all-league honors; Ludtke was a second-team selection.
One of eight new team members, including six freshmen, will have to step up to fill the fifth spot in the lineup, Thompson said.
Early indications had Thompson expecting only two new players but eight showed up for the opening practices, “so it has already been a successful season,” he said.
“We are eager and excited to play,” he added.
Thompson’s biggest concern is the lack of tournament experience from his newest athletes.
The goal for the season, according to Thompson, is “to improve a little bit everyday and to have fun doing it.”