XENIA — A bit of history was made Sept. 5 on the back nine holes of WGC Golf Course: a Xenia High School girls golf team hosted a dual match.
According to XHS girls coach Kent Anderson, it’s believed that Wednesday’s 185-236 loss to visiting Alter marks the first time since 2011 that Xenia had hosted a girls golf match. There was a Buccaneers girls golf team in 2012, but it’s believed that they did not host a match.
This is the first year since 2012 that Xenia High has fielded a girls team.
Anderson motioned over to a smiling sophomore, Grace Bond, who had just finished her round of golf with freshman teammate Brynna Mardis.
“Last season Grace played for us, but as a member of the boys team,” Anderson said. “That meant that she was hitting from the boys’ tees, a bit farther back. We had enough interest among the girls throughout the high school, and they wanted to form a golf team for this year, so we did it. It’s been a lot of fun, and I can see them improving. In the month or so that we’ve been together, I can see great improvement in them.”
Bond said the transition from playing on the boys team last season to being part of the girls team this fall has been very enjoyable.
“I’m definitely enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would,” Bond said. “I miss golfing with the guys, it was kinda weird leaving that, but I’ve had a lot of fun. … and the red tees are waaay nicer than the boys’ tees.”
The team lost its top golfer, Olivia Wagner, just the day before. The 2017 district qualifier had shoulder surgery with Cincinnati Reds doctor Timothy Kremchek to repair a fastpitch softball injury and is gone for the season. That’s pushed Mardis and Bond up to the nos. 1 and 2 spots in the Xenia lineup respectively.
“I think we all know that we have to step up. It will be hard to play without Olivia, though. She’s awesome!” Bond said.
“Yeah, we know that we’ll be playing against some really good competition. We’re just out here working on our games and having fun,” added Mardis.
Mardis led the Buccaneers with a round of 48, second only to Alter medalist Maggie Pascual who finished with a 44. Other scores for Xenia were turned in by Bond (56), Stacie Baxley (a career-best 63), Gillian Miller (69) and Eliana Berryman (72).
“The goal is for us just to get better,” Mardis explained. “(With Wagner sidelined), now there’s only two players on the team who have any golfing experience before this season. To see the other girls on the team improving is good to see, and Grace and I are seeing improvement in ourselves as well.”
Alter coach Katie Ellis was impressed with how the youthful Bucs played.
“We have an advantage of our Catholic Youth Organization that teaches kids how to golf at a young age. Because of that, we have 16 girls on our team. That’s enough for us to have a junior varsity and a varsity program,” Ellis said. “The more Xenia plays the game, the better they will do. They’re already playing the game better than I had expected of them, for such a young team. They did a nice job today.”
Anderson said the team had improved its score by 36 strokes from when it last played a match.
The veteran boys basketball coach knows all too well that the girls golf team is a fledgling program, and so he’s being very patient with his golfers.
“My emphasis right now is on us working to get better with each time out, learning the fundamentals and the rules, but most of all, having fun,” he said. “The scores are coming down, and that’s good. But the most important thing right now is that we’re out here having fun.”
Unless rain spoils things, more fun could be had starting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 6. The girls team will host West Carrollton at WGC then. The Xenia boys golf team also has a home match at WGC on Thursday. They host Fairborn at 4 p.m.