Ronan golf making progress on links
RONAN – Ronan golf has come a long way in the past few years. This year’s promising young team is making noise on the varsity circuit and pushing to bring a team — not just individuals — to State. That’s a feat Ronan has not experienced in quite a while, if ever, according to third year Head Coach Matt Olson.
With Olson at the helm and a team of eager hardworking underclassman, the Chiefs and Maidens have posted some top-tiered scores at recent tournaments with personal bests being beat along the way.
“That’s really exciting for us,” Olson said. “I will say this, between junior golf and coaching kids for 20 years, this has been one of my favorite teams to coach. Their attitude is awesome and they’re great kids.”
Olson said expectations are high, not only on the course but also in the classroom, and this year’s team has proven they have what it takes. This sort of team is why a coach continues to want to coach, according to Olson.
On Tuesday, despite the wind, rain and spring flurries of wet snow, Ronan’s golfers bundled up and pressed on with the Maidens battling all the way to first place with a team score of 463 at Ronan’s home-hosted tournament at Mission Mountain Golf Course.
Leading the way for the Maidens was freshman Brooklyn Olson who tied for a first place after shooting a 97 in only her third tournament of her varsity career. Olson also saw a top-five finish at the Plains tourney on Saturday with a fourth place score of 102.
Rounding out the top 10 was Kaitlyn Woirhaye, who placed fourth, a stellar finish for the third-year golfer who broke her personal best.
“She’s never broke 110 and she got a 107,” Olson said about Woirhaye’s results. “In that weather and she broke her personal best; that was exciting.”
Woirhaye also placed seventh in Plains scoring 112 after 18 holes of play.
Maiden Lauryn Hales shot a 111 on Tuesday, good for eighth place, and clipped top 10 in Plains with a tenth place score of 119.
The Maidens placed second overall at the Plains Invite with a score of 457.
On the Chiefs side, Coach Olson said youth is in their favor. As they are progressing Olson sees promise in the years to come, especially with sophomore Fisher Niemeyer and freshman Vinny Bird-Webster who hold status as the Chief’s number-one and number-two golfers on the boys’ team.
“The boys aren’t quite there yet but the future for them is ‘the sky’s the limit’,” Olson said. Olson added that he is excited to watch his young Chiefs excel with every tournament.
“As a team the progress was there; I always tell them, ‘progress not perfection,’” he said.
The Chiefs did not place any athletes in the top ten, but placed sixth overall as a team at home Tuesday.
But in Plains on Saturday, Niemeyer shined, placing second overall after shooting a 78. Bird-Webster also broke into the top 10 with an eighth place finish after scoring an 84. Overall as a team the Chiefs placed third with a score of 355.
The future is something to be taken seriously for Olson, and Ronan has hopes to send a team to State with the Maidens proving they’ve got the goods to take them all the way. The Chiefs and Maidens have sent individuals to the big show each year, but a team qualification would bring more recognition to the program which Olson believes will help his golfers see more support on the college scholarship level — a goal Olson hopes to fulfill.
“This year, I don’t want to jinx it, but it’s expected and it’s promising in that I believe our girls would make it (to State),” Olson said. “This is my third year and we have brought individuals, but I don’t think we have ever brought a team in Ronan’s history.”
Olson is quick to add with a laugh he wouldn’t bet money on that statement but from talking to the locals, as far as he knows, they are possibly looking at a Ronan golf first.
For the boys, Olson believes that they also have a shot with a State team bid with hard work and hopes to make that a reality for the Chiefs.
“This is really a dream team,” he said. “Long term goal, I don’t just want a team, I want a program. I want Ronan to be known as a golf town. We have a beautiful facility to use and there’s no reason why we can’t be. I do want to stress how much I love these kids. They’re good golfers but they are better kids and I love that. I expect it out of them and they rise to those expectations.”
The Chiefs and Maidens will hit the road in the week to come with a trip to Deer Lodge Thursday and then on to Thompson Falls on Saturday.
Team scores - Deer Lodge 343; Seeley-Swan 343; Bigfork 345; Thompson Falls 354; Loyola-Sacred Heart 362; Ronan 363; Eureka 404; Superior 414
Team scores - Seeley-Swan 324; Thompson Falls 346; Ronan 355; Loyola Sacred Heart 360; Bigfork 374; Eureka 411
Team scores - Ronan 463; Loyola-Sacred Heart 469; Eureka 554
Team scores - Loyola Sacred Heart 445; Ronan 457; Thompson Falls 481; Eureka 518