MARYVILLE, Mo. — As head golf coach Brenda Ricks enters her 19th season with the Spoofhounds, she will be missing some faces that had become familiar to anyone in and around Midland Empire Conference golf.
The team graduated Laurelle Wickersham, Kylee Dougan and Kaylin Byland from a 2018 squad that was undefeated in match play, 14-0, won the conference championship, finished second in both districts and sectionals and fifth in state competition, which was held on the Sechrest 18 at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park, the team’s home course.
All three seniors from last year’s team finished in the top 10 at the MEC tournament.
Ricks knows that maintaining that level of success will be a challenge without those three performers.
“I don’t mind telling you that losing those three seniors hurt us,” Ricks said. “We have just five girls out and that makes it difficult, but we still want to win districts.”
But graduation didn’t rob the team entirely of its talent.
Returning is the team’s most decorated athlete, Emily Long, who herself will be entering her senior season.
Long was an all-state performer in 2018 and has her sights set on a top-three state finish this year.
Long is the reigning MEC champion and finished 11th individually in the state competition. She will be striving toward her fourth consecutive appearance at the state event.
“I can’t help but think that she’ll be able to maintain and exceed what she did last year …” Ricks said. “But she puts enough pressure on herself already.
“I just like to stress having fun and playing your game. I know she expects to be district champ and sectionals and state, but that doesn’t need to be her focus. She just needs to focus on the shot that she’s playing at the time.
“You can have those goals set, but if you start thinking about that instead of the shot at hand, then it makes it that much harder.”
To maintain the level of success Long has experienced in the past, she is focusing on her putting and the mental side of the game.
“Golf is 90 percent mental,” Ricks said. “She’s got the game. There’s no question about that.
“She’s a little girl, but she’s knocking the cover off the ball.”
Also returning from last year’s team are seniors Mia Haile and Hadley Mundorf and junior Lauren Padgitt. Mundorff has seen the most varsity experience among that trio of returners. She found herself among the top five Spoofhound varsity scorers multiple times during the 2018 campaign and will be looked upon to stand aside Long as a team leader.
“I’m looking for Hadley to be in that No. 2 position with the experience of playing this summer, I think she and Lauren will come on strong,” Ricks said. “If all three of those girls come on strong, that will give us some leeway.”
Long, Mundorf and Haile were all active over the summer in the St. Joseph Junior Series to keep their games sharp.
“That is just so important,” Ricks said. “To have success during the season, it’s just really important.
“Mike Habermehl (St. Joseph Country Club Pro) does such a great job with the junior series. Playing golf and competing in golf are really two different things. Getting use to that competition is key.”
With just five girls out for the team so far this year, every member will be thrust into competition and four of those scores will count toward varsity competition.
New to the team this season is sophomore Elizabelle Myers. Ricks knows that key to the success of this year’s team and crucial to its future will be to find some more underclassmen to fill in the ranks.
Ricks is aware of some promising talent in this year’s eighth grade class, but would still like to add to this season’s team.
Ricks said that anyone who is interested in joining the team can show up to practice after school at Mozingo. Or they can call her with any questions at 816-390-4355. They can also talk to athletic director Mat Beu at the high school.