SALINE SPORTS PREVIEW: Senior Leaders and Young Contributors Could Propel In SEC Standings
Led by Michigan Golf Hall of Fame member Debbie Williams-Hoak, the Saline varsity girls golf team is driving straight into another fall sports season in a tough conference and an even tougher region.
Coach Williams-Hoak is setting attainable goals.
“We always want to compete to win the championship. Pioneer and Skyline are perennial powerhouses in our conference, but I think we’re inching closer and on any given day, you never know what might happen,” said Williams-Hoak, the former Wolverine multi-sport athlete who turned herself into an LPGA-tour pro.
Getting to the state tournament as a team is also a tall order.
“You’ve got Northville - the three-time defending champs. And then teams like Plymouth and Novi are always really strong, plus the good teams from our conference. So I think the thing what we do is work on the things we need to do to lower our scores, and maybe we send individuals to the state meet,” Williams-Hoak said. “Their swings are pretty good. It’s about learning about course management when you get out there under the gun, and handling adversity, and nothing letting a seven or an eight turn into 10 or 11.”
The focus this year is on development.
“We definitely want to improve on last year, with our scoring averages, tournament performances and league play,” Williams-Hoak said. “Another important focus is teaching these young ladies how to play, how to enjoy the great game of golf, and to make the most of the student-athlete experience.”
The Hornets are led by their captains Grace Munn, Ashlee Gerber, Kitty Eliason, Emily Dumlow and Grace Munn. They are Hornets’ seniors. Of that group, Eliason is the only golfer with post-season experience.
“Kitty is a four-year player for us and she’s improved every year. She’s an important player for us,” Williams-Hoak said.
Sophomore Jordan Wickham could have a big year. She improved throughout her freshman year and was one of Saline’s top golfers at the regional.
“She’s a great gymnast and a talented multi-sport athlete. We’re looking forward to seeing what she can do,” coach Williams-Hoak said.
Another young player who might turn heads is Grace Celso, one of three freshmen out for the team this year. Celso won the team’s qualifying round, shooting 86.
“Grace is a very good player who plays a lot of tournament golf. She’s got the potential to have a very successful season,” coach Williams-Hoak said. “She’s starting what should be an exciting four years of golf for Saline High School.”
The golf season starts with refreshing normalcy. The team is starting the year with the focus on golf and team-building.
Last season was a challenge for the team.
“COVID is still in the back of your mind, and you’re wondering where we’re headed with all the news, but it’s definitely been so much better than last year at this time,” Williams-Hoak said. “Last year, all of our focus was on COVID and testing. We didn’t play in many tournaments. We couldn’t travel and do a lot of the things we’d normally do. We were just trying to navigate through it all and keep the season going, which we were, fortunately, able to do.”