Girls golf team counting on veterans in rebuilding season

Courtesy Photo The 2018 Alpena High girls golf team includes: front row: Kennedy Ellis, Brynna Smith, Gianna Bolda, and Gwen Kollien; back row: Mia Carlson, Kate Kurowski, Madison Timmreck, Cassie Stanton, Mykenize Klimczak and Brylie Carsten.

The goal for the Alpena High girls golf team this season is a simple one: get better with every meet.

The Wildcats are admittedly in a bit of a rebuilding year, but new coach Jeannie Ellis is counting on her veteran golfers to lead the way in 2018.

“I think we’re right about where we thought we’d be,” Ellis said. “I’ve got three returners and I’m looking for them to pull forward quite a bit and post low scores.”

Brynna Smith is Alpena’s only returning senior and has been lauded by Ellis for her competitiveness. Ellis has posted some of Alpena’s lowest scores this season, including a 107 at Alpena’s annual Battle on the Bay Tournament last week and a 103 at the Traverse City West Invitational.

“She brings a wealth of experience in golf. She’s got that edge and the competitive experience,” Ellis said. “She’s been competitive for years and she knows how to compete without losing focus.”

Also returning for the Wildcats is sophomore Kennedy Ellis. Despite not picking up a club until last June, Ellis has come a long away in her development. She was part of Alpena’s varsity group last season and recorded a 113 at the Big North Championships and a 118 at regionals. Ellis spent the summer competing in the elite division of the Northern Michigan Tour through the Traverse City Junior Golf Association. That extra experience has paid off this year as Ellis posted a 98 during an invite in Grayling and a 99 in Traverse City.

“She’s got a massive dedication and love of the sport,” coach Ellis said. “What she’s been able to do is amazing.”

Sophomore Gwen Kollien is Alpena’s other returning golfer and is praised by coach Ellis for her calm demeanor.

Freshman Gianna Bolda rounds out Alpena’s varsity quartet and has been holding her own as a golfer who’s new to the sport. Her scores have steadily improved and coach Ellis said Bolda is finding her niche on the team.

Since its revival in 2015, the girls golf program has made steady progress. After the departure of former coach Mike Nunneley, Ellis took over as coach to keep the program going. Since 2015, Alpena has sent two golfers to college and had a regional champion.

With a lot of young, eager golfers on the team, Ellis is hopeful that in the next few years Alpena can continue to be competitive against their rivals in the Big North Conference.