Editor’s note: This is the fourth of an 11-part series profiling various spring high school sports in Cache Valley and recognizing the seniors from those teams.
A year ago, there was no stopping Ridgeline’s girls golf team in its quest for an unforgettable season.
Not only did the Riverhawks reign supreme in every region competition, they terminated Desert Hills’ run of nine straight state championships. Additionally, Ridgeline captured the 4A title in pretty convincing fashion.
The Riverhawks had another talented team returning and were favored to claim another Region 12 crown, along with Bear River. Green Canyon and Logan also welcomed back at least one all-region performer, Mountain Crest has several veterans and Sky View was primed to improve on its performance from the 2019 campaign.
Unfortunately for those athletes, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of what could have been an intriguing season barely after it started. None of the local programs competed in a tournament that counted for region points.
Here is a breakdown of each Cache County team:
Both Mustangs who placed in the top 12 in the final 2019 region standings graduated, but most of their other top performers returned.
A good mix of seniors, juniors and underclassmen had Mountain Crest hopeful it could improve on its third-place showing from a year ago.
“We were really concentrating on placing high in our region,” MC head coach April Cooper said. “We were going for second or third. We have a really strong region. Ridgeline, they are so strong ... and Bear River, they’re tough too. So, that was one of our goals was to stay above Sky View, Green Canyon and Logan because, really, everybody is pretty strong in golf up here. It’s amazing.”
Like all of the other Region 12 coaches, Cooper was brokenhearted for her team when the season came to a screeching halt, especially for her five seniors. Mountain Crest has five 12th-graders in Birkli Barrera, Rachel Briggs, Haylee Petersen, Justine Rupp and Alli Schroder.
“To watch the sadness in their eyes (was heartbreaking),” Cooper said. “Just realizing that you’ve worked hard all of this time and you don’t get that finish, it was sad to see that in their eyes. ... I saw one of my girls the other day and she said, ‘I miss it.’ We miss each other, and we just miss hanging out and being together because golf is so wonderful as far as (the camaraderie), and our whole region too. Every time I go to a tournament, I see kids from every school in our region that are wonderful and they’re fun to see and be around.”
Honoring these seniors is very important to Cooper, who gushed about Kathy Schroder — “she a fabulous booster mom. I’m pretty spoiled in that respect.” — and the job she has done organizing a senior recognition event. That event will take place in the near future on the football field, with each senior receiving her own ride around the track in the back of a truck.
Cooper was envisioning a memorable senior season from Schroder, who “has been a joy her whole three years with us.” Schroder didn’t pick up the sport until she was a sophomore, but was the team’s No. 1 golfer this spring.
Other athletes Cooper was expecting to have breakout seasons were junior Jaycee Osborne, sophomores Kiera Crosbie and Lexi Bair, and freshman Taya Sickler. All three of these athletes have phenomenal work ethics, Cooper said.
The Riverhawks graduated three of their top five golfers from their historic season, including 4A silver medalist Alexis Wilson and fellow all-state performer Mak Tenhoeve. However, the cupboard was certainly not bare for Ridgeline.
“We were definitely in the hunt for a fourth region title,” Ridgeline head coach Julie Major said. “Three of our six members of our state championship team were returning for us. When the news came out about the end of the season, we were all devastated. This team was excited to continue the golf tradition at Ridgeline. ... Many of them played a lot of golf through the summer to prep for this season. (Former head coach) Dan Roskelley and our past players have created a strong tradition of girls golf at Ridgeline and there is a lot of buy-in from the players.”
Those three returners Major is referring to are Alyssa Buist, Lucy Lyons and Eryn Hendricks. Buist finished 15th at the state tourney a year ago, while Lyons tied for the No. 25 spot and Hendricks placed 35th. Buist was seventh in the final region standings, followed immediately by Lyons.
Lyons, who is a talented tennis player, is one of two Ridgeline seniors, along with all-state basketball player Brayli Jenks.
“Lucy Lyons, one of our two seniors, is a solid golfer and a major contributor to the team for the last four years,” Major said. “She plays consistent, solid golf. She was a region medalist for the last two years. ... Lucy is our team captain and such a positive leader. She is going to be missed next year. We were excited to have Brayli Jenks back this year as well. ... She is an excellent athlete and a good golfer.”
Major is “still working on plans to honor our seniors,” but is looking forward to it.
Major raved about the work rate of Buist — “she is at the course every day” — and declared the junior “was ready to compete for the individual region title.” Major was anticipating breakout years from fellow juniors Izzy Brough and Hendricks. Natalie Quist is the Ridgeline’s other junior.
Ridgeline’s roster was also bolstered by a trio of sophomores.
“We have some young talent in Natalie Quist, Brooke Goates, Brooke Norton, and Lily Swink — underclassmen this year who are working and improving,” Major said.
The Grizzlies brought back four athletes from their varsity squad that finished fifth in the final region standings last spring. Juniors Jayla Spring and Makenzie Bishop, and sophomores Avery Anderson and Jessi Kartchner were poised to help Logan make some strides in 2020.
“These four ladies made up the heart of the team and I fully expected they would play Logan High into state this year,” Logan head coach Jason Olsen said. “We had a foreign exchange student from Denmark (and) her name is Sofie Werge. Sofie grew up with golf and has tremendous talent. I felt she would possibly have a chance of being the region champ, if not in the top three in region. Unfortunately, she was called back to Denmark because of the COVID-19 virus following our spring training camp in St. George, where she placed first in both events.”
Spring was one of the best golfers in the valley a year ago as she finished ninth in the final region standings. She shot a 93 in the opening round of the state tournament, which was arguably her best performance of the season. Olsen called Logan’s captain “a natural born leader, with a lot of talent and a passion for the game of golf.”
The Grizzlies are the lone team from the valley to not have any seniors.
“The Logan High girls and I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to those seniors in this region who lost their chance,” Olsen said. “... We are so sorry they missed their chance to play at state and walk off as seniors. Many of my girls on the LHS team were more worried about the seniors from other schools than for our own program. Our region is like a family and it’s so awesome to work with the coaches from the valley schools and from Bear River. I couldn’t ever explain how lucky I am to coach with them and to watch these ladies grow and compete in the game of golf from all our schools.”
In addition to the aforementioned competitors, Logan’s other varsity mainstay are sophomore Sofie Werge, and freshmen Vivian Worley, Aspen Wooley, Charlie Strickland and Madilyn Dahle. Olsen gushed about the potential of his four freshmen.
“All of them have the right work ethic to be champs,” he said. “We will be hearing about them in the coming years.”
A strong junior class had the Wolves envisioning a top-three position in the final region standings. Green Canyon was fourth a year ago, but tied Mountain Crest for third place at the Region 12 Tournament.
“Our girls felt that they could finish in the top half of the region and were aiming at playing two days at the state tournament,” GC head coach Terrell Baldwin said. “We have a great core of players returning from last year. They are very hard workers and understand what it takes to improve and be successful.”
The Wolves have eight juniors, led by Landree Spackman and her cousin, Sam Spackman. Landree Spackman occupied the No. 6 spot in last year’s final region standings, while Sam Spackman was 12th.
Green Canyon’s other juniors are Kenna Falslev, Emma Reed, Alivia Longhurst, Emma Hunsaker, Libby Jackson and Navy Stephens. Longhurst was a libero on Green Canyon’s state championship volleyball squad last fall.
The Wolves have four seniors in Rachel Jackman, Addison Beach, future Utah State soccer player Kylie Olsen and Katie Stonecipher.
“I love the seniors,” Baldwin said. “They are great girls. They aren’t as experienced in the game as some of the other girls, but they have great leadership qualities and the entire program would have benefited from their guidance.”
Baldwin plans on having “some type of celebration within the team” to pay homage to his four seniors.
Green Canyon’s lone sophomore is Brooke Harris, and Baldwin was expecting big things from her this season. Baldwin was also counting on breakout years from Reed and Longhurst.
A balanced Green Canyon roster is rounded out by six freshmen.
“We were in St. George playing in a three-day exhibition tournament with our other region schools when we received word that school would be canceled state-wide,” Baldwin said. “We were eating together that night and we all felt like that was going to be the end of our season. We took advantage of the opportunity to discuss being safe and keeping in touch with each other on the drive home. It was a very emotional time for all of us. These girls are a joy to be around and it has been so much fun to watch them improve as golfers and people over the last few years.”
A well-rounded Sky View team was hungry to make some significant strides in ’20. Head coach Pam Seamons felt all 14 players on the roster “were all good enough to play varsity and probably all would have lettered.”
“Expectations this year were to improve upon last year,” Seamons said. “We were one of the teams at the bottom each week and we thought this year we had a good chance of being one of the third- or fourth-place teams each week and with a goal of making it to state.”
The top four teams in the final Region 12 standings would have punched their ticket the 4A State Championships.
The Bobcats have five seniors in Emily Coombs, Halle Foss, Madelyn Jensen, Tasia Jones and Summer Redd, with Coombs, Jones and Redd filling the role of captains. Seamons was particularly pleased with the dedication Jones exhibited in the offseason and contended “I think she would have definitely had her best year.”
“The whole team really means so much to me, but the seniors I have had for four years, they definitely have a special place in my heart,” Seamons said. “My son Ryan is a senior also and is friends with all these girls, so I have known most of them for more than four years. It was a real heartbreaker when it was announced we were canceled, but I didn’t have to break it to them because they had all been following the news.”
Seamons is looking forward to giving these 12th-graders a proper send-off and is in the process of finalizing a “get together at Birch Creek out on the putting green to honor the seniors and hopefully make them feel a little special.”
Sky View’s underclassmen are McKynzie Foss, Mia Johnston, Addey Merrill, Lillian Mullen, Allie Payne, Abigayl Rich, Macy Sickler, Camri Sparrow and Lily Sparrow. Seamons is confident the future of her program is bright.
“We have a good group of underclassmen, so hopefully we will be back for some sort of normalcy next year,” she said. “... I really just love being around the girls and am really sad that we won’t get to just hang out and talk.”