It’s still early in the prep girls golf season, but Chi-Hi coach Rick Silloway has already seen what an experienced core of players can do for his team.
The Cardinals returned four regulars from last season with Camryn Schaller, Kyra Coubal, Caitlyn Swim and Courtney Fisher back this fall. They’ve led the way for what has been a successful start to the season leading into the start of Big Rivers Conference play.
Last week the Cardinals were victorious at the Superior invitational on Wednesday, finished second at the Old Abe invite at Wild Ridge Golf Course in Eau Claire on Monday and capped a busy week by taking fourth at the program’s invitational meet Thursday at Lake Wissota Golf Course.
The Cardinals begin conference play on Monday at River Falls Golf Club with five tournaments under their belts in the first two weeks and have BRC events on Monday and Tuesday before a week break.
Balance has made for a successful foundation for the Cardinals as any of those top four returners has the ability to lead the team in scoring on any given day. Silloway also credits those players for working hard in the offseason in an effort to hit the ground running this season.
“That’s where we excel,” Silloway said of the balance.
Beyond those four the battle for the final varsity spot has been fierce with a number of players already getting their chance early in the season.
“We have a lot of girls that are really new to golf,” Silloway said. “That fifth spot is wide open and we’ve put three girls in that spot already.”
The Cardinals lose Lindsey Nelson, a sectional qualifier from a season ago, to graduation.
The team will face a sharp difference beginning this week as they move into Big Rivers Conference play — shorter tournaments. The move to 9-hole league events from 18-hole tournaments means the margin of error will be smaller with fewer holes to make up for a mistake.
“In 18 holes you can make up some bad holes, but in nine holes you cannot,” Silloway said. “So you’ve got to be on for those nine holes. I’m looking forward to it.”
Eau Claire Memorial looks poised for another strong season atop the conference, but with plenty of turnover elsewhere Silloway believes his team will be a factor in the race.
This year also marks the fifth for the program since returning to varsity competition in 2013. The program has taken big steps forward since then, growing from six players on the roster in its first year to 17 for this year.
“To have 17 girls this year is amazing to me,” Silloway said. “We had 13 last year and I thought that was a good handful.”
The Cardinals will host a Big Rivers Conference event at Lake Wissota Golf Course on Thursday, Sept. 7 with the conference tournament later in the month at Troy Burne Golf Club in Hudson on Sept. 21.
If the team’s success in nonconference tournaments is any indication, the hard-working Cardinals squad will be one to keep an eye on in the coming months.
“They all come to practice and even the ones that are beginners really work hard,” Silloway said of the team.