Bus rides and putting greens: Charger golf tees off new season
The team holds the trophy aloft on the 18th green after winning the 4A state championship a year ago. (Debbie Connell/Corner Canyon girls golf)
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Once the winter snows had finally cleared, the Corner Canyon girls golf team was back where they belong, on the links.
After winning the first Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA)–sanctioned state championship in school history a year ago by 33 points, the defending champs came into the season with a new addition — a target on their backs.
“I know we do have some competition, but we have a really solid group of girls and I hope to take state again. That would be freaking awesome,” said sophomore Jamie Connell, who finished fifth at the 2016 4A state tournament.
Though expectations have raised, head coach Ryan Kartchner said it’s great to be a part of every other team’s goals.
“Everybody wants to beat Corner Canyon or compete with us,” Kartchner said. “Other teams got better so we’re gonna have to stay on top of our games and focus and not just expect to win all the tournaments. … We’re going to have to earn it again.”
The Chargers return the core of their group from a year ago, having graduated only one senior. Their top four scorers (three juniors, one sophomore) are all back, with three of them having placed in the top eight of the state tournament.
“It gives us motivation to beat our scores last year and do it again because it wouldn’t be the first time, it would be the second time so you gotta go for a two-peat,” said junior Cristiana Ciasca.
Ciasca had one of the more memorable moments from a year ago when she dropped a hole in one during the first round of the state tournament.
“That was great,” Ciasca recalled, smiling. “It was awesome to be there and get that experience of getting a hole in one (at state).” It was appropriate considering Ciasca’s penchant for longer hitting that her wedge shots reached the greens.
For Corner Canyon to mount another successful title challenge, team camaraderie will continue to be crucial, Kartchner said.
Connell said even though the sport is individual, they need each other to win, whether that’s through competition or cheering each other on.
“We do get super competitive, but I think it’s a good thing because we’re trying to beat each other, which only makes us better as a team,” she said.
Team bonding has become natural off the golf course with team dinners and their notorious bus rides.
“They’re way fun,” Ciasca said of the bus rides that include speakers, dancing and bagels. “We just sing and laugh and it gets pretty loud.”
Connell said they rap along to old-school hip hop and dance in aisles, a skill she is known for.
“The bus driver probably gets really annoyed with us, like really annoyed with us,” she said.
That unity off the course has helped elevate the team, Kartchner said.
“There’s so much camaraderie and so much cheering for each other … they want to see each other do really well. That’s a winning formula for sure,” he said.
With girls golf growing every year in Utah, Kartchner — head pro at Hidden Valley Country Club — hopes that continues at Corner Canyon too.
A year ago the team started the season with six golfers in the program; 15 showed up to tryouts this year. “This is what it looks like when you win state,” Kartchner said.
He hopes to see a dynasty form at the Draper school.
“There’s no reason to think that for two more years we’re not going to be at least a competitor in the state championship,” Kartchner said. “Because we have the same team with us winning like we did last year, I expect us to be good for a little while.”