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Edison girls again defy the odds

By KEVIN SHIELDS • Updated Oct 12, 2017 at 11:17 PM

MILAN — This was suppose to be a year everyone else caught up.

But even more shocking, it was nearly a year that never was for the Edison girls golf team.

A pillar of success in the Sandusky Bay Conference, and one of the squads that sets the standard for area girls golf, the Chargers couldn’t find a fourth member willing to join until the 11th hour. Then they got two.

“It was kind of worrisome for a while,” sophomore Jordan Pruitt said. “Here we just won state and we weren’t going to have a team. How would we do if it’s just three of us? And if we did make it back to state, we were going to have to compete against each other as individuals, which is not something we want to do.

“We love being a team, that’s what makes us special,” she added.

Freshman Lauren Neher and sophomore Abby Woodyard were the last-minute additions. However, they were very green compared to Edison’s core of Pruitt and seniors Jacque Butler and Zoe Grant.

“It was intimidating at first because I’m like, ‘They’re just so good, and I’m just this freshman sitting over here,’” Neher said.

One thing that made the 2016 team a force to be reckoned with was their ability to be interchangeable. Though MacKenzie Butler tended to be the No. 1 in most tournaments, it could also be any of the three returners or graduated senior Shelby Zeiter.

MacKenzie Butler and Pruitt both tied for 15th with 164 totals at last year’s Division II state tournament. Grant carded a 166, Zeiter a 167 and Jacque Butler a 175. All that together equaled the program’s first-ever state championship at 661 — four shots better than runner-up Independence.

But despite the loss of MacKenzie Butler and Zeiter, it was a typical Chargers’ year.

They went 14-0 in SBC play to defend their Bay division championship, then like clockwork, proceeded to qualify back to the Div. II state tournament for the sixth year in a row. They’ll be one of 12 teams and 12 individual qualifiers to tee it up at 9 a.m. today at Ohio State University’s Gray Course.

“A lot of people said Edison is in a rebuilding year,” said longtime Edison girls golf coach Lisa Kelble. “I just kept telling them, ‘We’ll see what happens.’”

Jacque Butler tied Huron’s Julia Hippely for medalist honors at the SBC tournament at the Fremont Country Club on Sept. 18 with a 79, but lost in a playoff. The Chargers shot 349 to win the team title.

Then only Shelby — the Lake division champions — could best Edison at sectionals as the Whippets shot 320 compared to the Chargers’ 339 — a total seven shots better than what the 2016 team had at the same Valley View Golf Course.

But it was a nail-bitter for the five Edison girls at districts as they made it into the fourth and final qualifying spot by only two strokes with a 365.

“I think it’s been a pretty confident week for us,” Jacque Butler said. “We worked on putting of course and our short game, which should help us going down there, especially with that course’s greens.

“But I love the Gray Course, I actually find it easier than our district course at Sycamore Springs, or even our sectional course,” she added. “Plus, it’s usually cold when we go down to state, but this year it’s looking like it could be 80s.”

The younger Butler led the Chargers with an 82 at the district tournament. Her low 18-hole round of the year is a 78

“I found myself playing more within myself this year, and my short game improved as well,” she said. “But I use to have a really big attitude, which held me back a lot. I’d hit a bad shot and I’d carry it on.

“So now I think, ‘it’s just one shot, it’s not going to kill me for the other 17 holes,’” Butler added. “Plus, it kind of helped not having my sister MacKenzie on the team in that aspect, because we use to be ultra competitive with each other. This year, I was more of a big sister to Lauren (Neher).”

Playing alongside a senior in dual matches was a huge help to Neher. Her lowest 18-hole round was a 93.

“When I played by myself at the beginning of the year, I didn’t have anyone to distract me from myself. I’d get mad at myself, it’s just something I just do,” Neher said. “Then when I played with Jacque, she’d always distract me and she’d tell me stuff to get my mind off of what I was doing wrong.”

Pruitt, though still young herself, has been the Chargers’ low scorer at most events.

“Just high school in general, I think now that the first year is over I’m just more comfortable in everything I’m doing,” Pruitt said. “Last year, I wanted to do good and wanted everyone to know I’m a good golfer, which gave me lots of nerves.”

This year she tied Nikki Mollohan’s nine-hole school record with a 34 at Thunderbird Hill South and broke the 18-hole record with a 75.

Grant, whose best round of the year is an 80, has continued to be a steady scorer.

“Like the other girls, I did a lot of short game work, which really helped my scores,” she said. “I shot my best round of all four years at our sectional course, and though I didn’t play my best, that was still my best score at districts, too.”

As a senior, Grant talked of how proud she was of Woodyard and Neher.

“It says a lot of those two that we were able to go unbeaten in the SBC and do a lot of the things we did,” she said. “They always seemed to come through and shoot the good scores that we needed.”

That’s a big sigh of relief to Woodyard.

“My first time out, I was just thinking, ‘Oh my gosh!,’” Woodyard said. “My score was totally different from the other girls. But I started to tell myself that it’s going to get better, I’m going to get there. And the scores went up and went down, just like everyone’s tends to do, but I was proud of the scores I had.”

Personal goals are there, but enjoying one last trip to state will be the main priority to Grant.

“We’re just going to go down there and have fun this year,” Grant said. “I think the real challenge this year was just getting back, and it was really close, but we succeeded in that.”

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