Kansas.com

Youth must fill roles for Andover

Published August 27 at 6:45 a.m. | Last updated August 27 at 8:44 a.m.

Andover High’s girls golf team capped a successful season in 2011 with a third-place finish at the Class 5A state tournament in Hays.

Not a bad start for Ryan Harshaw, who last year added the girls’ duties to coaching the Trojans’ boys squad for the past 12 seasons.

But this year, Andover faces some fresh challenges, none the least of which is replacing seniors Audrey Meisch and Jessica Morrison. All they did was finish second and 10th, respectively, at the state tournament, and Meisch is on a golf scholarship at Oklahoma Christian University.

Replacing their scoring would seem to be asking a lot, but the Trojans do return four players with state tournament experience.

“Any time you are able to play in the state tournament, that gives the girls more confidence (for the next season),” Harshaw said. “We’ll be competitive.”

And having had that experience, the Trojans are ready to follow Harshaw’s directions.

“Practice is going well,” Harshaw said. “The girls are buying into what we want on the drills and are very coachable.”

Even though Andover has no seniors on its team, juniors Maddie Routhier and Ashley Teinert said they’re ready to assume the leadership roles left by Meisch and Morrison.

Routhier said she’s ready to lead.

“We lost two really strong golfers in Audrey and Jessica,” Routhier said. “We’re going to have to step up this year, and I’m ready to do that.

“It’ll be a lot different this year, for sure.”

Harshaw said he will look to the junior duo to lead.

“There are no senior leaders on the team, so they’re going to have to help each other and push each other,” he said.

Both Routhier and Teinert said they kept their games in shape over the summer.

“I’m focused more on golf this year,” said Routhier, who also plays basketball.

Teinert said she’s ready for the season to begin.

“We’re really excited for it,” she said. “I’ve been practicing a lot and trying to work on my weaknesses in my game and my strengths.”

Teinert said her game benefited last year from watching the seniors. In fact, Teinert and Routhier were eighth and 12th, respectively, at their regional.

Meisch’s younger sister, Hayley, is a sophomore. Hayley was 10th at the regional and finished 27th at state. Paige Schlitter, also a sophomore, played at state, but her score was not part of the Trojans’ team total.