Girls golf: Maize South, Maize players prepare for state
Maize South junior Laine Evans appreciates the ease of the 15-minute drive she’ll make to Consolver Golf Course on Monday for the Class 5A girls golf tournament.
But Evans wouldn’t have balked at the 200-mile journey her friend and frequent competitor, Maize senior Taelyn Entriken, took with Eagle teammates Saturday to prepare for the Class 6A championship at Garden City’s Buffalo Dunes.
The modus operandi will be different for two of the area’s top golfers in their final fall tournaments. Evans, the Arkansas City regional medalist, will compete individually in 5A along with classmate Rachel Schremmer after both qualified for state for the third time in their careers.
Entriken can also win an individual title, but her focus is geared toward leading Maize to a team crown after the Eagles won the Hutchinson regional on Monday. Maize finished second in 6A behind Shawnee Mission East last year at Rolling Hills Country Club.
“There’s a lot of good competition in 6A,” said Entriken, her statement backed by the return of nine of the 12 teams that competed in the 2012 meet. “I want to do well individually, but I also want to do well for the team. Last year, we were so close.”
Entriken and Evans have been steady climbers as high school golfers. Entriken, the granddaughter of Wichita State men’s golf coach Grier Jones, will make her fourth state appearance on Monday. In her first, she shot 107 at Manhattan Country Club.
This year, Entriken’s resume includes a 6-under-par 64 in Wichita’s city girls junior tournament in July, and a school-record 67 in the Salina South Invitational last month.
Evans, who finished 23rd in the Class 4A tournament as a freshman and 13th in 5A last year, opened this season with first-place finishes in the Nickerson and Andover invitationals on consecutive days. She heads to state on the heels of medalist finishes at the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division II and regional meets, and hasn’t finished lower than third in a tournament this fall.
“I probably saw this coming a year ago,” Maize South coach Steve Martling said. “Her work ethic is about as good as it gets. She’s got a drive in her that makes her really want to do well. When you have that drive in girls golf, you can go quite far.”
Evans lives on Reflection Ridge Golf Club, where Entriken and her teammates practice. As Evans’ game developed, she noticed Entriken’s approach in tournaments they played together.
“Whenever I watch her, she never really gets upset about how she hits the ball,” Evans said. “I’ve tried to copy that and when I do it, it’s so much easier just to not think about a bad shot.”
Evans won the Ark City regional with an 81 in rainy, windy conditions. But she has frequently posted scores in the 70s, topping Entriken with a 74 at the Andover Invitational, while Entriken’s 74 edged Evans by a shot for second at the Hutchinson tournament.
“I think she’s improved a lot,” Entriken said of Evans. “Her mental game has gotten a lot better. I’ve noticed when something goes wrong, she recovers from it well. She’s worked really hard to get where she is right now.”
Neither Evans nor Entriken immersed themselves in golf until high school. But both have positioned themselves as medalist contenders in their respective classes on Monday. At 6A, Entriken will be joined by Maize seniors Ashley Reiswig, Lauren Copp and Camilla Linblad, and juniors Brooke Johansen and Brittani Casement.
“With the girls we had returning this year, we were a little unsure how we would fit in,” Maize coach Ben Harlow said. “As the year went on, our back end players kept improving.
“Taelyn’s role, which has been the same the last three years, has been the No. 1 golfer. She’s been the most accountable player for us.”