Cathedral High School girls golf moved forward in 2019.
“Surprisingly so,” Eric Bruns said.
Bruns, in his second season as the Irish’s girls golf coach, said it was the best possible surprise – with a young, inexperienced team performing beyond preseason expectations to set a strong tone that should carry the program into the future.
“The girls were all pleased with how everything turned out,” Bruns said.
Natalie Schorr was the Irish’s lone returning senior, but Cathedral improved throughout the season and advanced through the sectional round for a 16th consecutive season.
The Irish did so with comparatively little experience, with six of the nine golfers from the 2018 team graduating as seniors. In their place, Bruns said 17 golfers participated in 2019 – including a solid core of sophomores and freshmen who should form the core of the team in future seasons.
“We definitely needed to get the numbers back up to build some depth,” Bruns said. “Of that number (17), most of them were in the sophomore and freshman classes. They just need to keep practicing and developing, but they all have the opportunity to help us down the line.”
Schorr led the Irish much of the season, shooting an 83 to finish fourth individually at the sectional tournament at Maple Creek Golf Club on September 20. That keyed a second-place team finish at the sectional that advanced the Irish to the regional tournament.
Bruns called Schorr’s leadership key to the Irish’s success in 2019.
“Natalie was the one true senior who had been through this a lot,” Bruns said. “She was a great leader by example. She never let anything bother her too much. She never got worked up really about anything, so it set kind of a great example that way.”
Junior Caroline Buhner shot a 97 at the sectional, with senior Emily Veigel also shooting 97 followed by senior Bella Bunting shooting 100 and sophomore Olivia Schilder shooting 109.
Bruns said Veigel’s experience as a softball player and Bunting’s experience in swimming also helped the Irish in the season’s bigger meets.
“It wasn’t overwhelming for them to do this,” Bruns said.
Schorr shot an 82 at the regional tournament at Edgewood on September 28, with Buhner and Veigel shooting 94, Bunting shooting 98 and Schilder shooting 107. The Irish’s team score of 368 was good for 11th at the regional.
Bruns said the Irish’s scores in the postseason were mostly lower than the previous season, with a strong postseason field preventing the team from repeating as sectional champions or advancing to the state meet.
“To finish second in the sectional as we did was fantastic, to be able to advance to the regional,” he said.
While the Irish’s top five in ’19 featured three seniors, Bruns said much of the rest of the roster was keyed by younger players. That group included sophomores Hadley Sams and Savannah Leaman, both of whom Bruns said had stretches during the season in which they played very well. Junior Allie Morton played in the fourth or fifth position much of the season until dealing with medical issues, and Bruns said freshman Allison Haug showed the sort of practice habits and work ethic “that should bode well for her in the future.”
Bruns said the result was a team that not only prepared for the future, but finished the season with a seven-match winning streak in dual/triangular matches late in the season.
“Several of the girls, particularly those who were competing regularly on varsity, had separate occasions of posting a really good score,” Bruns said. “It was, ‘All right, if we can put this together where we end up having four of those five play well at the same time, we have a chance to really do some things.’ In the second half of the season, that’s exactly what happened. Everybody kind of got into a groove and started playing well and went on a nice long streak.”
That stretch ended with a solid performance in a difficult section of the postseason, a performance that Bruns said ended the season on a fittingly strong note.
“Knowing the depth and quality of the talent of programs at other schools, we were going to have a tough time advancing beyond our regional,” he said. “We had played a handful [of teams in the regional] and we didn’t know if we were going to be able to compete getting out. But that didn’t mean we couldn’t have a successful year, which we definitely did.
“Going into this year, I had no idea where we were going to finish, what we were going to do because of having to fill so many spots from what was our true varsity roster last year. In every kind of shape and form, this group would be viewed as a success.”