It’s a rarity in high school sports for a coach to return an identical team from the previous season, but Prairie City-Monroe girls golf coach Val Edwards is enjoying just that this season.
Returning all of her top six golfers that finished one spot shy of state last season, Edwards is hoping this will be the year the experienced Mustangs get over the hump and send their seniors out with a trip to the big show.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Edwards said. “I’ve got a good team of leaders this year and we did really well last year, so this year we’re hoping to reach our goal of making it to state.”
The Mustangs return a lineup that set both the school nine and 18-hole records last season. Maddie Peters and Rachel Phifer return as the team’s top two players, while Hannah Hugen takes the No. 3 spot and Cassidy and Kelsey Van Veen return to the fourth and fifth spots, respectively.
After seeing some on-and-off action last year, Taylor Phifer is expected to hold down the No. 6 spot until senior Kaitlyn Wilkie is fully recovered from a knee injury she suffered during basketball season. Makenna Van Veen is also on the fringe to see the top six, but if this year’s squad is anything like last year’s, the top six will shuffle quite a bit.
“One thing about the girls is if one was struggling, someone else would have a better day,” Edwards said. “I could also count on someone picking it up if one of the top girls had some issues.”
The one big challenge facing PCM this season is the jump to Class 3A since the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union added a fifth class. This will throw the Mustangs into a new area of competition after building up something of a comfort level in Class 2A.
“I think they have a lot of that drive, but they’re also a little nervous,” Edwards said. “We don’t know what we’re looking at for districts yet, but there could be a lot of new teams there we don’t know.”
Still, the goals remain high for the Mustangs this year, including the hope of repeating as Heart of Iowa Conference champions. PCM won the title back from Nevada last season, but Edwards expects a tough fight between the two this year.
With five seniors on the team, Edwards and the Mustangs realize that it could be a while before they can enjoy this level of competition on the course. Therefore, don’t be surprised if PCM opens its season strong much like it did last year.
“I think they’re all pretty driven this year,” Edwards said. “They know it’s their last hurrah to get to that state level and accomplish all the other things we want to do.”
Weather pending, the Mustangs will begin their season today against Eddyville-Blakesburg and Des Moines Christian at Gateway Recreation in Monroe at 4 p.m.