Coach: Ty Ray, fifth season.
2019: Sandusky Bay Conference River Division Tournament champion; SBC River Division runner-up overall; fourth at sectional.
Returning letterwinners: Seniors Colt Dible, Marshall Minich. Juniors Kyleigh Dull, Jayden Bonnell, Connor Hill. Sophomore Ethan Longoria.
Others: Junior Ethan Klotz. Sophomore Trevor Mathias. Freshmen Carson Hill, Cole Roush, Alex Holman, Chris Jurovcik.
Outlook: Last year’s success has led to greater expectations.
Dull tied for the individual girls Division II state title last year — her family’s second such championship after her sister, Makayla, won the crown in 2013 — and Longoria ended just four strokes away from a boys Division III state berth while the team won the SBC River Division Tournament title, took second in the SBC River Division’s overall standings and ended fourth at the sectional, just five strokes away from a district berth.
Last week, the team ended second and third in invitationals, so Lakota has gotten into the groove early.
Ray expects that to continue.
“This year and next year, I have pretty high expectations for the team. We have a lot of returners. We have six people that all lettered. We didn’t lose anybody from last year, we had zero seniors last year,” he said.
“My expectations for the team this year were to obviously compete for the league title again and be in the top one or two teams in the league, and kind of do what we did last year and repeat the success that we had last year, but build upon it and see if we can go to that next step,” he said.
One of those next steps would be to reach district as a team. However, Lakota’s student population numbers have bumped the Raiders up to Division II in golf this year.
Ray said that will change how the Raiders approach the postseason.
“We’ve even kidded with Kyleigh with playing the boys come sectional time — since she’s already won it as a girl, switch over to the boys side, try to help us get to the next level,” Ray said with a laugh.
“I think we moved up to Division II this year (in boys). That’s a whole other ballgame on sectionals and tournament play,” he said. “If we were Division III, I think our focus would be to get to districts and maybe even have that chance to advance to state if things fall our way, but with Division II we have to kind of adjust that a little bit and see what we can do and see what kind of individual success we can maybe have.”
Ray said he’s seen improvement already, especially when it comes to consistency.
“Last year we would have some good scores and then we would have some bad scores, and even within a round we would have really good scores and really bad scores … . This year, what I’ve seen so far is, overall just a consistency from one hole to the next and shot to shot,” he said. “The kids just physically are more mature and a little bit stronger and so are able to make shots they weren’t able to make in past years.”
And then there’s Dull.
She brings summer and high school tournament experience, low scores, an ability to shine in pressure situations and an ability to intimidate opposing players and teams.
“Our kids are used to her just playing the good scores and having the good rounds,” Ray said, “but when we step onto the tee and other kids that aren’t used to being around her and seeing her type of game and how far she can hit it and how good of a player she is, it’s intimidating to the other teams a little bit.”