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Central girls feature experienced youth

Aberdeen Central’s Leah Gough watches her tee shot on the fifth hole at Moccasin Creek Country Club during the Hub City Girls Invitational last season. Gough is one of five returning varsity players for the Golden Eagles this season. Photo by John Davis taken 4/29/2021

The Aberdeen Central girls’ golf team may be young, but they do not lack for big-meet experience.

The Golden Eagles return five of their top six golfers from a year ago. While most of those returners are still very young, they are also very battle-tested.

“I’m kind of cautiously optimistic this year,” said Central coach Kim Zimmerman, “because yes we do have everybody back, except we lost one senior.”

Two of the Eagles’ top returning players are eighth-graders. Olivia Braun and Emma Dohrer were both all-conference and all-state last season. Braun tied for 18th at state, while Dohrer tied for 21st.

“I always tell people I can’t teach them what they experienced at state last year. That’s just something that they have to go through and experience,” Zimmerman said. “We talk about it, you can tell them about it, but they have to really go out and live through that, the moment of the big stage and not only that, but how they performed in that big stage was remarkable.”

Other key golfers back from last year are junior Leah Gough who was 26th at the state tourney, lone senior Hayley Wirebaugh who tied for 30th (she is currently out with an injury), and sophomore Morgan Jones.

The Eagles will be looking to see who rounds out the team this spring.

“There’s some questions that are already kind of answered,” Zimmerman said, “but there’s some (positions) that remain to be filled, yet.”

While Central returns the bulk of its squad that finished third at state, other teams also have many top returning players.

So how will Zimmerman measure success this spring?

“Improvement, just simply improvement,” Zimmerman said. “I told them the other day, that’s my goal. I don’t care where you’re at right now, but by the end of the year we want to improve. Everybody from top to bottom.”

The Eagles will start their season Monday in a tournament at Harrisburg. The weather has prevented the team from getting out much so far this spring. Practices have focused mainly on course management and studying the rule book.

While the team is experienced, the girls haven’t walked any courses since last year.

“The challenge for me is to get them in golf shape,” Zimmerman said. “I can work on the mental part of it inside, but I have to get them physically ready to go out and walk and play 18 holes.”

Zimmerman is also curious to see where his players’ games are currently at, noting he is basing everything off of last season so far.

“I’m excited to see what some of those girls can do and I’m excited to see with the ones that we have coming back where they’re at in their game,” he said. “Are they about the same, are they better, or just how they’ve progressed a little bit.”

Central has about 20 girls out for the sport this spring, and while the team tends to be on the younger side, as the Eagles showed last season they are capable of solid rounds of golf.

Zimmerman is looking forward to seeing how things will shake out this season with a solid nucleus returning, the potential that those girls possess, and what some of the new girls will add to the mix.

“There’s a lot of different things to get excited about with this golf team,” Zimmerman said. “I really think there is.”

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