WLHS girls' team brings back four experienced golfers

Coach hopes to build around veterans


With four girls having varsity experience, the West Liberty High School girls golf team is hoping to contend in the River Valley South Conference this season for coach James Laughlin.

The veteran coach brings back four returning letter winners from his 2019 team after not playing last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Three senior letter winners including Emily Bierman, Lindsey Laughlin and Madison Kleier will be on the links this year along with junior Aly Harned.

Sprinkle in the talents of senior Jessica Bautista, junior Cassandra Aleman and freshmen Nellie Stagg and Sammy Goodale and the Comets may be looking to challenge Tipton and Durant, their toughest competitors from two years ago.

The team opens their season Monday, March 29, at West Branch beginning at 4 p.m. before going to a tournament in Anamosa on Tuesday, April 6 that begins at 9 a.m.

The first home meet takes place against Iowa City Regina on April 12 at the West Liberty Golf & Country Club beginning at 4 p.m.

Laughlin, who is assisted by Kayla Morrison and Paula Valdes, says it will be important the team comes out and plays well early in the season. “A couple of the girls played quite a bit last summer but, as always when you take the winter off, you have to find the swing again and it is such a short season to do that,” the coach said. “We just need to continue to improve each day and be playing our best golf in the middle of May.”

The team’s goals include contending for the conference title while also playing well in Regional competition to give players and the team a chance to qualify for State.

The coach said his four varsity golfers with experience “all have a chance to score really low this year,” hoping to improve on their scores from previous seasons.

He said depth and numbers will be an issue with just eight members on the team, dominated by upper classmen. “We need to get some more girls out in the lower grades to continue to improve,” Laughlin said.

The Comets follow their first three meets with a trip to Tipton on April 19 beginning at 4 p.m. before going to the Hawk Invite in Kalona on April 22 beginning at 12:30 p.m. Another dual with visiting Durant will take place on April 26 at 4 p.m. before a Durant/Wilton hosted tournament at Wahkonsa on April 20 beginning at noon.

The team goes to Mid-Prairie on May 3 before battling in the River Valley Conference meet in Muscatine beginning at 9 a.m. on May 5. The Tipton Invite follows on May 7 before the Comets host Wilton on May 16, a day before Regionals on May 17.