ESCANABA - Sophomore Kelsey Motto and junior Jalyn Dagenais have a mission this year.
For the Escanaba girls golfing tandem, it begins on the golf course, but hopefully ends with a renewed interest in the sport among Esky students.
"Kelsey and Jalyn are both real driven to stir up interest in high school girl's golf," said coach Brian Robinette. "It's a sport that kids would like to maybe play, but might not want to make the commitment - and it is a commitment. They're well known girls that play a variety of sports and they're helping send the message that you don't need to be a tremendous golfer to check out the golf program here."
Motto and Dagenais are the top players on a young team that includes no seniors in the top five.
"Kelsey and Jalyn played every match last year and both have improved," said Robinette. "I foresee them to put up the best scores of their careers.
"We have a small group but they're awesome. They all have a good attitude and they don't miss practice, ever."
Rounding out the top three is freshman Payton Shelafoe, who has raised some early eyebrows.
"Payton walked in as a freshman and she is going to have a great career. She came in as a solid varsity golfer and has a competitive nature, which helps," said Robinette.
A trio of sophomores with no experience have been an early surprise as well. Amanda Bink, Paige Rau and Abbey Strom have all made giant leaps since joining the team, surpassing their coach's expectations.
"These three girls are improving at a tremendous rate right now. If they keep improving at this pace, I'll be taking them to tournaments soon. When they came in, I had to teach them how to grip a golf club. They're naturals and they're athletic girls," he said.
"I like having a surprise of talent that comes in. You can do a lot with younger athletes and with hard work you might find yourself in the top five. We could really be competitive at the girls level."
The team opens play Friday at the Gladstone Invitational.
April 27 - at Gladstone Invitational; April 30 - at Gladstone quad
May 1 - at Manistique Invitational; May 3 - Escanaba Quad; May 8 - Negaunee Kiwanis Invitational; May 10 - NMB&T Escanaba Invitational; May 14 - Menominee Golf Invitational; May 15 - Negaunee Range Invitational; May 18 - Munising Invitational; May 24 - GNC at Menominee; May 31 - U.P. Finals at Wawonowin.