ESCANABA - It's quite clear to coach Brian Robinette that his top two girls golfers are ready to take the next step. The Escanaba girls open their season today at the Gladstone quad meet at Escanaba Country Club.
Robinette is expecting big things out of Junior Kelsey Motto and Senior Jalyn Dagenais.
"Kelsey comes in looking very good. The neat thing about the season is players kind of transform over the summer. They leave me and come back better," said Robinette. "So I'm not surprised that Kelsey comes back swinging the club well. She's very determined.
"Jalyn has made big swing changes from last year and that should push her into another category. She's not a middle of the pack type player anymore."
Robinette is also excited about the potential his No. 3, sophomore Payton Shelafoe brings. Shelafoe displayed some flashes as a freshman and her ceiling remains high.
"Payton is loaded with talent. There's a little bit of refining to do, but once we get her swinging the way I know she can, we'll see some things. She's more comfortable with the varsity sport now," Robinette said.
Also playing on the starting rotation is junior Abbey Strom.
"Abbey comes back looking like she can play the kind of golf she needs to, to hang on to that No. 4-5 spot," said Robinette.
There is competition for the final spot on the starting rotation, but this year, Robinette will have that luxury. After only having five girls on the team last year, he now has eight on the team.
"We have enough girls to work with and it's always been a struggle for Esky golf. Most teams struggle to get girls to play," Robinette said.
"I did start five occasionally last year but it puts a lot of pressure on those girls not having a sixth girl to rotate in. This year, I'll have a little more freedom to work girls into the rotation."
Robinette is pleased with the improvement and feels he has a team that can compete with anyone.
"These girls are going to challenge a lot of teams. I think we have a real solid team from top to bottom," he said. "I think we can put five girls on the course that will make other teams play to beat us."