Skyline girls golf makes history with first-ever team state titleJun 02, 2023 12:48PM ● By Daniel Olsen
This season the hard-working and competitive Skyline girls golf team found a way to edge out the perennial favorite Timpview Thunderbirds and the rest of the competition to win the state 5A championship.
“It made me think about the great female golfers we have had that laid the groundwork for this team,” Skyline golf coach Kenneth James said. “I thought of all the stuff the girls did to prepare themselves. I knew they would come up big for us. It’s easy to get tight and nervous. I tried to help them not think about doing something that has never been done before.”
Taking first overall at the individual level was junior Ashley Lam. She was able to compete while still celebrating her team’s success.
“I noticed my game had improved about four weeks ago when I had a tournament at TalonsCove and played well,” Lam said. “That’s when I knew when the high school season started I would be able to shoot low.”
Finishing also in the top 20 were teammates Tegan Halloran and Avery Kraatz.
“On day one I didn’t play that well like I expected to,” Halloran said. “I wanted my score to be lower. I like how I finished. On day two I worked on what I thought I could improve on which was mostly putting. I improved by eight strokes. I was number 17 and Avery was number 20 so we were close.”
While both are competitors against every golfer, including each other, they still manage to stay unified as a team.
“I’m always competing against everyone I’m playing with,” Kraatz said. “I wasn’t bitter. I was happy with how she placed. We try to help each other.”
Even though it had never been done before, there were early signs that this team would compete at state.
“The turning point when I thought we had a chance to win was definitely at the region championship at Murray,” Lam said. “Four of the top varsity players played their best rounds.”
While the girls were the ones who won the championship, they were quick to credit their coach for the hard work he put in.
“Our coach Kenny is great,” Kraatz said. “He’s the reason we won. He creates a positive environment and makes it so people want to play. He brings out the best in a lot of athletes.”
Until the last hole, the state title was up in the air. That made the moment sweeter when the Lady Eagles found out they won.
“The very last hole of state was my favorite memory,” Halloran said. “My family was so nervous but I didn’t know the score and birdied the last hole. I didn’t know what it meant for our team.”
While the coaching staff had high praise for all the Skyline golfers, one stood out in her individual performance.
“Ashley Lam is the best female golfer I’ve ever coached,” James said. “What she did at state is so crazy. She had one eagle, 11 birdies, 22 pars only two bogeys. She shot a 68 and 65. We don’t go anywhere without her. She tied the course record with 61. She peaked at the right time and really led us to this state championship. She’s dynamic and makes putts. Any time the putter gets hot it leads to birdies and eagles. We couldn’t have done anything without that.”
While Lam was aware of her personal accomplishments, that didn’t stop her from giving credit to her teammates where it was due.
“Our team won state for the first time because we all put in a lot of hard work,” Lam said. “We went up to the course many times to prepare and practice. I would also say that our team really gets along with each other and that helps in creating a strong team bond.”
Even though the team has made strides together now, the beginning of golf for some dates back far before high school. Some of them played even back before they started kindergarten. This early start played a key role in giving them an advantage over the competition.
“My family definitely started it,” Kraatz said. “I’m the only competitive golfer in my family. They started it, and I ran with the idea. I started when I was 4 and didn’t have a choice, but I don’t mean that as a negative thing.”
“My dad really pushed me into golf and got me playing when I was young,” Halloran said. “Nobody golfed besides my dad. My dad taught me until maybe three or four years and put me in lessons. I have been through three or four different swing coaches.”
As great as this Skyline girls golf team was, they have the potential to be even better as they are returning their entire team next year. Perhaps they, like Timpview, could build a dynasty and win a few in a row.
“We have the potential to be better,” James said. “We will have a bullseye on our back, but hopefully we are ready for it. We have nice youngsters who played a lot. The eight that played were really young. We had freshmen and sophomores that played varsity. I expect them to hustle and work hard and have a great year.” λ