Lima Central Catholic’s Dan Reinicke has heard the question a thousand times in the last 10 days.
Can the Lima Central Catholic girls repeat as champions?
“Obviously that is the goal,” Reinicke said. “It is not going to be easy and I don’t think it ever is and some teams are fairly close to us. At least they were close to us as far as their district scores were … but there is going to be a couple of schools we will be in real competition with by the time we get done. We can repeat and that is the ultimate goal.”
Lima Central Catholic is looking to defend its Division II state title after capturing the crown last year.
The Thunderbirds will begin play on the Ohio State Gray Course Friday.
But at the onset of the season, Reinicke said competing at a high level was his first order of business. Despite having three of the five golfers who played at state last year, he lost two seniors, and was going to have to rely on underclassmen to fill that void.
But as the season progressed the Thunderbirds, anchored by the Mulcahy sisters, juniors Erin and Mary Kelly and returner Emma Mayers, showed they could compete with the best in the state and after a successful regular season, LCC followed it up with a sectional and district title.
At districts, LCC shot a 334 to win districts.
“When we started the year I wasn’t exactly sure because I knew 60 percent of the team was back but we had to replace two seniors,” Reinicke said. “But after we got going it was apparent that we probably had enough horses to get back to state and it was just a matter of where we were going to fall in.”
Reinicke added that the progress of freshman Bridget Mulcahy and sophomore Carli VanMeter helped them to get to state.
“I knew they were going to be fairly good coming in and actually there was some competition for that fifth spot so it wasn’t necessarily that Carli was going to come in and the one to do it because she had competition from two other sophomores but in the end she won out,” Reinicke said.
As has been the in the past, Reinicke scheduled a number of tough meets including ones against top Division I schools and he thinks this only made the team better and prepared them for the postseason.
“That is what we try to do. We try to give them good competition all year long and it serves as a good measuring stick,” Reinicke said.
Reinicke added that the girls are never intimidated by who they compete against and just go about their business and the scores take care of themselves.
Because of the odd district played last Monday, the Thunderbirds have had 11 days to prepare for state Reinicke said he gave them the day off but true to this team’s strong work ethic the girls went out and practiced on their own.
Reinicke said the team is preparing for state like they have in the past.
“We have the same preparation we had last year and that is a lot of chipping and a lot of putting,” Reinicke said. “We mix in some of that with irons and drivers. But chipping and putting is the key because they don’t always hit the greens. Jack Nicklaus made the statement `everyone makes mistakes but you want to make the fewest,’ and around the green is where you make your money.”
An advantage the Thunderbirds have is that the three girls who have been there are sharing their knowledge with the two younger players on what to expect.
“We talked about that and if we do what we have been doing we will be fine,” Reinicke said. “You don’t have to do anything special. If play our game and hit our averages, we will be in good shape.”
Kalida’s Miller ready to compete at state
Kalida Grace Miller gained a lot of valuable experience playing on the boys’ team and it has paid off with a trip to the Division II girls tournament.
Miller will play the Ohio State University Gray Course Friday.
Miller, who was the sixth golfer on the highly competitive Wildcat team, began the postseason with a sectional title after shooting a 79 at Moose Landing Sept. 24. She followed that up at districts with a fourth place showing, after winning a four-person playoff , to punch her ticket to state.
Making state was Miller’s main goals this yer.
“That has been a strong goal for me whether making state as an individual or with the team,” Miller said.
Schnipke said putting the extra time during the offseason and the hard work during the season were two reasons why Miller was successful this year.
“I try to be one, consistent, because that is important every where but also I wanted to work on my distance control and how straight I could hit so it always a challenge to play with the boys because they hit it so much farther than I do.”
Despite not getting the distance the boys get, Miller said playing with the boys team was really helpful.
“I think it was very beneficial for my golf game because coming back from the boys’ tee and playing the girls tee for a couple days every thing seemed shorter,” Miller said. “I think it helped a lot.”
Schnipke echoed her players’ sentiment.
“I think that helped her,” he said. “She has been playing in the sixth spot with the guys and hopefully that helped her. You are always playing with some one that hits it farther and I think it definitely helped.”
Schnipke said the competition will be fierce at state and he is hoping Miller can hold her own against the state’s best players.
“She needs to keep her composure and do the best you can and don’t give up,” Schnipke said. “You always preach to them you don’t know what every one else is doing. She hits the ball long enough that isn’t her problem and just like anything else in golf it comes down to putting. I think she has a good chance to finish respectable.”
Miller admits she is a little nervous going into state but like her male teammates she wants to enjoy the moment and have fun.