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Preview: Woodbury girls' golf hopes to take next step

Aayushi Sarkar putts during sections at Bunker Hill Golf Club last season. (Bulletin file photo)

The expectations are high once again for the Woodbury girls' golf team.

The Royals have qualified for the Class 3A state meet in each of the past two seasons. Last year, Woodbury finished seventh in the state field with a score of 691.

The Royals are without two senior leaders from last year. Seniors Annemarie Fisher and Jessie Caron both graduated, but head coach Bryan Orlenko has five returning players with varsity experience to rely on this spring.

"Annemarie and Jess kind of carried us," Orlenko said during a team practice March 29 at Eagle Valley Golf Course in Woodbury. "They have been with us for five years."

Aayushi Sarkar is one talented freshman who will return for the Woodbury girls' golf team after playing on the past two state tournament teams.

As a seventh-grader, Sarkar tied for 21st among Class 3A golfers in 2015 with a two-day score of 165. Last year she only got to play one round of golf at Bunker Hills Golf Course for the state meet. She missed the second day of competition for a class field trip to Washington D.C., something she has since heard about from people who did not see her on the course during the second day of competition.

"A lot of my friends were there. They were all wondering what happened?" Sarkar recalled. "I was like, 'No, it was just a field trip.'"

Maddi Hanson, Bailey Misura and Michelle Yang will join Sarkar as returning golfers from last year's state tournament team. Hannah Daly is also returning with varsity experience. They make up a group of players that Orlenko will build around.

"We have our solid five, now it's finding that sixth player," Orlenko said. "We've got three or four who we're hoping can kind of rotate in there. What we're looking for this year is to build some depth, build some consistency. Get some kids that have played a lot of JV matches for us that can take that next step into the varsity level."

Most of those experienced players have been on two straight state tournament teams. They are not ready to let that streak end just yet.

"We were a pretty solid team," Hanson said about last season. "We lost our two best girls, but I think we can still make it back to state this year."

The Royals hope to finish in the top half of the Suburban East Conference again this season to go along with competing for the Class 3A, Section 3 title. If they get back to the state meet, they hope to build on last season's seventh-place finish.

"If we're fortunate to get back there, we want to do something when we are there, too," Orlenko said. "It's a great experience for them to get there. But now is the time for us to look at trying to get a trophy while we're there."