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Eagles eye top three in MCAA

Playing in one of the toughest small-school conferences for girls' golf, having eight golfers back from a year ago is a coup for New Life Academy.

"We have eight of our 14 golfers returning from last year, which is by far the most we've had in the four years we've had the girls program," said Eagles head coach Greg Tietz. "I'm pretty ecstatic about that."

Finishing in last place in the Minnesota Christian Athletic Conference in 2017, Tietz is hoping an experienced group can boost New Life Academy toward the top three.

"I think that is a great goal for them to shoot for," Tietz said. "It was within reach last year and with the focus and leadership that I have seen already this year, it is very obtainable as a team."

Leading the Eagles' efforts will be sophomore Kendra Stone and junior Anna Bettmann, who last spring were the first two girls golfers in school history to advance to Day 2 of the section tournament. Stone was also named all-conference honorable mention. Two-time letterwinner Claire Wallerich will also be at the top of the Eagles' lineup as well as seniors Summer DaCosta and Calley Dolan.

"Summer and Calley will be needed to lead our team mentality," Tietz said. "They are the oldest of the girls and the rest of the girls need that leadership on and off the course. ... I want the girls to have a fun experience and I want them to be excited to come and hang out with each other and practice together as a unit."

Golf skills will be a focus, namely with the short game where Tietz explains, "as they say in golf, 'you drive for show and putt for dough.'" But the biggest emphasis is the goings-on in the players' heads.

"In golf, you are competing against yourself. Golf can be a very frustrating sport," Tietz said. "I feel the need to have them focus on their individual improvements throughout the season, from round-to-round and shot-to-shot."

The Eagles' first meet is scheduled for Monday, April 16 at Bluff Creek Golf Course in Chanhassen.