The Cougars lost a pair of top four finishers at regionals to graduation in runner-up Tess Jones and fourth-place finisher Christina Kralich. Both placed in the top 10 at state, leading Spanish Springs to third place at the season-ending event.
Still, Sherbondy is excited about the prospects of this year’s team.
“I think we’re going to be young. As the season progresses, we’re going to get better and better and learn from our early-season mistakes,” Sherbondy said. “But I think we’ll be talented when it counts the most at regionals. I think we’ll be right there.
“It’s very exciting. They’re all well aware of the tradition the older players have established in the past. I think they want to live up to those expectations of winning and performing well. They’re all working hard and have great personalities and are coachable.”
Spanish Springs co-captains Devan Gaddis and Stephanie King are expected to lead the team in their fourth year. They’re the only two seniors on the team.
Trae Jones was a huge part of the team last year as a freshman and is also a key returner. Sophomore Joanna Perry was the only other player who saw some varsity action a year ago.
While the Cougars might be young this year, Reed is predominantly upperclassmen with eight seniors on the team.
Carlee Payne leads that group, a year after playing her way into one of the team’s top two golfers. Payne finished in a tie for 12th at last year’s regional tourney as the top Raider finisher.
Also expected to step up are Andi Lee, Abby Oliphant and Amanda Vranken.
“This year is going to be an up-and-down year I have a feeling,” Reed golf coach Danielle Fleiner said. “I know some of the other schools are going to come in with some pretty strong players returning and some new blood. But I’m holding out. I have a lot of confidence in them, but there are a few girls who are going to have to be stepping it up because we lost some key seniors from last year.
“The one thing I’m relying on is their maturity. Maturity wise, I think they’re going to be a little more level-headed out there on the course. They’re not going to get as rattled as the younger ones would, so I’m hoping that actually plays in our favor. That’s why I’m waiting to see how they do out there when we actually start playing. They’ve been working hard the past few weeks, so we’ll see if everything comes together.”
Fleiner said Reed’s goal is to qualify for regionals again and hopefully send Payne to state and maybe another golfer.
The Cougars open their season today at the Lady Miner 18-hole Fall Classic in Grass Valley, Calif. Of the 18 teams participating, Spanish Springs is the only team from Nevada and is also the defending champion.
Spanish Springs will be without one of its best players. Freshman Kristina Pendergraft, who Sherbondy considers one of the most accomplished entering freshmen the program has ever had, is expected to miss at least half the season. She broke her collarbone playing soccer after the second day of golf practice.
The Cougars have high expectations for another freshman, Sammy Sorensen, the younger sister of former SSHS golfer Ashleigh Sorensen.
Reed won’t play in an invite and will start the season at the first High Desert League weekly tournament on Aug. 31 at Wildcreek Golf Course.