The scores have changed. There are more in the 70s and 80s now, as opposed to a few years ago when the members of Clark’s girls golf team typically posted numbers with triple digits.
But one thing remains the same for the Chargers.
“We’re all more focused on academics,” senior Sabrina Ho said. “Golf is just a hobby. We all have fun with it. We’re not too cutthroat.”
Clark finished second at the Division I-A state tournament last year and enters this season as one of the favorites for the state title. It’s been a steady rise over the past three seasons for a program unaccustomed to success, but the Chargers are unfazed by the increased expectations that come along with their improvement.
“I’m not into fool’s gold. I want my athletes to play as best as they can, take care of themselves in-season so that when we get to that point, we have a chance,” Clark coach Aaron Dehne said. “All I’m looking for is to qualify for region, qualify for state and take it one step at a time.”
Clark produced the individual state champion for three straight years in the 1970s before the program fell on hard times. Dehne, who is in his 10th season, said the majority of the players on his first six teams didn’t pick up a golf club during the offseason.
The Chargers missed the postseason in nine out of 10 seasons before an influx of talent boosted the program in 2012. Clark finished second to Faith Lutheran in the Division I-A Southern Region tournament that season and was third at the state tournament.
Last year, Clark again finished behind the Crusaders at the region tournament, and moved up one spot at state.
“I feel like you can depend on someone now, because it’s not all about you anymore,” junior Grace Kang said. “You don’t have to carry the entire team. You have other people to count on.”
The Chargers finished 184 strokes behind champion Faith Lutheran at the state tournament in 2012 and were 58 shots back last season. Clark might not have enough depth to unseat the Crusaders this time, but it should at least narrow the gap.
“That is our goal, especially because we’re all getting better,” Sabrina Ho said. “Hopefully, we can cut into it.”
Sabrina Ho finished fourth at the state tournament as a junior, while Kang shot a final-round 79 to finish eighth at state. Cassandra Ho was ninth at state last season as a freshman, and all three are capable of posting the team’s low round. Senior Karen Chu, the team’s No. 4 golfer, continues to improve, Dehne said.
Faith Lutheran’s lone returner is defending Division I-A state champion Julia Becker, who has orally committed to Sacramento State.
Clark was the 2013 Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Fall Sport Academic Champion for girls golf, and Kang said schoolwork remains the top priority for everyone on the team. Kang said last year she brought notes to study as she walked the course, and during Tuesday’s match against Arbor View, Cassandra Ho read a textbook between shots.
“I guess in a way we’re kind of competitive,” Kang said. “When it comes to state, it will probably be more serious. As of right now, it’s just more about fun.”
Contact reporter David Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.