By Douglas Brenneman, Sports editor
When a team finishes third in the state and it is considered a rebuilding year, it tends to create lofty expectations. Of course the previous two years produced state team championships.
While the Washington High School girls golf team has met those expectations, they are not expectations from coach Len Kull.
?We don?t even bother talking about (winning state). Our motto is getting better every day,? the coach said. ?We want to just keep improving and things like that will take care of themselves. I don?t like to put a lot of pressure on the girls with certain expectations. We don?t talk about individual accomplishments. Those will happen if they just concentrate on getting better every day. I don?t think the kids need the extra pressure you put on then when you start talking about that stuff and expecting things. If you do your best and try your hardest, good things will happen.?
Good things have happened for Sarah Nacos, along with fellow seniors Megan Strabala and Allison Vogel.
?It was a disappointment (to finish third last year,? three-time state champion Nacos said. ?But at the same time, we realized how young we were. We had no seniors last year. It was OK to get third. Sometimes you need a little bit of a check. I think we realize that this year is important and we are going to be stronger. Last year may have been a little bit of a rebuilding year. Sometimes I think things like that are needed to push us to get better.?
Nacos likes to push her teammates and is happy when they push back.
?I like to create a competitive environment on the team because if you are constantly in competition, the tournaments are easier,? Nacos said. ?I hope I set a good example for the team and I know my fellow seniors do too. We always try to compete with each other in a good way. It?s not like I?m going to tear their heads off or anything.?
?Sarah does an excellent job helping out with the team and she is just an excellent kid,? Kull said. ?Now I have had some good players, now and in the past, quite a few good groups. And we have another one this year.?
?Megan will probably be our No. 2,? Kull said. ?I don?t worry about the order too much. I just put them where they play the best. I never know where that will be. Allison has a real good attitude.?
The only junior is Carly Burlingame. ?She has been up-and-down the last couple years,? Kull said. ?Every once a while she will just shoot lights out. I think she kind of surprises herself. When she?s on, she is amazing.?
The sophomore is Emily Waite. She was on the team last year and scored during the state tournament meet. ?We were real pleased about that,? Kull said.
Kull said the success of the program has started kids playing at a younger age.
Nobody could play at a younger age than when Nacos first hit the course.
?When I was a baby, my parents strapped my car seat onto the golf cart and had me ride with them,? Nacos said. ?So I guess you could say I have been out here since birth. As soon as I could pick up a club of my own, I did. That was probably around age 3. I had my own set of clubs and I would golf with my parents. They were like the Snoopy clubs. They were really cute.?
Since she has been playing for so long, it takes a lot of self-motivation to continue to improve.
?I have to be really disciplined in how I practice with my team,? Nacos said. ?I not only get out here with my team, I get out here a lot by myself. I go and see my swing coach and my dad is my other swing coach. Getting out here and doing things by myself is important because you can?t do everything with the team. This time of year everything I do revolves around golf.?
Although last year may have been considered a little bit of a rebuilding year, it will push the Demons to be better.
?I think the reason we are good as a team is because even if we were to finish second in a tournament, we are not good with that,? Nacos said. ?It?s a good way to be.?
?I think with the amount of talent we have on the team, it is going to be a good competition to see who makes the first six spots,? Kull said.
?I think us three seniors have tried to create a good atmosphere in our years here,? Nacos said. ?I think we have done a pretty good job of creating an atmosphere that is encouraging. Coach Kull does too. He is very helpful and positive and encouraging. But we have to push each other to get better at the same time.?