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The City Journals

Wolverines golfers have the drive and the desire to advance to state

Apr 28, 2021 01:37PM ● By Greg James

The Wolverines are on track to capture their second straight Region 2 golf title. (Photo courtesy of Devon Cooper)

By Greg James | [email protected] 

Girls golf is becoming a top-notch program at Hunter High School.

The team is on track to record its second straight undefeated season and region title.

“This season has been, wow,” girls head golf coach Devon Cooper said. “They are smashing records.”

On April 10, the Wolverines broke their own school record, shooting a 380 team score, 18 shots lower than the week before. They finished 48 strokes ahead of its second-place competitor, Cyprus.

Brenda Castillo leads Region 2 through five rounds of match play. Her 270 strokes are tied with Cyprus sophomore Madalin Chandra. She scored an 87 at The Ridge Golf Course. Charity Ralphs shot an 82 the same day to take home medalist honors for the day.

“These girls do not have that much experience. Brenda (Castillo) had never held a club until her sophomore year and Charity (Ralphs) started playing then, too,” Cooper said. “It is pretty exciting to go from girls that did not even know what a putter is to where we are now.”

The time and effort the girls have spent on their sport has helped them improve. Cooper attributes their hard work and an assistant coach who is willing to spend the extra time. 

Joe Stanley (Charity’s father) volunteered to help when she decided to try out for the team.

“Joe is incredible. He has played golf for a long time. He will stay after practice and play extra holes or hit an extra bucket of balls with anyone that wants to. He puts in the extra time. We call him our ‘secret sauce.’ He cares about the girls and is willing to help with the extra,” Cooper said.

Stanley was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer four years ago. 

“There is no cure, but I take medication that stabilizes it,” Stanley said. “I thought there was no better way to give back to my community than to teach these girls.”

He has 37 years of golf experience and volunteers at The Ridge in his spare time. He tried to introduce his older daughters to the game, but Ralphs was the only one who showed interest.

“She is an athlete and as far as a father-daughter activity this is fun,” he said.

Kamryn McKenzie stands in fourth place individually and Natalie Johnson is 10th, Allison King is 14th only four strokes out of being named first-team all-region. 

In 2019, Cooper had 30 golfers on the team. She paired that down to 12 this season, but she never turns down an athlete who wants to participate.

“She loves these girls. I am just here to help,” Stanley said. “She takes on anyone that wants to learn. We have had girls that could not even hit the ball. We have a good time and have gone undefeated. We practice five days a week, lift weights in the offseason and work hard. I feel like other teams have had the opportunity to do it, but are not.”

The Wolverines have never advanced to the second day of the state tournament. Cooper figures they will need to shoot under 400 to have a chance.

“I think we have a good chance,” Cooper said.

The final region match is scheduled for April 26 at The Ridge. The state golf tournament will also be held at the West Valley course from May 10-11. 

“These girls have a desire to get better,” Cooper said. “I think it is inspiring.”