By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
The Oxford Wildcats girls’ golf team began the 25th season in program history on August 19 by participating in a 10-team event, the Lapeer Lightning Tune-Up, at Lapeer Country Club.
Totaling a score of 393, the Wildcats finished in fifth-place, seven strokes ahead of the rival Lake Orion Dragons.
Senior Janelle Grech led Oxford by shooting 92, good for an 11th-place individual finish. Showcasing the team’s young talent, a reason to be optimistic about the future of the program, two freshmen, Keira Billis and Ellie Gieselman, also scored points for head coach Gretchen Gabler, tallying a 97 and 105, respectively.
Junior Lilly Yankee was the other Wildcat to factor into the team’s total, pocketing a 99.
A strong start for a program that finished in fifth-place out of six schools in the Oakland Activities Association (OAA) White Division a year ago, Gabler was pleased with the performance in the season-opening event.
“Not since 2015 have we been off to such a strong start,” she said. “The class of 2024 is extraordinarily talented.”
Billis, who possesses as much upside as anyone in the program, spoke after her first taste of high school action.
“I had a great time playing as a team and being able to help and encourage each other,” she shared. “I also enjoyed playing against other schools around us and meeting the girls on the other teams. I am so excited for the rest of the season.”
The Lutheran Northwest Crusaders took home first-place, holding off the Grand Blanc Bobcats by one stroke, 329-330. The Cranbrook-Kingswood Cranes (357) and Almont Raiders (386) rounded out the top-five.
Grand Blanc sophomore Kate Brody, who finished third in last season’s Division I State Tournament, was the day’s top individual player, registering a 74.
Oxford did not have long to celebrate this encouraging start, however, as the team returned to action the following day, August 20, against the Rochester Adams Highlanders at Devil’s Ridge Golf Club.
Playing just nine holes in this duel, the Wildcats fell, 182-203.
Fresh off being the program’s second-leading scorer at Lapeer, Billis took her game to another level, carding a team-best 48. Classmate Lexie Yankee came in just one stroke behind and recorded two birdies.
Lilly Yankee and senior team captain Eryn Petriko each added a 53.
Freshman Laura Liu led the Highlanders with a 41, while senior Maggie Fetterman added a 46, and Kelly Boyd contributed a 47.
Opening their campaign with back-to-back days of action, Oxford had three days off before returning to the course on Monday in the Falcon Invitational at Stony Creek Metropark.
By Teddy Rydquist