Goodrich High has never qualified for the girls golf state finals until this year — with good reason.
The school never had a team before.
That changed last fall when the school board approved adding the program, a decision that came after the 2014 season started so a handful of girls competed as a club sport.
This is the first year the school has an official varsity squad — and it made the state finals. Just qualifying would have been an incredible accomplishment, but Goodrich heads to host site Michigan State as the No. 3 team in Division 3.
Taylor Harding is the senior leader. Without a girls team to play on, she joined the Goodrich boys team in the spring of her freshman and sophomore seasons — and held her own. She also qualified for the girls finals last year as an individual and finished eighth.
“We’ve had a lot of team members step up to the plate,” Harding said about her female contemporaries. “Honestly, everyone just took it upon themselves to work hard in the off-season, and that’s all you can ask for. Look at where we are. I’m so happy.”
Harding’s sister, Sydni, is a junior on the squad. The duo tied for first place in the regional with 78s before Taylor won in a playoff. They took up the game in elementary school and regularly play on summer tours like the Adams Tour, Top50 Tour and in GAM (Golf Association of Michigan) junior tournaments.
Goodrich’s starters include seniors Aaron Monroe and Megan Reimel (who added an 83 at regionals), plus freshman Elizabeth Gibbs. With that lineup, Goodrich placed just two strokes behind regional winner Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood, the reigning three-time state runner-up and current No. 2. Defending state champ Spring Lake is ranked No. 1 in Division 3.
Cranbrook-Kingswood coach Mark Moyer quickly took notice of Goodrich.
“We could see them coming on very early in the season,” Moyer said. “After tryouts in August, the following Monday we played the regional host course (Holly Meadows, Capac) just to get an early look at it, and were surprised to see the Goodrich team playing it, too. We knew they were taking things seriously with that priority early in the season.”
Goodrich coach Jason Bescoe was one of several parents who had been pushing the school board for a new girls team for years. He said they have played in four invitationals with many larger schools and finished second or third in each, plus Goodrich won the Genesee Area Conference league title, “by a significant margin.”
“Their desire to win and get better is nothing like I have ever seen,” Bescoe said. “We look to build a program that’s going to be competitive for many years to come, hoping to have it trickle down to the elementary level and start getting them ready for competitive high school golf.”
Where: Division 1 — Grand Valley State’s The Meadows; Div. 2 — Bedford Valley, Battle Creek; Div. 3 — MSU’s Forest Akers West; Div. 4 — MSU’s Forest Akers East.