As Chris Rathburn enters his eighth year as the head coach of the Ruston High boys and girls golf teams, he does so with some pretty lofty expectations.
The Bearcats and Lady Bearcats will open the 2022 season one week from today in an 18-hole tournament at Trails End Golf Course in Arcadia.
It will be the beginning of what Rathburn believes could be a strong year.
The boys team returns four starters from a year ago, including senior Reeves Pullin, senior Grant Bowling, junior Grant Madden and junior John Whitaker. The remainder of the Bearcats roster includes junior Wes Altic, junior Brody Soto, and freshmen Drew Brennan, Jack Elliot, Trey Denny and S’ven Outley.
“I have high expectations for both the boys’ and girls’ squads,” said Rathburn. “With four returning starters on the boy’s squad who made it to regionals last year, I have full expectation for them to make it back to regionals as a team, and for them to contend at making it to state as a team.”
The Lady Bearcats return starters in juniors Kaitlyn Middleton, Melissa Hernandez and Landry Nelson. Rounding out the girls roster is junior Callie Stegall, sophomores Amaya Morelos and Lyla Turner and freshmen Abby Seney and Marlee Davis.
“This is the best girls’ team I have coached in my eight years of coaching the team,” said Rathburn. “The girl’s squad were only a few shots away from making it to state as a team last year, and with the two biggest contributors back this year, I expect us not only to make it to state as a team, but to compete for a state title.
“The strength of both groups is the amount of depth on the team. Both girls’ and boys’ teams have more depth, and will have much more competition for starting spots than the previous year. This should make our practices much more competitive, and it will hopefully translate to better scores on the course. We also have a lot of playing experience on both teams, which should help us when the pressure of tournament play rolls around.”
The RHS schedule includes 10 tournaments plus district, regional and state level tournaments.
Player to Watch (boys): Reeves Pullin placed 9th at the state tournament last year, only five shots out of a playoff for the state title. With his senior year on deck, he will be a favorite to possibly win district, regionals and state at the Division 1 level.
Player to Watch (girls): Two players to watch on the girls’ team are Melissa Hernandez and Kaitlyn Middleton. They should both be vying for the No. 1 and 2 spots on the team and should hopefully lead the team to state title contention. Look for both of them to take a huge step forward this season.
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