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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

Saints golf team displays resilience despite personnel changes

Facing unexpected personnel changes halfway through the season, the Holy Cross women’s golf team were able to show their resilience through a difficult season.

Last September, early into his tenth year of coaching for the Saints, head coach T.J. Mannen parted ways with Holy Cross to the surprise of both players and administration. However, with the promotion of assistant coach Aaron Martinez to interim head coach, the program was able to keep the season headed in the right direction.

“Any time a head coach leaves an organization, that is definitely hard on all of the players because every player on our roster was recruited by T.J.” said Martinez.

There were questions surrounding the program’s future, but Martinez worked with assistant coach Brian Matthews and each golfer to move forward from this difficult change. Captains junior Annika Johnson and sophomore Sierra Benge led the team this season. New freshmen golfers Kianna Sharp and Summer Bonnar joined them with a place on the roster.

Martinez had nothing but praise for his two captains, labeling them “ultra-reliable” and “model student-athletes.”

In the final tournament of the season, the CCAC Conference Championship, the team finished in sixth place. While the team was unable to win the conference or secure a bid to the NAIA Championships, Benge and Johnson showed their excellent form, finishing sixth and eighth overall, respectively.

The stability Johnson and Benge provide to the program is important. However, Holy Cross athletic director Tom Robbins outlined the need for improvement for next year’s roster earlier this season.

“We only have four [female] golfers currently. Four golfers. We need to get eight golfers next year, and I talked about how I will be helping interim Coach Martinez and assistant coach Brian Matthews with anything they need to help do that,” Robbins said.

In addition to the support provided from the athletic department, Martinez recognizes that there is lots of room for improvement. Consistency throughout the team is something Martinez specifically hopes to cultivate.

“I think too often we see low eighty [stroke totals] to low nineties, then low eighties to low nineties again. We need to find a score that we can consistently rely on as a measure against our competition.”

Head coach Aaron Martinez is expected to continue with the program next season. The same goes for the four golfers currently on the roster. Despite a tumultuous season, the golfers showed their competitiveness throughout the year, establishing a strong foundation at the program which will be vital going forward.