Mt. Pleasant girls golf team pleased but not satisfied with solid season

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Tuesday, October 26, 2021 | 11:09 AM


The last 14 months have been a bit of a whirlwind for Ken Ivory.

In August of 2020, Ivory stepped in late to lead the Mt. Pleasant girls golf team. The challenge of taking over a team on the brink of starting a season was tough, but add in the looming threat of covid-19 and Ivory and his players all got a crash course in the game of golf at the high school level.

“I love to teach the game of golf and, without tooting my own horn, I’m good at it,” said Ivory, who is also the head professional at Pleasant Valley Golf Club. “The challenge for me was coaching. I have found out over the last two years that coaching golf is a lot different than teaching golf. There’s a totally different dynamic to coaching that I’m in the process of learning.”

A year after that wild first year, the Vikings had become far more settled. And the positive results started pouring in.

Mt. Pleasant went 9-3 overall in matches and 8-2 in section, finishing third in the WPIAL Class 2A team championships.

“I have a very young team,” said Ivory. “I don’t lose any starters for next year. But in my mind, I was looking at this year as a get-ready test because we’re so young. But I was very pleased with the ultimate outcome of this year.”

In the regular season, Mt. Pleasant lost twice in section to Greensburg Central Catholic, which went on to claim the 2A title.

“No great surprise there that we lost to them,” Ivory said.

“But we did give them their two closest matches of the year and, in speaking with their coach, their closest match in the last five years. So it’s something to hang our hat on.”

That said, he feels the Vikings had more to offer when the matches mattered most.

“We finished third in the WPIAL. If you would’ve told me that before the season, I would’ve been happy,” he said. “But looking back, in hindsight, we actually could’ve done a little bit better. The pressure, I think it got to the girls in the playoffs. We didn’t perform as well as I thought we would. But, ultimately, I’m still very pleased with how we finished up this season.”

Ivory is certainly spot-on with one thing: His team is young.

Mt. Pleasant’s top three finishers at the WPIAL team championships were sophomores. Natalie Miller, a junior, was the team’s top player throughout the season but struggled in the title match.

“Natalie is the most naturally gifted golfers on my team and, quite frankly, one of the most gifted in the WPIAL,” Ivory said. “She just doesn’t make big mistakes with the very rare exception of the playoffs. She had a few bad rounds this (regular season), but her bad rounds were in the low 40s (for nine holes).”

The trio of sophomores were Emily Eutsey, who led the Vikings with a score of 98 at the 2A championships, Allison Tepper and Gabby Kinneer.

The strong play of such young golfers already has Ivory dreaming big for next fall.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “They have constantly improved and improved. That’s what makes me think we could have done better, because they were improving at such a rapid rate.

“Maybe my expectations were a tad unrealistic. But next year, there is nothing this group can’t accomplish.”

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