In the past, Rosemount girls golf coach Barry Wallin has met with the usual questions in the spring about how he believes his team will fare in the upcoming season.
Wallin often deflected the question, knowing there were many ways in which the season could unfold. With a short season, often affected by weather early on, it was tough to get a read on expectations.
After 21 years as a varsity coach, Wallin isn't shying away from a direct answer this season.
"There was a time when I would be asked, 'How do you think you'll do this year? How is the team looking?'" Wallin said. "I would say we haven't played much and we have to wait and see. It's not that way anymore. We've got a good solid core and I know we're going to be good. How good we will be depends on the girls, how they approach every individual tournament, how they are focused on each single shot, every time. I think we can challenge for a conference title.
"You can't take anything for granted, but I think we can challenge for a conference title and the section title is the same thing with Eastview and Woodbury. You look at the nucleus and I am very pleased with where we're at. I'm just looking to see how the season will unfold."
Wallin's confidence is high before he has seen his golfers even take a swing this season. The Irish were just making the trips out to Emerald Greens golf course for practices for the first time this week. Wallin's bravado was offered before any live hitting took place.
"Now we're going outside," Wallin said earlier this week.
The Irish had spent the previous week working on conditioning, rules of the game and short game practice.
He's relying on a strong core that returns from last season.
Several of the returning players also logged a lot of course time last summer.
Seniors Emily Anderson and Betsy Wallin are the team captains. Wallin was an all-conference performer last season and Anderson was all-conference honorable mention.
Sophomore Molly Flynn made the state tournament last season and placed 66th overall. She was also the team's most valuable golfer last year.
The trio provides the core of the varsity squad.
"They're very solid," Wallin said. "They've worked hard over the summer, played in tournaments and gone out and played golf on their own. They form a tremendous foundation for the rest of the girls as role models and examples of what you need to do. They're really solid kids."
Anderson and Betsy Wallin will also continue golfing past this season. Anderson will play golf at Division III Waldorf College, while Wallin is expected to sign this month to play at Northwestern College, an NAIA school in Iowa.
"As a coach, you always like to see the kids transcend the love of the game beyond just high school," coach Wallin said.
Junior Mackenzie Gogolin was the rookie of the year award winner last season and returns with varsity experience. Ninth-grader Molly Reber and eighth-grader Monica McDonald also have a chance to fill out the varsity lineup this season after receiving some varsity time last year.
"I look forward to seeing how they all qualify," coach Wallin said.
The Irish open the season on April 16 with a tournament in Hayfield at the Oaks golf course. The first South Suburban Conference event is scheduled for Thursday, April 21 at Emerald Greens golf course.